Food for thought: Planning a successful breakfast club
Today, a huge 85% of schools run a breakfast club, setting students up for a day of learning and offering a lifeline for busy parents.
Beyond the well-known benefits of a good meal to start the day, research suggests that breakfast clubs have a much deeper positive impact on children’s learning. A 2014 audit of school breakfast provisions found that 45% of schools saw attendance improve as a direct result of breakfast clubs and nearly 50% noticed an increase in student concentration.
With the rising popularity of breakfast clubs, the school day no longer starts at 8:30am. Thousands of primary schools are opening their doors as early as 7am to sleepy students and panicked parents in a rush to get to work on time. For some children, breakfast club may be their only opportunity to enjoy a good meal before a day of learning.
When it comes to putting plans in place for this all-important provision, there are lots of things for schools to consider that go far beyond choosing whether to serve toast or cereal.
Picking your team
Organising staff cover depends on the number of students attending each day. Some mornings may be busier than others, so knowing this number in advance is important. Many schools rely on the support of teaching assistants but, if resources are running low or your school has a reliable PTA or Friends Association, consider asking parent volunteers to lend a hand on a rota basis.
For schools in the early stages of setting up a breakfast club, it has also proven beneficial to involve a senior leader or headteacher in the planning process. They will be well-placed to connect the initiative with other school efforts, such as strategies to improve attendance and punctuality, enabling staff teams to pool resources and achieve a shared goal.
What’s the point?
Schools run breakfast clubs for a variety of reasons. For those operating in deprived areas, the priority is to provide healthy options and improve attendance; for other schools, breakfast clubs offer reliable and affordable childcare for busy parents.
Depending on your priorities, you may wish to open breakfast clubs to all students or encourage a particular demographic to attend – those receiving Free School Meals (FSM), for example.
Talking to parents is a great way of making decisions around the practicalities of your club, from what time to open your doors, to which items to include on the menu. Ask questions and act on feedback from those who will use the club (and possibly even keep it running) to start on the road to success.
Funding and payments
The cost of running breakfast clubs often relies heavily on the school budget, so deciding a pricing structure is important. Many primary schools charge a nominal fee for attendance, be it an hourly price, an itemised list of menu items or a wraparound care ‘package’. For FSM students, some schools charge a very small amount so food isn’t perceived as a 'hand-out'.
Collecting club fees and payments can be the source of a great many financial frustrations. Thousands of schools have seen the benefit of opting for cashless payments for fees; online payments help schools reduce dinner money debt and parent arrears, too. Choosing a platform which works for both parents and schools is key for protecting the budget. Fortunately, we have the perfect solution.
So, you know who’s involved, what’s on the menu and determined a payment structure. Now it’s time to serve up success!
Ensuring your club doesn’t become an additional admin headache is vital. We’ve heard from many schools about the issues associated with wraparound care. Saving time and streamlining processes for schools is what we’re all about, so we set out to develop a solution to ensure the smooth running of breakfast clubs.
Advance Bookings functionality, part of +Pay, enables schools to request menu choices and club bookings early; parents select menu options, make bookings and pay in one simple process. This means schools can plan resources well in advance for upcoming breakfast clubs, from staff cover and volunteers to the food on offer, reducing kitchen waste and unnecessary frustration – because who wants stress first thing in the morning?
The flexible platform also allows for clubs to be split into separate sessions. For parents who wish for their child to attend only the latter part of a breakfast club, for example, the system allows this and updates available spaces in real-time; this is particularly helpful for clubs with a limited number of spaces, leaving the remaining half of the session available for others to book.
Advance Bookings supports schools in saving time and protecting budgets whilst improving communication with parents. With our handy mobile app, club bookings and payments are easy for parents, so schools receive a great response. With payments made upfront and in advance, arrears remain low and budgets balanced, enabling schools to plan for a sustainable and financially-healthy future.