Why apply for Free School Meals?
As a school, we are very keen that all students who are eligible for Free School Meals actually apply and receive their entitlement.
Benefit for Families: is that this ensures that students can have a healthy lunch during the school day. Students are provided with a cashless card to pay for their lunch. The process is straight forward and students who receive Free School Meals are anonymous. The cashless payment card means that students pay for the Free School Meals in exactly the same way as other students pay, so they are not identified in any way. If your child is registered for Free School Meals, your family is also entitled to receive financial help with Abbeyfield School uniform and trips.
Benefit for the School: Increasingly, large sums of our school funding are being linked to the number of students on roll who have registered as eligible for Free School Meals. This means that if families do not apply for Free School Meals, the school receives less money than it should have to spend on the education of our students. The school will be significantly better off if you make a successful application, even if your child doesn’t want to claim the daily lunch.
Who is eligible for Free School Meals?
- To get Free School Meals you must be in receipt of one of the following qualifying benefits:
- Income Support
- Income Related Employment and Support Allowance (NOT Contribution Based ESA)
- Income Based Job Seekers Allowance (NOT Contribution Based JSA)
- Child Tax Credit (but NOT getting Working Tax Credit) and combined annual, income as assessed by HMRC, is not above £16,190 (as at 6 April 2011)
- Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit
- National Asylum Seekers Support (NASS) under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
From 1 May 2009 where a parent is entitled to Working Tax Credit during the 4 week period immediately after their employment ceases, or after they start to work less than 16 hours per week, their children are entitled to free school lunches.
Applying for Free School Meals
You can apply using a paper application form which can be downloaded from the Wiltshire County Council Website Education Grants. Paper forms are also available from the school (Mrs Green in Student Support).
Send the completed form to Wiltshire Council direct (the address is on the form). Please note – you do not have to send any documents to show your entitlement to one of the above benefits. Automated checks will be made to confirm your entitlement, and if you qualify, you will be written to within three working days of receiving your form. If the automated benefit check does not work, then you may be asked to supply documentary evidence.
How long will a Free School Meals award last?
The award will remain in place for as long as your child continues to attend a Wiltshire school and you continue to receive one of the qualifying benefits (if your child attends, or transfers to a school in another area, you will have to re -apply to the local authority which is responsible for that school). You are required to notify any changes to your benefit status which may affect your continued entitlement.
My children all go to different schools – should I fill a separate application form for Free School Meals for each child?
The award is made for the family – you can include all your children on one form, so long as they all attend schools in Wiltshire. Wiltshire parents whose children attend schools in another local authority area should contact that authority for Free School Meals.
My child has just started school and already has brothers and sisters who get Free School Meals – do I need to reapply?
Yes – you need to re -apply so that the new child can be included in the family’s current Free School Meals award. Don’t worry if your child is in reception, and is currently only attending part -time. The award can be set in place now, but will only become ‘active’ once the child attends full time.
I qualify for Free School Meals, but the school will know about my financial situation if I apply. Can I apply without the school knowing how much I receive in benefits?
The arrangements for checking benefit evidence do not disclose how much you receive, or even which benefit you receive.
I am a foster carer. Is the child in my care entitled to Free School Meals?
No – children, such as foster children, in the care of the local authority or of a voluntary organisation cannot be considered for Free School Meals.
Who to contact?
For students residing in Wiltshire:
Tel: 01225 713780
Fax: 01225 713684