Is it Dinner Time Yet?

Listening to the news over the past few days has given me a despairing feeling that my job is going to get just that little bit harder. No, I’m not whingeing about teachers’ pay. I’m worrying about out-of-school  provision, specifically Breakfast Clubs and Teatime Clubs. Cutting back on these “non-essentials” has been raised in the media as a way of saving money.

I taught in the days before these services existed. Every Primary School teacher knows this scenario: 9 a.m. You’ve just done the Register. A little voice says, “Is it dinner time yet?” That’s the child who’s had no breakfast, the one who’s come to school on a freezing morning with nothing in their stomach and who might well have had nothing since their school dinner yesterday. Every school (and every Infant teacher) always had a secret supply of food so we could give them something…anything. It was usually a couple of biscuits and possibly a warm drink. Breakfast Clubs provide cereal, toast, juice. No human being can learn if they’re hungry. No child should have stomach pains because they’re hungry.

I remember watching a 6-year-old at the dinner hatch calculating which of the options would be filling for the longest time, anxiously checking with the Dinner Lady, “I’ll be able to get seconds won’t I?” We looked at each other in despair as she piled his plate higher than anyone else’s. He wasn’t being greedy. Children work out at a very early  age that if food isn’t guaranteed and hunger is all too familiar, you fill your boots when it is there. At least at a Teatime Club that boy would’ve been guaranteed something to eat.

These clubs come in for criticism from people who feel that feeding children should be a parental responsibility. Of course it should, but if hunger prevents children from learning then it’s an education issue too. We still see hungry, underfed children but we see fewer of them than we used to.  The people making these proposals would do well to remember that a “Big Society” has a responsibility to feed its children.

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About andromedababe

Schoolteacher,shoe lover,garden geek.Likes glitter.Any views on educational practice are my own and are not to be taken as endorsement of any specific educational theories or schemes of work.Note: this is my personal blog - not all my posts relate to education.
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8 Responses to Is it Dinner Time Yet?

  1. rosamundi says:

    Dusty in here. Got something in my eye…

  2. @poopette says:

    Lord, this makes me weep!

  3. dadwhowrites says:

    I get utterly, utterly angry about this. I’m sure you’ve read the stories about the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ impact analysis of the cuts – the Big Society seems to mean abandoning the weak and helpless and cutting or refusing to implement any systematic means to ensure they’re properly supported. Oh, and making sure the rich and powerful are utterly unaffected.

  4. Lindy says:

    It’s such a sad state of affairs when fat cats get fatter off our backs and those that are the most vulnerable are left to fend for themselves.

  5. Fiz says:

    That’s so terrible. Poor little mites.

  6. karensmate says:

    Makes you wonder how the parents who send their poor little souls to school think & why they seem to have no sense of responsibility towards the child they brought into the world. I have a great nephew whose mother is very much like this. My sister does her best to do what she can for him but ultimately his mother accuses her of interfering. Sadly he is the one with no proper uniform, shoes, PE kit, lunch etc despite my sister providing all of it & paying for his lunches until a dispute with the mother recently (she still buys all his uniform & shoes). The place he lives is such a state they can never find anything & the mother does very little laundry. I dread to think of his future as he goes forward into senior school. We wish we could be allowed to do something but sadly the mother holds all the cards

  7. True, true, true…

    And if you’re a working parent, or on shift wok or a hundred other reasons, breakfast Luna and the like make it possible to work.

  8. Blatherskite says:

    Heartbreaking 😦

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