Free school meals
All maintained schools, Free Schools and academies in Buckinghamshire, have a duty to provide Free School Meals to eligible children that attend full time.
Eligibility is judged against the benefits that the applying parent/carer is entitled to.
You are entitled to Free School Meals if you are in receipt of:
- Universal Credit - with an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400
- Income Support (IS)
- Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance (IBJSA)
- An Income–related employment and support allowance (ESA)
- Child Tax Credit (with no Working Tax Credit) with an annual income of no more than £16,190
- support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- the guaranteed element of the State Pension Credit
If you are entitled to Child Tax Credit and also Working Tax Credit, you will be eligible for Free School Meals:
- during the four week period immediately after your employment ceases
- after you start to work less than 16 hours per week
If you are eligible for Free School Meals the school will receive an extra:
- £1345 per child of government funding for if your child attends Primary school
- £955 per child of government funding for if your child attends Secondary school
Government funding is provided even if your child does not want the meal. Government funding will be used to help children from lower income families do their very best at school.
If your child gets Free School Meals, you may be able to claim other forms of help, for example, help with home to school transport.
Universal Infant Free School Meals
All children in reception, year 1 and year 2 in state schools in England are offered Universal Infant Free School Meals. This includes infant pupils in maintained schools, free schools, academies, special schools and pupil referral units.
However, if you believe you are eligible for Free School Meals based on the criteria above, it is important to apply for Free School Meals through your child’s school. If you are eligible, this will allow:
- the school to claim the Pupil Premium funding from the Department of Education
- you to potentially claim extra support such as help with home to school transport – children receiving only Universal Infant Free School Meals are not entitled to any additional support
- your child to receive free school meals once they reach year 3
Apply for Free School Meals
You will need to apply directly to your child’s school if you consider your family are eligible to receive Free School Meals.
When you apply for Free School Meals, your child’s school:
- will normally ask you to complete a form to check your eligibility
- may request copies of your benefits paperwork to help them assess your eligibility – however you do not usually need to provide any financial information
If you have children at different schools, you will need to contact each school individually to apply for Free School Meals for each child.
Changes to your Benefits
It is important to notify your child’s school if:
- you have a change in your benefits - especially if the change makes you eligible for Free School Meals
- your partner is now claiming the family's benefit for free school meals as your school will need to check their eligibility separately