Applying for free school meals and pupil premium

What is pupil premium?

The pupil premium is additional funding for publicly funded schools in England.

It’s designed to help disadvantaged pupils of all abilities perform better, and close the gap between them and their peers.

Pupil premium funding is available to:

  • schools maintained by the local authority, including:
    • schools for children with special educational needs or disabilities
    • pupil referral units (PRUs), for children who can’t go to a mainstream school
  • academies and free schools, including:
    • academies for children with special educational needs or disabilities
    • alternative provision (AP) academies, for children who can’t go to a mainstream school
  • voluntary-sector AP, with local authority agreement
  • non-maintained special schools (NMSS), for children with special educational needs as approved by the Secretary of State for Education under section 342 of the Education Act 1992

Funding for financial year 2018 to 2019

In the 2018 to 2019 financial year, schools will receive the following funding for each pupil registered as eligible for free school meals (FSM) at any point in the last 6 years:

  • £1,320 for pupils in reception to year 6
  • £935 for pupils in year 7 to year 11

Schools will receive £2,300 for any pupil:

  • identified in the January 2018 school census or the alternative provision census as having left local authority care as a result of:
    • adoption
    • a special guardianship order
    • a child arrangements order (previously known as a residence order)
  • who has been in local authority care for 1 day or more
  • recorded as both eligible for FSM in the last 6 years and as being looked after (or as having left local authority care)

For pupils who attract the £2,300 rate, the virtual school head of the local authority that looks after the pupil will manage the funding.

Your child 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 (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit - if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

Children who get paid these benefits directly, 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:

If your child is eligible for free school meals, they’ll remain eligible until they finish the phase of schooling (primary or secondary) they’re in on 31 March 2022.

Infant free school meals in England

Your child will be able to get free school meals if they’re in:

  • reception class
  • year 1
  • year 2

Tell your local authority if you also get any of the qualifying benefits. Your child’s school can get extra funding if you do.