Feed your children warning after large numbers of hungry school pupils revealed

Pupils from Hillside Primary School enjoying the breakfast club.

Pupils from Hillside Primary School enjoying the breakfast club. Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: Rachel Edge

Parents have been warned to make sure their children are well fed after figures revealed nearly a fifth of Suffolk pupils struggle to concentrate at school due to hunger.

Graham White from Suffolk NEU

Graham White from Suffolk NEU - Credit: Archant

Research by Kellogg's found that about one in five teachers had reported pupils finding it hard to keep going in lessons, with one in nine youngsters going to school without a bite to eat.

The cereal brand, which questioned 450 people in Suffolk as part of the survey, found one in six children do not eat breakfast.

Teachers and education campaigners in Suffolk said that they were not shocked by the figures in financially difficult times.

However they said there were several ways mums and dads could ensure their children are not going to school on an empty stomach.

Graham White, from the Suffolk branch of the National Education Union, said: "I'm surprised the number of children going to school hungry is so high, but really I can't say I'm shocked.

"It says a lot about the time we are living in, unfortunately. This isn't a case of parents just dropping their children off before work.

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"More needs to be done at a national level to help low-income families. This isn't simply a Suffolk issue."

Lee Abbott, headteacher of Hillside Primary in Ipswich, which runs a successful free breakfast club for all pupils, said: "Unfortunately, I'm not shocked by these figures at all.

"If children are hungry, it is very difficult for them to concentrate. It would be great if every child could start the day fed and well-nourished, and it doesn't matter if that is provided by their school or their family."

Mr Abbott did add however that it was too simple to generalise the issue coming down to low-incomes, adding families' work lives can mean children miss out on morning mealtime, extending the need for more breakfast clubs.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council added: "Breakfast has long been recognised as the most important meal of the day and evidence shows that a healthy breakfast is linked to better health, concentration and behaviour in children.

"In Suffolk the majority of our schools choose to offer a breakfast club provision. As well as offering a healthy breakfast, clubs offer supervised play and social time in the morning preparing pupils for the day ahead and improving punctuality and attendance."

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