A parliamentary report that highlighted the problem of children going to school hungry has proposed free breakfasts to tackle the problem.
The all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on hunger, headed by Labour MP Frank Field, surveyed 19 schools in Birkenhead and 13 in South Shields.
According to its report, some children at one school in South Shields “complain of persistent hunger”, while a school in Birkenhead said 20 per cent of its pupils were turning up to class hungry.
Last year, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) released research claiming that schools were providing £43.5 million of extra support to deprived pupils, including food.
Russell Hobby, the association’s general secretary, said: “Pupils going to school hungry will not fulfil their potential.
“As services are cut elsewhere, such as in health, welfare and local government, schools have to pick up the pieces.”
The APPG report claimed a 16 per cent increase since 2012 in children starting school underweight, based on the National Child Measurement Programme’s figure of 6,367 children in England starting reception underweight last year.
However when Schools Week checked the programme’s latest available online report, it said the overall prevalence (percentage) of underweight children had increased only slightly since 2012, from 0.9 per cent to 1 per cent.