Free school meals and pupil premium

Who can get free school meals
Who can register for pupil premium
How to claim:

What happens next
Students over 16
Proof of benefit / if the check shows that you are not entitled

Who can get free school meals

All pupils in reception, year one or year two in primary schools are entitled to free school meals. 

Children in other years could get free school meals if you get:

  • Income Support (IS)
  • Income Related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA-IR)
  • Income Based Jobseeker's Allowance (IB-JSA)
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit and are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and your annual income, as assessed by the Inland Revenue, does not exceed £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit 'run on'- the payment you receive for a further four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit

Some young people over 16 can also get free school meals if they claim a benefit in their own right.

Free school meals can save you hundreds of pounds a year. If you receive benefits, your child could also get free milk, contact your school to find out what arrangements they make for school milk.

If you get free meals and your child has to go on work experience, you will be able to claim a refund for any lunches you have provided. Ask for details from the school.

Who can register for pupil premium

If you receive one of the above benefits that entitle your child to free school meals, you can also register your eligibility with the council so that the school can benefit from additional funding, called pupil premium

The pupil premium gives schools extra funding to raise the achievement of some pupils. This is measured by the number of children eligible for free school meals based on the above qualifying benefits. It is worth over £1000 per pupil for the school your child attends.

How to claim

In reception, year one or year two

If your child is in or starting reception, year one or year two you do not need to apply for free school meals.  Just contact your child's primary school to check what they need to do to get their free meals. However, if you get any of the above benefits please register your child so the school can benefit from pupil premium.

Your child's free school meals will stop at the end of year two, unless you receive the above qualifying benefits and you have already registered your child with us.

To register for free school meals and pupil premium:

Online

Please complete our online form to register with us.

By phone

If you have not claimed for free school meals for your child before ring your local area education office.

It must be the person claiming the benefit that rings.

You will need to provide your name, date of birth and national insurance number.  They will confirm whether you are entitled immediately over the telephone. 

By post

Download the application form and return it to your local area education office.

Application form (reception) (PDF, 93KB)

Application form (all other years) (PDF, 67KB)

What happens next

If you are eligible, we will let the school know that your child can have free school meals. 

Each school has its own arrangements for letting the dinner service staff know who will be getting free school meals. Contact your school if you have any questions.

Once your application has been granted for free school meals or pupil premium you never need to complete another application. We will check on a regular basis that your children are still entitled to the meals. We will let you know if you are no longer eligible. You should still contact the area office if you are no longer getting any benefits.

Please contact us if any of your personal details change, in particular if you have changed address or if your children have changed schools.

Students over 16

Some young people may be entitled to free school meals, whatever their parents income, if they receive a benefit in their own right.

Qualifying benefits include:

  • Income Support
  • Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance

How to claim

If you attend a school sixth form or special school please contact your local area education office for more details.

If you attend a sixth form college or college of further education please contact the college direct to claim your free meals.

Proof of benefit / if the check shows that you are not entitled

We use the government's benefits database to check your entitlement for your children's free school meals.  If the check shows that you are not entitled, this does not mean that your children are not automatically entitled to free school meals.

If you can provide proof of your entitlement then we can check your claim again if you show us or send us a copy of one of the following documents:

Income Support

All pages of the letter from DWP/Jobcentre Plus dated within 1 month of application showing breakdown of income support payment.

Income Based Jobseekers Allowance / Income Related Employment and Support Allowance

All pages of the letter which shows the breakdown of jobseekers allowance / Employment Support Allowance dated within 1 month of application.

Child Tax Credit

Your complete TC602 Inland Revenue tax credit award notice, for the current tax year.

Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit

Your Pension Credit M1000 award notice.

Asylum Seekers

NASS support notice or IS96 document including details of authority providing support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum act 1999. You will need to give us your:

  • NASS reference number
  • port reference number
  • name of authority

Contact your local area education office for more details.