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Applying for Free School Meals

Free School Meals and Universal Infants Free School Meals

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Who Qualifies for Free School Meals?

Free School Meals can only be awarded if you or your partner are claiming either;

  • Income Support
  • Job Seekers Allowance – Income Based
  • Employment and Support Allowance - Income Related
  • Support under part V1 of the immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Child Tax Credit, provided you are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income that does not exceed £16,190
  • Guarantee element of State Pension Credit.

Note: From 1st May 2009, children are eligible for Free School Meals for a four week period immediately after the parent/carer becomes unemployed, or reduces their hours to less than 16 hours a week, but is still in receipt of Working Tax Credit.

What is Pupil Premium?

Pupil Premium is extra money paid direct to schools for each child who is eligible for free school meals. It is used to support your child's education. Please apply for free schools meals if you are eligible so your school gets this money.

Who Qualifies for Universal Infant Free School Meals?

From September 2014 the government are introducing universal infant free school meals for all pupils in Reception, Years 1 and 2. In order for your child's school to recognise who is eligible for universal meals and who qualifies for free school meals for funding purposes we would encourage all parents to register with their school by completing an application form even if the child does not wish to receive a meal.

How do I apply for Free School Meals and / or Universal Free School Meals?

If your child is in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2, an application form can be obtained from your child's school.

If your child is in Year 3 or above, you can complete an online Free School Meals Application Form.

What happens after I have completed my application?

  • Your eligibility for Free School Meals and / or Universal Free School Meals will be checked by your child's school
  • If we receive your free school meals application form, eligibility will be checked online
  • If you qualify for a Free School Meal under the benefit criteria, a letter will be sent to you confirming your Free School Meal Award
  • Your child or children's school will also be informed.
  • Contact your child's school to find out how your child's lunch will be served
  • Free School Meals cannot be granted to any child until either the school or ourselves have received a correctly completed form
  • Entitlement to free school meals cannot be backdated
  • Schools will know if your child qualifies for a Universal Infants Free School Meal.

What happens if my circumstances change?

If an applicant ceases to receive one of the above mentioned benefits, they must inform this office immediately, as entitlement to free school meals must be cancelled. Giving false information or failing to disclose a change in circumstances may lead to legal proceedings.

What do I do to maintain my claim for Free School Meals?

Your claim for Free School Meals will be reviewed on a regular basis. We use an online Free School Meals eligibility checking system provided by the Department for Education to confirm your entitlement.

Please note the online checking system only confirms or denies your eligibility to claim Free School Meals: it does not give us any other information. If we cannot confirm your entitlement through this process we will contact you to ask you to provide up-to-date evidence of the benefit you receive.

Will I need to re-apply if my child changes school?

Your child remains entitled to free school meals as long as you are eligible. Free meal entitlement will automatically follow your child to the next stage of their education (i.e., in September) and the new school will be advised of this.

BUT – The Free School Meals Team will need to be advised if your child transfers to another school at any other time or for any other reason.