Free school meals
Eligibility of pupils for free school meals in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2
From September 2014 all pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 in state-funded schools in England were eligible for free school meals (FSMs). This includes academies, free schools and pupil referral units as well as maintained schools.
Eligibility criteria for other year groups for free school meals
Children in key stages 2-4 in state-funded schools are entitled to receive FSM if their parents or carers are in receipt of any of the following benefits:
- Income Support (IS)
- Income Based Jobseekers Allowance (IBJSA)
- Income-related employment and support allowance
- support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- Child Tax Credit (provided you're not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
- the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit.
Children who receive Income Support (IS) or Income Based Jobseekers Allowance (IBJSA) in their own right are also entitled to receive free school meals. Children who have not attained compulsory school age will need to satisfy the additional requirement of receiving education both before and after the lunch period to qualify for free school meals.
Applying for a free school meal
Applications for free school meals are processed by each individual school; further information and the application form can be obtained directly from your child's school. You will be asked to provide proof of your eligibility and the school cannot provide free school meals without first seeing the appropriate documentation.
Most secondary schools operate a cafeteria service where individual items can be bought separately, although a set-price meal is also available. A number of schools now operate a cashless smartcard payment system for buying school meals. There are also facilities available in all schools for pupils who prefer to bring their own food.