Magic Breakfast

The Magic Breakfast project provided schools with support and resources to offer a free, universal, before-school breakfast club, including to all Year 2 and Year 6 pupils. The aim of the project was to improve attainment outcomes by increasing the number of children who ate a healthy breakfast. 


Cross curriculum



Key Stage 1

Key stage

EEF Summary

The EEF tested the impact of Magic Breakfast clubs on pupil attainment in relatively disadvantaged primary schools. There has been considerable interest in school meals over recent years, including the introduction of universal infant free school meals and breakfast club pilots in England, and new policy on breakfast provision in Wales. We funded this project because despite the policy interest, there was limited evidence of the impact of breakfast clubs on attainment.

Our evaluation found that supporting schools to run a free of charge, universal breakfast club before school delivered an average of 2 months’ additional progress for pupils. Interestingly, it appears that it was not whether more pupils ate breakfast at all that made the difference, but whether more were going to the school breakfast club. It may be that school breakfasts are more nutritious, or that attending the club effectively prepares pupils for learning. Breakfast club schools also saw an improvement in pupil behaviour. This suggests that breakfast clubs provide an opportunity to improve outcomes for all children, not just those who attend breakfast club, through better classroom environments.

Schools should consider breakfast clubs as a cost effective way to raise pupil attainment. Schools wishing to achieve a similar impact of 2 months’ additional progress should aim to deliver a breakfast club similar to the model tested here: free, universal and before school.

Research Results

KS1 Maths

Months' Progress
Evidence Strength

KS1 Reading

Months' Progress
Evidence Strength

KS1 Writing

Months' Progress
Evidence Strength

KS2 Reading

Months' Progress
Evidence Strength

KS2 Maths

Months' Progress
Evidence Strength

Were the schools in the trial similar to my school?

106 schools took part in the trial. 71 of which were rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.

56% of pupils have ever been eligible for free school meals. 23% of pupils had special educational needs.

Could I implement this in my school?

Magic Breakfast is a charity that supports schools in providing healthy breakfasts to children. More information on Magic Breakfast can be found here



Delivered by


Whole School

Participant group


1 Year

Intervention length

How much will it cost?

The cost per pupil per year over three years is £11.86, averaged across all pupils in the breakfast club schools. The total cost was, on average, £4,462.11 per school. In addition, schools used 820 person-hours per year to deliver the intervention. On average, this included 87 teacher hours, 449 teaching assistant hours, 164 support staff hours, and 100 volunteer hours over the year.



Cost per pupil


0.0 Days

Training time per staff member

Evaluation info





Key Stage

Key Stage 1

Start date

January 2014

End date

January 2017

Type of trial

Effectiveness Trial

Evaluation Conclusions

  1. Year 2 children in breakfast club schools experienced around two months’ additional progress compared to Year 2 children in the other schools in the trial. These positive results would be unlikely to occur by chance.

  2. For Year 6 children in breakfast club schools, results for the main outcomes, reading and maths, were positive but could have occurred by chance. However, on other measures of writing and English they experienced around two months’ progress compared to the other Year 6 children. These positive results would be unlikely to occur by chance.

  3. The findings suggest that it is not just eating breakfast that delivers improvements, but attending a breakfast club. This could be due to the content of the breakfast itself, or to other social or educational benefits of the club.

  4. Pupil behaviour, as measured by a teacher survey, improved in breakfast club schools. This is interesting because it shows that breakfast clubs may improve outcomes for children who do not even attend breakfast club, by improving classroom environments.

  5. Activities thought to increase take-up of the breakfast provision included promoting it to parents and encouraging all children to attend while sensitively targeting pupils most likely to benefit. The project required additional staff time which some schools found difficult to provide without charging for breakfast.

  1. Updated: 4th September, 2019

    Printable project summary

    1 MB pdf - EEF-magic-breakfast.pdf

Full project description