A pilot scheme providing breakfast and after school clubs at three Inverness schools is proving a success in and out of the classroom.
So far, 93 pupils aged from five to 12 have attended sessions at Dalneigh, Merkinch or Bishop Eden’s primary schools.
Improved school attendance
The project started last year and feedback shows that schools are experiencing improved attendance, with fewer pupils turning up late.
Teachers also report that many pupils are more alert in class due to the new structure to the start of their day.
Another key benefit is that the built-in child care gives parents and guardians more flexibility for work commitments or in finding work.
The breakfast clubs run from 8am-9am when youngsters are served a healthy breakfast and enjoy activities such as football and board games.
The after-school clubs from 3pm-5pm involve a combination of physical activity, quiet zones and a healthy snack.
During the three-day February school break, the trust is holding a holiday camp for pupils from the three schools at Merkinch Primary.
Craig Masterton, the trust’s community development manager, said: “We are seeing real benefits of our engagement and learning lessons as we go along.
“These are lessons we can pass on to any other community trusts that wish to follow our lead.
“The attendance at the sessions suggest the children are enjoying their time with us and we are delighted that they are eating healthy foods.
“One pupil stood up at school assembly to let everyone know he had that morning at the breakfast club eaten the ‘breakfast of champions’ – a fresh fruit and yogurt combination.”
Making a difference in the community
The Extra Time project has seen the community development team employ two new members of staff, including an education development officer to oversee and evaluate the programmes.
Craig added: “We hope to use the experiences of this pilot scheme as part of a wider scheme to make a real difference in our community.
“We believe the benefits will be felt across the whole household and intend to capture this data more comprehensively in the coming months.”
Rhona MacCormick, head teacher at Dalneigh Primary, said the breakfast and after-school clubs are very popular with pupils.
“The breakfast club is a great start to the day and pupils comment on how ready they are to learn when school starts.
“Teachers have also commented on the difference they see in children’s readiness to start to learn.
“We feel so lucky to have this opportunity.”
School clubs having a positive impact on children’s learning.
Jillian Kean, head teacher at Merkinch Primary, added: “Our children and families benefit from a very popular free breakfast club and a growing after school club.
“A healthy and encouraging start to the day has a positive impact on our children’s learning.
“Not only do our children enjoy a healthy breakfast and a super end to the day, they also learn from the positive role models who lead these activities.”
Last year the trust provided 60 hours of free football coaching and 1,460 free meals during its summer programmes.
The community team welcomed a record number of 1,317 participants at 17 venues.
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