22 April 2024

Families encouraged to check if they are eligible for free school meals

Wiltshire Council is encouraging families to access healthy lunchtime free school meals in reception and years one and two, and to check if they remain eligible in year three and above.

The initiative helps to save families more than £350 per year.

All infant school children, those in reception, year one and year two, have been entitled to free school meals since September 2014.

All families need to do is tell their school that they want their child or children to continue to have free school meals. If families are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, their school will also receive a pupil premium of £1,385 per pupil.

This funding is provided to all schools by the government to enable schools to help children from lower income families achieve their very best.

For children in years three and above, free school meals are not provided automatically. They can be awarded if the family receive any of the following benefits:

  • Income support
  • Job seeker’s allowance (income-based)
  • Employment and support allowance (income-related)
  • support under part six of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child tax credit – providing they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and your family’s annual income (as assessed by HMRC) is not more than £16,190 (as of 6 April 2012)
  • Working tax credit ‘run-on’ – the payment you may receive for a further four weeks after you stop qualifying for working tax credit
  • Universal credit (provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods)

If a family receives these benefits, their school will also continue to receive the pupil premium of £1,385 per pupil. If a family that receives these benefits would still like their school to benefit from the extra funding provided but does not want their child to have free school meals, they must still register for free school meals. For every child registered the school receives £985 for secondary-aged pupils or £1,385 for primary-aged pupils.

Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “Free school meals ensure that all children can benefit from a healthy meal at lunchtime, and also provides schools with additional funding to support children from lower income families to achieve their full potential.

“Free school meals are available for all children from reception until year two, and I would encourage all families to check if they are eligible to continue receiving free school meals from year three as this can represent a saving of more than £350 per year. If children are eligible to continue to receive free school meals, their school will also continue to receive the premium of either £985 or £1,385 extra per eligible pupil, which really helps schools to ensure all children have the very best start in life.”

Wiltshire Council manages free school meal applications for all primary schools. However, a small number of secondary schools manage their own applications and will advise parents on their process. These schools are:

  • Bishop Wordsorth’s Grammar School
  • Bradon Forest School
  • Salisbury 6th Form College
  • South Wilts Grammar School for Girls
  • St John’s School Marlborough

Registering for free school meals is confidential, no one will know a family has registered and it will not affect any other benefits they are claiming.

Families can apply online at https://parentportal.wiltshire.gov.uk/web/portal/pages/home, or by printing and returning the form on our website at https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/article/1669/free-school-meals

Written by
Andy Munns
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Written by Andy Munns