Parents want safeguarding of breakfast clubs in schools

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A proposal to axe school breakfast clubs as a way of saving cash has been deemed unpalatable by parents.

As part of Falkirk Council’s public consultation prior to next month’s budget, the suggestion was put forward to end the service which operates in 34 of the local authority’s schools and serves 662 pupils.

However, the move has met with a storm of protest.

An online petition has already gained over 870 signatories, a further 200 people signed a petition in Hallglen and of those responding to the council’s consultation only one person was in favour of getting rid of clubs compared to 86 who wanted them saved.

Youngsters pay £1.45 daily for breakfast or 75p if their parents are in receipt of housing or council tax benefit. Pupils receiving free school meals can also get breakfast for free.

Adrian Wren, whose six-year-old daughter attends Hallglen Primary, is one of those behind the campaign to safeguard the service.

He said: “It’s vital for many parents. My wife and I used to both work in Stirling and without the breakfast club, we would have needed to take two cars to work and one of us would have had to start work later.

“Nowadays, people who are in work need all the help they can get.

“We’re told it costs the council £150,000 annually to provide the service but I’m not sure if they have looked at other ways of maintaining it. They could increase the cost slightly or they could do what they do in some areas and encourage volunteers – parents and grandparents, to help run it every day.”

The online petition was launched by Pamela McCabe and comments posted include: “Sometimes this is the only proper meal a child will get and all children should have a good and equal start to their school day. Children who are hungry can not focus and learn which puts them on an unequal footing from the very start.”

Another person said: “Families are under so much pressure already trying to find a work life balance and taking breakfast clubs away will mean parents have to work longer hours to pay for the extra childcare needed.”

While one commented: “What is more important than the next generation. Life is difficult enough for young people but let’s get their day off to a good start.”

Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, council leader, said a decision would be announced at the budget meeting which is planned for February 28.

She said: “Talks are ongoing concerning our budget. What I can say is that the SNP government has supported breakfast clubs and much of the additional funding given has gone directly to these.

“We are all committed, making it a priority to give our children the best possible start in life.”