SCHOOLS across the county should set up breakfast clubs to help less-advantaged families, according to councillors.

But they will have to find their own ways of funding them as the county council said it did not have the cash.

A report delivered at yesterday’s Oxfordshire County Council education scrutiny committee found having breakfast improved attendance, attention, behaviour and learning.

A letter promoting breakfast clubs and encouraging their introduction will now be sent to all headteachers and governing boards in the county.

Councillor Gill Sanders, who put forward the idea, said: “We can’t require the introduction of breakfast clubs but we can commend them to schools and academies.

“It not only gives youngsters a good start to the day, they will be able to concentrate more and it’s also good socially.”

There are 187 breakfast clubs in Oxfordshire but less than seven per cent of five- to 11-year-olds have access to them, the county council’s children’s services said.

For the 53,971 primary school children in the age range, there are only 3,581 places at breakfast clubs.

The report said it was up to schools and academies to either use their own resources or seek charitable or private business grants. Cllr Sanders said the council could help with this.

She said: “We have to look for sponsors to come forward.

People are struggling to support their families at the moment with zero hours work and cuts in benefits.”

Rose Hill Primary School offers a daily breakfast club for up to 35 children with toast, cereal, fruit, juice, milk and water on offer. A charge of 50p per child funds the food while three members of staff run the service.

Headteacher Sue Vermes said: “It offers working parents the chance to drop their child off at school a bit early, knowing that they will be at a safe place.

“It gives the child a nutritional breakfast before they start school and that gives them a much better start for their learning.”

Cabinet member for education Melinda Tilley admitted the council had no money to contribute.

But she said: “We can certainly help schools that want to set up breakfast clubs and we will support them in any way we can. We haven’t got any money but we can facilitate the start-up and we could approach sponsors.”

She said schools could use their pupil premium money to set up a breakfast club.

Oxford-based nutritionist Helen Money said breakfast provides the brain with energy and helps combat low blood sugar levels.

She said a healthy breakfast – which should include wholegrain toast, cereal without added sugar, fruit, milk, yoghurt or eggs – can also improve a child’s concentration levels and behaviour.

The 45-year-old from Cumnor added: “It’s surprising how many children go to school without breakfast. So by having breakfast clubs, it gives the provision for children to have breakfast if parents don’t have time in the morning or they don’t see it as a priority.”