Monday, 1 February 2010
In the last week or so the re-branded, caring and sharing Tories seem to have reverted to type. As the Tory party spin machine in Westminster recovers from sleepless nights over these comments, the Welsh Conservatives have now shown their mean streak by setting their sights on the popular free school breakfast scheme. Welcomed by parents and teachers alike, this initiative ensures children get the best possible start to the day by providing a decent meal. A nutritious breakfast has been shown to enhance concentration levels and improve social skills for those pupils taking part.
The Tories are now saying this money would be better spent elsewhere and that it should be the role of parents to provide breakfast. In an ideal world there is a possibility this argument could have merit but, as David Cameron likes to keep reminding us, we don’t live in an ideal world. The reality is that some children, for whatever reason, are not given breakfast at home before being sent to school and would therefore have to make it through to lunch time without having eaten any food. This not only impacts on the child’s health but also has long-term consequences for his or her education.
Of course the Tories have form for abolishing such schemes so it is not entirely unexpected that they are finally showing their true colours. However, have the Tories really looked at the benefits of this free breakfast initiative in close enough detail? Being able to leave the house that little bit earlier and drop your child at school for breakfast can, in many cases, be the crucial difference between a parent deciding whether it is worth going to work or not. Putting aside the advantages it holds for children, there are clear economic benefits to the free breakfast scheme. In their haste to slash public expenditure, the Tories seem to have overlooked this. Or is it Nick Bourne simply wants be known now as Nick Breakfast?