Information released to BtP under Freedom of Information by the Department of Education show schools in Derry and West Belfast are spending thousands of pounds under the Extended Schools Programme to provide breakfast clubs for their students.
The Department of Education’s (DE) extended schools programme provides additional financial support to eligible schools to help improve the life chances of children and young people particularly from deprived areas.
BtP asked the Department to outline ‘the number of schools i.e. Nursery, primary and post primary that offer free breakfast clubs for pupils either funded from their own budgets or from the Department specifically (please specify funding stream) broken down by Assembly constituency since 2011′.
The Department informed us that:
‘the Department does not hold information on the provision of free school breakfasts across the entire schools estate.
However the additional resources made available via the Department’s Extended Schools (ES) programme can be used for a range of activities including breakfast clubs. The focus of the ES programme is on improving educational outcomes, reducing barriers to learning and providing additional support to help improve the life chances of disadvantaged children and young people.’
£2.65m has been spent as part of this programme across the region since 2012-13 to cater for Breakfast clubs. Each year from 2012-2015 with the exception of 2014-15, 2014 schools right across the region have benefitted from the Extended Schools programme.
In each of the years from 2012 until the end of 2015 inclusive, at least one Derry school and one West Belfast school have been included in the 5 highest-spending on breakfast provision for their students in NI.
In the Foyle constituency, the top school for spending on breakfast clubs alternated between either St Patrick’s Primary or St Joseph’s Boys School in Creggan.
In West Belfast, it is St Mary’s CBS or Christ the Redeemer Primary School respectively. Of all the data BtP received from the Department of Education, St Patrick’s Primary School in Foyle has by far the largest budget, at almost £17,000 in 2014-15.
Earlview P.S is situated in South Antrim, whilst Christ the Redeemer and St. Mary’s CBS are situated in West Belfast. St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s Boys are in Foyle.
Again, the same schools are in the top five with the exception of Fleming Fulton in this year, which is situated in South Belfast.
The 2014-15 figures mirror those of 2012-13, in a different order, with South Antrim, West Belfast and Foyle schools topping the spend.
The 2015-16 figures suggest St Paul’s in South Armagh and St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s just outside Derry join the other schools that are static throughout the figures.
For the first time, we are going to release the full FOI response we received from the Department, showing all of the school figures. (.xlsx format)