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Additional information on free school meals

Answers to some common queries regarding the provision of free school meals.

Questions:

My children all go to different schools - should I fill a separate application form for free school meals for each child?

The award is made for the family - you can include all your children on one form, so long as they all attend schools in Dorset. Dorset parents whose children attend schools in another local authority area should contact that authority for free school meals.

My child has just started school and already has brothers and sisters who get free school meals - do I need to reapply?

Yes - you need to re-apply so that the new child can be included in the family's current free school meals award. Don't worry if your child is in reception, and is currently only attending part-time. The award can be set in place now, but will only become 'active' once the child attends full time.

My children qualify for free school meals, but the school will know about my financial situation if I apply. Can I apply without the school knowing how much I receive in benefits?

The arrangements for checking benefit evidence do not disclose how much you receive, or even which benefit you receive.

I am a foster carer. Is the child in my care entitled to free school meals?

No - children, such as foster children, in the care of the local authority or of a voluntary organisation cannot be considered for free school meals.

My child will get a free school meal because they are in infant classes, why do I still need to apply?

Although all children in infant classes (reception, year 1 or year 2) will receive a free lunch meal, it is still important that you apply if you might be eligible.  This is because, if your child is eligible, the school will receive additional funding called Pupil Premium. The school will receive £1,300 (2014-15) per pupil which is used to support the education of all pupils from low-income families as needed, to ensure that they get the same chances as other children. 

It is up to the school how this money is spent, but Ofsted check with them that they have used it to help raise attainment of pupils from low-income families where performance tables show that their attainment tend not to be as good as their more affluent peers. This can add up a lot of additional funding to a school and can be used to really help children to achieve well as they grow older. Additionally, some schools use this to help with uniform costs or the cost of trips or other educational activities instead of asking for contributions from parents where they know it can be hard to find additional money. But that is up to each individual school to decide and you will need to talk to your school to find out what their policies are for helping out.

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