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Missing Out

Teachers see a worrying rise in Irish children coming to school hungry

Missing breakfast is causing kids to lose six weeks of learning each year.

HUNGER IS BECOMING a serious issue in Irish classrooms, according to a new survey.

The study found that one in five teachers have seen an increase in children arriving for school in the morning without having eaten breakfast.

The “Lost Education” study, conducted by Opinion Matters, also found that nearly four in 10 (39%) of Irish teachers had themselves brought food into school for a pupil they know to be regularly hungry.

The poll was commissioned by Kellogg’s, who have announced a new collaboration with the children’s charity Barnardos, to provide free breakfasts for schoolchildren from disadvantaged communities in Ireland.

The survey of 500 primary and secondary teachers in Ireland found:

  • 19% of teachers have seen a rise in children coming to school hungry
  • 39% have brought food to school for a specific pupil
  • 30% have seen children fall asleep at their desk out of hunger 
  • 76% believe pupils who miss breakfast perform less well in exams

The study also asked teachers how much learning time pupils lose through hunger – with the result that in total, children who miss breakfast are effectively losing six weeks of learning every academic year.

In a statement, Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay said:

By ensuring children have a nutritious breakfast each morning, we are helping them to concentrate throughout the day, enabling them to learn and achieve their potential in life.

Read: Back to school costs fall in 2014 but are still ‘crippling too many families’>

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