Too much to swallow

11th July 2003 at 01:00
An excess of red tape gives Paul Shepheard indigestion My south London primary has been running a breakfast club for the past year or so. It was initially funded through the education action zone, but EAZs are being replaced by EiCs (Excellence in Cities), and NOF (New Opportunities Fund) money is being channelled via the HAZ (health education action zone) through the YMCA. Even running a breakfast club gives a porridge of abbreviations and initials.

Our club is run by two devoted primary helpers. At about 7.45am they set up the hall and organise the breakfasts. An hour or so later, they clear away, wash up, count the money, prepare it for banking and order for the next day. Then they visit the cash and carry supermarket - they are paid for an hour's work a day, so do this in their own time.

About 30 pupils have breakfast at school. Later arrivals don't come to eat but to buy a cereal bar or a piece of fruit for morning play, or to save for after school. The subsidy for the club comes from taxpayers' money, so there has to be a proper level of accountability. So now I have a pile of monitoring and accountability forms to complete.

To start, there is form BC1. It is a register to record the regular or ad hoc attenders for every day the club operates.

This form is my guide to completing BC4 - the whole-school monitoring pro forma that allows me to match the names on form BC1 to the following additional information: year groupsex baseline assessment, plus date last assessment plus dateethnic groupEAL stage SEN stageon low income (answer yes or no)gifted or talented (yes or no)poor environment or service access refugee or asylum seeker (yes or no). A secondary school would have to provide information about expected GCSE grades A to C for each pupil who eats.

In between is BC3 (there is no BC2 - believe me, I'm not worried). This is my learning outcome form (one for each term) with sections headed "learning outcomes achieved" or "other outcomes" (changes in attitude or motivation, for example).

Form BC5 is my breakfast club action plan. Here the paragraphs needing completion are: activity providertarget groupminimummaximum numbers venuetime of sessioncosts.

BC6 is the breakfast club learning objectives form, requiring me to tick statements such as: Why was the club set up? Was it:

* To provide a nutritious meal at the beginning of the day? (I'd never have thought of that without a form to fill in.)

* To prevent snacking?

Form BC7 is about income and expenditure, to be completed each quarter.

Having a breakfast club means 25 to 30 children start their school day with an appropriate meal, they have monitored and controlled social interaction with peers and adults, and are somewhere safe, warm and familiar rather than on the street. But as I look at these forms, I wonder if we could reduce our prices, or pay our helpers for the actual hours they work with the money needed to implement and maintain the monitoring process.

Paul Shepheard is head of St John's Angell Town CE primary school, London borough of Lambeth

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