William Eichler 25 May 2017

Tory school breakfast pledge to cost three times estimated £60m

The Conservative Party’s promise to provide free breakfasts to all primary school pupils will cost three times as much as the £60m they originally suggested.

In their manifesto for the 2017 General Election, the Tories said they would drop universal infant free school lunches and instead introduce free breakfast for pupils.

In a statement published the night before the manifesto release, the party argued dropping free lunches would save £650m and the new ‘breakfast clubs’ would cost £60m.

However, research by Education Datalab suggests the real cost of providing breakfast to the 3.7 million children enrolled in state primary schools will be closer to £174m per year.

The £60m figure — which the Conservatives are distancing themselves from — is thought to have come from an Education Endowment Foundation’s evaluation of a scheme called Magic Breakfast, which provides free breakfasts in schools serving deprived areas.

According to this evaluation, writes Education Datalab’s Philip Nye, the total annual figure of non-staffing costs will come to £43.4m (£11.86 per pupil per year). Add to this an estimated £20m in staffing costs and you get £63m.

However, the evaluation is based on an average across all pupils enrolled in the schools that took part in the study rather than on actual pupil take up, which was only 23.6%.

Mr Nye argues that while take up of the breakfast offer on a national scale will not be 100%, for many it may be seen as a a substitute for morning childcare. ‘This would suggest,’ he said, ‘that take-up might actually be highest in areas where parents already currently pay for morning childcare.’

The Magic Breakfast staffing costs also ‘seem low’, Mr Nye said. If they were scaled up to a national level, they would translate to each school spending just £6.26 per day on staffing.

Mr Nye estimates a more accurate figure might be £174m. This is based on the assumptions that the cost per pupil of food is 25p; a staff-pupil ratio of 15:1 is used; the breakfasts are delivered by teaching assistants or support staff, who have to be employed for an extra hour each day; and take-up is 20%.

A Conservative spokesman said: 'We will ensure that all primary schools can offer a free school breakfast to every child in every year of primary school as we set out in our manifesto – independent evidence shows this is a cost-effective way to improve education and health results for pupils.

'More broadly, we will increase the schools budget so that by 2021/22 we will be spending £4bn more on schools than now. This represents a real terms increase for every year of the Parliament, underpinned by a strong economy.'

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Highways Operative - Barrow x4

Cumbria County Council
£22,571 – £23,484
We are looking to recruit a new Highways Operative to our Highways Service. Cumbria
Recuriter: Cumbria County Council

Refugee Resettlement Interpreter - Ukrainian and Russian

Cumbria County Council
£28,226 - £29,174
‘Homes for Ukraine’ is the Government’s initiative to supporting those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. Cumbria / Countywide
Recuriter: Cumbria County Council

Safer Spaces Community Safety Enforcement Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£31,122 - £32,112
Our Community Safety Enforcement Officers are responsible for improving community safety outcomes throughout the Royal Borough’s main Town Centres. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Enforcement Support Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£31,122 - £32,112
The Royal Borough of Greenwich are looking for dedicated, enthusiastic, and compassionate individuals. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Communications and Engagement Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£38,385 to £41,586
We’re looking for an enthusiastic and dedicated communications professional to join our team. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.