Pupils are eligible for free school meals if their parents receive one or more of a range of benefits. The current list of benefits can be found on Apply for free school meals on the Gov.uk website.
Schools may also claim the deprivation pupil premium for pupils who are eligible for free school meals or who have been eligible at some time in the previous six years.
All infant pupils are entitled to free school meals but it is still important that schools know which infant pupils meet the benefit criteria for free school meals, because the school still receives pupil premium and formula funding based on the number of pupils meeting the benefits criteria. So if a school fails to identify pupils eligible for deprivation funding there could be a significant impact on its budget. It is important that parents are made aware of this.
The simplest way for schools to check eligibility for free school meals is to use the electronic eligibility checking service which is offered to Surrey schools by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. This is free at the point of use for all maintained primary and secondary schools because funding is automatically de-delegated from their budgets. Nursery, special schools and academies will be charged for this service.
Schools not wishing to use this service must ensure that they see evidence of eligibility for the benefits which the parent is claiming. Sample letters are available by contacting email@example.com which schools may wish to use for parents.