The government will fund its breakfast clubs programme in full for another four months, with plans for schools to contribute delayed in a partial U-turn.
The Department for Education has also announced it will widen the eligibility criteria so more schools can access the scheme.
Last year, ministers announced they would spend £24 million extending the national school breakfast club programme for another two years, taking the scheme up to July 2023.
However, the department also said last summer that schools would only receive a 100 per cent subsidy for the clubs until the end of this March, after which the subsidy “will then be reduced to 75%, allowing schools to contribute 25% from other funding streams”.
But the DfE has now updated its guidance “in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the challenges that schools have faced”.
Participating schools will receive a 100 per cent subsidy for breakfast club provision until the end of July this year, with subsidy reduced to 75 per cent from August.
It means the scheme will be fully-funded by government for the remainder of this school year.
The government also said last year that schools would be eligible for the scheme if they had 50 per cent or more pupils in the A-F bands of the income deprivation affecting children index (IDACI).
The DfE announced today that the threshold had been reduced to 40 per cent. The government’s 12 social mobility opportunity areas will also be prioritised, the department said.
All eligible schools will be contacted this month.
The partial U-turn follows criticism of the breakfast clubs programme, which was launched in 2018 with £26 million in funding before being extended into 2020 with a further £11.8 million.
Schools Week revealed in early 2020 that despite claiming to have “created or improved” around 1,800 breakfast clubs in schools across England, only 286 were actually new.
The programme hit a further snag last year when Magic Breakfast, one of two previous providers of the scheme, did not bid for the extension funding, saying it “did not believe the terms of the contract would allow us to meet our charitable mission – to ensure no child is too hungry to learn”.
Family Action, which had run the programme with Magic Breakfast since 2018, was awarded the contract for the 2021 to 2023 extension alone. The charity is responsible for sourcing and delivering breakfast food products to schools.