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Free school meals

Free school meals

Girl eating

Applications for free school meals are processed by schools. 

Contact your school apply for free school meals for your child.

Infant pupils

From September 2014, all children in reception, year 1 and year 2 in state-funded schools in England will be eligible for free school meals. This includes infant pupils in maintained infant and primary schools, free schools, academies, special schools and pupil referral units. Please speak to your school for more information.

Your school may still ask you to complete a Free School Meals application form, this is because although your child is guaranteed free meals the school could still claim an extra £1300 Pupil Premium from central government if you are currently in receipt of one of the relevant benefits listed further down this page. This money can be used in your child’s school to raise the attainment of pupils from lower income families and close the gap between them and their peers.

Year 3 or older

Under current regulations only children whose parents/guardians are in receipt of any of the following are entitled to free school meals:

  • Income Support
  • Income-Based Job Seekers Allowance.
    Contribution-Based Job Seeker's Allowance does not qualify for free school meals
  • Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related). 
    Contribution-Based E&SA does not qualify for free school meals.
  • Child Tax Credit and have an annual income, as assessed by HMRC, not in excess of £16,190.
    Families who are also entitled to Working Tax Credit do not qualify to claim free school meals regardless of income.
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
  • Guarantee element of State Pension Credit.

Temporary qualification for free school meals

You become eligible to claim free school meals if you receive a Working Tax Credit run-on: this is the payment received for a further four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.

To qualify for free school meals after the four week period expires you need to be in receipt of one of the other qualifying benefits listed above.

Pupil premium

If your application for free school meals is successful the school will receive an extra £1300 (Primary schools) or £935 (Secondary schools) of government funding even if your child does not want the meal. This additional funding will be used to help children from lower income families do their very best at school.

If your family is registered for free school meals you may be eligible to claim other forms of assistance, for instance with home to school transport.

Changes to your benefit entitlement

Routine eligibility checks are carried out on all current claims throughout the year. Please contact your school immediately if your benefit changes or ends. It is equally important that you tell your school if your partner is now claiming the family's qualifying benefit for free school meals as your school will need an application form from them.

If you have any queries about free school meals, contact your child’s school.


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