YEP Says: Why Mr Atkinson deserves praise for food mission

AS a headteacher, Nathan Atkinson's remit is pretty run of the mill: care for the educational needs of his pupils to the best of his ability.

Thursday, 22nd December 2016, 9:01 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 1:57 pm
SCHOOL DINNERS: Scarlett Teahan, 9, Bobby Farquharson, 10, grandma Maria Casey and great auntie Bernadette Ramsden enjoy their lunch at Richmond Hill Primary School.

No-one would expect him to make sure his pupils and their families are fed over Christmas. But Mr Atkinson is no run-of-the-mill headteacher. He has been providing breakfasts and Christmas meals at Richmond Hill Primary School despite term finishing last week.

After identifying a clear link between nutrition and attainment, hence why breakfast is now the first lesson of the day at the school, he is fearful that the academic progress of pupils will suffer because they will not be eating regular and healthy meals between now and the start of the new term.

The initiative will continue in the holidays – with a full-time member of staff providing breakfasts and some Christmas meals for families, while the headteacher will restock the market stall every day in the run up to Christmas Day.

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Mr Atkinson has worked with TV chef Jamie Oliver who shares his belief that combating holiday hunger is vital.

With 70 per cent of Richmond Hill youngsters eligible to free school meals, it’s indicative of levels of poverty and the extent to which teachers do go the extra mile for their students. Such compassionate and pragmatic example should be applauded.