Apply for free school meals
All academies, free schools and maintained schools in Buckinghamshire have a duty to provide free school meals to eligible children that attend school full time.
Check if your child is eligible
Your child is entitled to free school meals if you receive:
- Universal Credit - with an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400
- Income Support (IS)
- Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance (IBJSA)
- an income–related employment and support allowance (ESA)
- Child Tax Credit (with no Working Tax Credit) with an annual income of no more than £16,190
- support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- the guaranteed element of the State Pension Credit
If you receive Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit
If you are entitled to Child Tax Credit and also Working Tax Credit, you'll be eligible for free school meals:
- during the 4-week period immediately after your employment ceases
- after you start to work fewer than 16 hours per week
The pupil premium for schools
If you're eligible for free school meals, the school will receive an extra:
- £1,345 per child of government funding for if your child attends Primary school
- £955 per child of government funding for if your child attends Secondary school
Government funding is provided even if your child does not want the meal and is used to help children from lower income families do their very best at school.
If your child gets free school meals, you may be able to claim other forms of help, for example, help with home to school transport.
Free school meals for infants (universal infant free school meals scheme)
All children in reception, year 1 and year 2 in state schools in England are offered universal infant free school meals. This includes infant pupils in maintained schools, free schools, academies, special schools and pupil referral units.
However, if you believe you are eligible for free school meals based on the criteria above, it is important to apply for free school meals through your child’s school. If you are eligible, this will allow:
- the school to claim the Pupil Premium funding from the Department of Education
- you to potentially claim extra support such as help with home to school transport – children receiving only universal infant free school meals are not entitled to any additional support
- your child to receive free school meals once they reach year 3
How to apply
You'll need to apply directly to your child’s school if you consider your family are eligible to receive free school meals.
When you apply, your child’s school:
- will normally ask you to complete a form to check your eligibility
- may request copies of your benefits paperwork to help them assess your eligibility – however you do not usually need to provide any financial information
If you have children at different schools, you'll need to contact each school individually to apply for free school meals for each child.
Notify the school if there are changes to your benefits
It is important to notify your child’s school if:
- you have a change in your benefits - especially if the change makes you eligible for free school meals
- your partner is now claiming the family's benefit for free school meals as your school will need to check their eligibility separately