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.

To register for free school meals and pupil premium:


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.

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.