Free School Dinners
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.
If you continue to attend a school after you reach the age of 16 and go into the school’s sixth form, or Luton sixth form you will still be able to have school meals (provided you are still eligible).
If you leave school and go to a college or, in some cases, an independent training provider, then there are other funds which you may be able to access. The Government has a scheme called the 16-19 Bursary Fund that is intended to support young people to stay in education. There are certain groups of young people who will be entitled to the full £1,200 bursary per year. These are:
- Young people in care
- care leavers
- young people in receipt of income support
- disabled young people in receipt of Employment Support Allowance who are also in receipt of Disability Living Allowance
Colleges use their discretion to make awards to other young people in ways that best fit the needs and circumstances of their students. Bursary awards will be targeted towards young people facing financial barriers to stay on in education. You need to discuss this with the college you are going to attend as they hold the Bursary and they will be able to advise you if you are eligible for help. It is likely that if you received free school meals at school you will be able to get money from this fund. You can use this money for meals, but you may receive sufficient to cover costs of transport, books and equipment.
What is Pupil Premium?
The government will continue to provide schools with additional funding to support or enhance the learning of pupils who are currently or have been entitled to free school meals within the last 6 years. It is essential that parents/carers apply even if the pupil does not wish to receive a free school meal.
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 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, and meet the qualifying criteria as detailed above , and not already receiving FSM you can complete an online form
What happens then?
- Your eligibility for Universal Free School Meals will be checked by your child's school
- If we receive your free school meals application form, your 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
- 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.
NB 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.