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
- have a full-time place at a nursery attached to a Brent school.
The qualifying benefits are:
- Income Support (IS)
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (IBJSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- Child Tax Credit, provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income, as assessed by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), that does not exceed £16,190
- The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
- Working Tax Credit run-on-paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
- Universal Credit
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 attends a 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.
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.
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 2014/15 Brent primary schools will receive £1,300 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 money.
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.