Free school meals
School meals are available to children whose parents receive financial support.
Tell us about your experiences of the free school meals service
We would like your feedback on the free school meals service.
Provide feedback for the service if your child attends a school in:
- the Dorset County Council area
- a Bournemouth and Poole school included in the free school meals contract
Will my son/daughter qualify for free school meals?
You might be able to get free school meals if you get any of the following:
- 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 four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
- Universal Credit
Children who get paid these benefits themselves, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals.
Your child might also get free school meals if you get any of these benefits and your child is both:
- younger than the compulsory age for starting school
- in full-time education
Universal infant free school meals
All children can get free school meals if they are in:
- reception class
- year 1
- year 2
Get extra funding for your child's school
If you fit the eligibility criteria for free schools meals and your child is in either reception class, Year 1 or Year 2, your child's school may be eligible for pupil premium. Pupil Premium is extra funding given to the school to:
- support more disadvantaged pupils, of all abilities
- to close the gaps between them and their peers
Parents may also be eligible for financial support to help with the cost of uniform or school trips. This will depend on the individual school's policies.
Check the schools website to see how they use Pupil Premium to benefit students.
Apply for pupil premium
Submit a free school meals application to apply for pupil premium for your school. Submitting an application will have no effect on your child's free school meal.
Apply for free school meals
To apply, complete a free school meals application.
We will make automated checks to confirm your entitlement. If you qualify, we will tell you straight away. You will then receive written confirmation within three working days.
How long will a free school meals award last?
Your child will receive a free school as long as:
- your child continues to attend a Dorset school
- you continue to receive one of the qualifying benefits
You must notify us of any changes to your benefit status which may affect your entitlement.
Additional information on free school meals
Answers to some common queries regarding the provision of free school meals.
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.