Free school meals
From September 2014 all children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, will be able to receive a free school meal whether their parents are in receipt of benefits or not. If your child is in one of these year groups we still need you to apply for a free meal if you are receiving benefits.
Schools get extra funding for every child registered as eligible for a free school meal if their parents receive benefits. They use this money for activities including art therapy, booster classes, educational trips and after school clubs.
Download or pick up an application form from your child's school.
Even if you do not want your child to receive a free meal, don't let your school miss out on this important extra funding that will benefit your child.
Parents of children in other year groups and in secondary schools must still apply for a free meal and your eligibility will be checked.
Does my child qualify?
If you receive benefits your child will be eligible for free school meals if they:
- Attend a Brent primary school
- Attend a Brent secondary school
- Go to sixth form in Brent
- Nursery aged children who attend full days in a nursery attached to a Brent school. It is a requirement that the child attends both before and after the lunch time period i.e. the child must be attending two sessions AND also meet the benefits criteria. The same benefits criteria apply to nursery school children as apply to children in school.
The qualifying benefits are:
- 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)
- 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 guarantee 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 four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
The following benefits do not qualify for claiming free school meals:
- Contribution-based Job Seeker's Allowance
- Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
- If you (or a partner) are also awarded Working Tax Credit regardless of your family's income
- Incapacity benefit and DLA.
Local authorities do not set the qualifying criteria for free school meals and we are unable to waive them. Any change to the criteria is a matter for central, not local government.
Young people who receive income support or income-based jobseekers allowance in their own right are also entitled to free school meals.
You must tell us immediately if you stop receiving your benefit.
Apply for free school meals
If you meet the criteria you can apply by:
- Downloading the free school meals application form and posting it to the address on the form
- Asking your child's school for an application form which you can return to them or us
- Contacting the school admissions team on 020 8937 3110 for a paper copy of the application form which they will post to you.
The application form is only for a child or young person who attend a full time school or nursery in the London borough of Brent.
We will ask for proof of child benefit to be provided if this is your first application for free school meals. Eligibility for free school meals will not be backdated, so ensure you apply as soon as possible.
Please note that providing us with an email address or mobile number (or both) will help to ensure we can regularly inform and update you on the progress of your application.
Renewing a claim for free school meals
Your free school meals provider will contact you to confirm entitlement has started. Your child will continue to receive free school meals for as long as your eligibility can be confirmed.
Please be aware that we are unable to backdate claims for free school meals to cover unpaid dinner money, or to refund dinner money paid prior to the date of a successful application.
Working Tax Credit exception
If you receive Working Tax Credit your children may be entitled to free school meals:
- For no longer than four weeks from the date you became unemployed (or reduced your working hours to less than 16 per week) and started receiving Working Tax Credit.
In this case you will need to provide evidence of your benefit. You need to make sure this information shows the date you became unemployed, or the date you reduced your hours, because free school meals are only available to parents on Working Tax Credit run-on-paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.
If you have been unemployed and receiving Working Tax Credit for longer than four weeks, then your children are not entitled to free school meals.
If your Working Tax Credit stops and you begin receiving a different benefit that is one of the qualifying criteria listed above, you will continue to be eligible after the four-week period.
If you increase your hours or begin working and continue to receive Working Tax Credit your free school meal entitlement will stop.
Changes to your benefit entitlement
Please contact us immediately if your benefit changes or ends, as it may mean that you no longer qualify to claim free school meals. If it is found that you did not notify us that you were no longer entitled to claim free school meals, you will be invoiced for the cost of all school meals taken free to which your child(ren) were not entitled.
Pupil premium funding
Schools get extra funding called the pupil premium for every child registered as eligible for a free school meal if their parents receive benefits.
If your child goes to a Brent primary or secondary school and you get benefits, it is very important that you fill in an application form for a free school meal.
In 2017/18 Brent primary schools will receive £1,320 for every child they have registered as eligible for a free school meal and secondary schools will receive £935 per pupil.
Your child's school uses this extra money to fund things like additional tuition, learning support assistants, art therapy, booster classes, educational trips and after school clubs.
If you think you meet the criteria it is very important that you apply to us because schools continues to benefit from this funding for six years once children are registered.
Even if you do not want your child to receive a free meal, we would urge all parents who think they might be eligible to fill in an application form so that your child's school and your child can benefit from this extra funding.
If your child is starting in Reception it is very important that you fill in an application form because we will not have any of your details registered. If your child is starting secondary school (Year 7) we will also need you to fill in a new application form, even if your child received free school meals in primary school.
Children in all other year groups who are currently receiving free school meals do not need to re-apply as you will already be registered with us.
If you have previously not been eligible for free school meals but think that you now might be, you also need to fill in an application form.
Examples of how Brent primary schools use pupil premium funding include
- Running booster classes in literacy and maths
- Providing additional teaching support
- Subsidising extra-curricular activities
- Increasing provision for those pupils who are gifted and talented
- Providing art therapy.
Examples of how Brent secondary schools use pupil premium funding include:
- 1-to-1 and small group teaching
- Subsidising music lessons and extra curricular activities
- Access to counselling services
- Additional pastoral care to support attendance and punctuality
- More careers guidance provision.