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Free school meals

Free school meals are available to children whose parents receive financial support.

Free school meals

Your child qualifies for free school meals as long as you receive any of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit. This is as long as you are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and your annual gross income isn't more than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit 'run-on' payment (paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Universal Credit, as long as your household income is less than £7,400 a year after tax and not including any benefits you get

The school doesn't see any information about your income.

Children who get paid these benefits directly, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals.

 

All children who currently receive free school meals will remain eligible until at least 31 March 2022. This also applies to any new children who are approved.

This means between now and 31 March 2022, you do not need to contact us to cancel free school meals, even if you feel your child is no longer eligible.

From 31 March 2022, any child receiving free school meals will remain eligible until they have finished that school phase, for example, a child in reception on 31 March 2022 would remain eligible until they finish primary school in 2028.

This protection has been put in place while the government rolls out Universal Credits nationally.

Universal infant free school meals

All children can get free school meals if they are in:

  • reception class
  • year 1
  • year 2

If you receive one of the qualifying benefits, you should complete a free school meal application too. This has no effect on your entitlement, but it could provide extra funding for the school. This funding is called Pupil Premium and it helps:

  • support more disadvantaged pupils of all abilities
  • to close the gap between these pupils and their peers

Depending on the school's policy, they can use the Pupil Premium to help with things like the cost of school uniform or school trips. Please check your school's website to find out more. 

Apply for free school meals

This should only take a few minutes to complete.

You'll need your National Insurance number or National Asylum Seekers Service number which allow us to make automated checks to confirm your entitlement.

The school doesn't see any information about your income.

If you qualify for free school meals, we'll let you know straight away and send you a confirmation email shortly after.

To apply, complete a free school meals application:

Apply now

The application is for the family so you should only need to do it once, regardless of how many children it's for. If one of your children has just started school and their siblings already get free school meals, you will need to reapply so that we can add them to the award.

 Chat with Dorset Councils online

  • School Pupil Premium

    The pupil premium is additional funding for publicly funded schools in England to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils of all abilities and to close the gaps between them and their peers.

 Chat with Dorset Councils online

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