PUPILS at a North-East primary school are to get nutritious free breakfasts thanks to a Government initiative launched in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Skerne Park Academy, in Darlington, has been told it has been successful with an application for help through the National School Breakfast Programme.

The Government-funded programme is being delivered by the charities Family Action and Magic Breakfast.

Initially, it will mean all 362 Skerne Park pupils receiving free breakfasts for four weeks of the summer holidays – and the scheme will carry on until March when they return in September.

Head teacher Kate Chisholm, below, and her deputy, Sarah Hardy, will be opening the school twice during August for parents to collect the meals. Each time, every child will receive packs of bagels, plus a box of cereal, that will last for two weeks.

Mrs Chisholm said: “There is a definite need for support in the local community, and we are very excited to be able to provide a helping hand for our families during these strange and difficult times.”

The school will take its first food delivery on August 3 and begin distributing the breakfasts after that, with the school opening for collections at the start and middle of the month.

From September, every child in the school will continue to get free breakfasts through the “Bagel Programme” which is also part of the national scheme.

Mrs Chisholm added: “Once the pupils are back after the holidays, we will be heating and buttering the bagels as a school community and delivering them to classrooms – under social distancing rules.

“It’s been a really challenging time for the pupils, staff and parents and we know there is further hardship ahead, so it was really important that we secured this additional support.”

Cereals and porridge will also be provided to enhance the breakfast provision, and as an alternative for children who are allergic to bagels.

The funding lasts until March 21 and arrangements will also be made for the breakfasts to be sent to the homes of any children who are shielding.