ALMOST a third of Scottish teachers have reported an increase in child hunger when compared to last year, according to a new study.

The online survey, commissioned by Heinz and children’s charity Magic Breakfast, found that 27% of primary and secondary school teachers in Scotland are reporting that the number of children coming to school without having had any breakfast has increased, when they compare this to the start of the autumn term in 2019.

In schools with above-average levels of disadvantaged children, this figure rises to 40%.

What’s more, almost two thirds (63%) say they expect more children will be coming to school without any breakfast once the Government furlough scheme ends in October.

According to the poll of 169 Scottish teachers, almost all (93%) agreed that children not eating breakfast leads to a reduction in child productivity levels throughout the morning at school, while 92% said children who do not eat breakfast in the mornings are more tired at school. This can then lead to them falling behind academically.

Magic Breakfast works with supporters like Heinz to provide meals for more than 1800 children in Scotland. CEO Alex Cunningham said: “Unfortunately the results of this research show how much more there is left to do to tackle child hunger as a barrier to learning, especially given the greater hardship facing many families in light of the pandemic. We are very thankful for Heinz and their continued support.”

Marcus Rashford, footballer and campaigner to end child food poverty, said: “Breakfast club played an integral part in my life. Not only did it guarantee that I had fuel to sustain the day and really engage in learning but it is where I formed my life friendships. Breakfast clubs offer a community, an acceptance and I’m thrilled to hear the efforts Heinz are going to to support these vital services.

“People claim education is the best means of combating poverty but that formula is only successful if children are able to engage with learning. No child can engage and sustain concentration on an empty stomach.”