School Meals

Free School Meals


Universal Infant Free School Meals

You will be aware that the Government have introduced Universal Free School Meals for all Key Stage 1 pupils from September 2014.

From September 2014 all pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 in state-funded schools in England will be eligible for Free School Meals (FSMs). This will include Academies, Free Schools, Pupil Referral Units and Alternative Provision as well as Maintained Schools.

Existing entitlements to Free School Meals for disadvantaged pupils in Nursery Classes and at Key Stages 2-4 will continue as now, based on the existing Free School Meals eligibility criteria. For further information please visit the following links:

Frequently Asked Questions

  • FAQs - (these FAQs are in our 'Just for Schools' section but provide some useful information)

Qualifying Benefits

Parents/guardians who receive any of the following benefits are entitled to Free School Meals:-

  • Income-based & Contribution-based JSA or ESA on an equal basis
  • Income Support (IS)
  • Income Based Jobseekers Allowance (IBJSA)
  • Income-related employment and support allowance (IRESA)
  • Child Tax Credit, provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income as assessed by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, that does not exceed £16,190
  • Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit
  • Where a parent is entitled to Working Tax Credit run-on (the payment someone receives for a further four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

Please note the following benefits do not qualify for Free School Meals: Contribution based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Contribution based Employment and Support Allowance, Working Tax Credit, Invalidity Benefit, Disability Living Allowance, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Child Benefit.


Applying for Free School Meals

Free School Meals are administered by Devon County Council (DCC) for all Devon maintained schools and you should apply to Devon if your child(ren) are attending a Devon school, apart from Colyton Grammar School and Bickleigh-on-Exe C of E Primary School where you will need to apply directly to the school.

Devon County Council are also responsible for Free School Meals for Plymstock School, Coombe Dean School and Oreston Community Academy and if your child(ren) attend these schools you need to apply to DCC.

The claimant in receipt of the qualifying benefit will need to apply:

  • Phone 0345 155 1019 with your National Insurance Number, date of birth, name and child’s details and an eligibility check can be carried out using the Department for Education’s Eligibility Checking System, this will confirm if your details have been matched or not. It will not tell us what benefits you are in receipt of, dates when a benefit was awarded or say how much you receive
  • Apply online by downloading an application form image - PDF icon (391KB - pdf help) and emailing it to the Free School Meals Team at
  • Once we have received your application, we will enter your details onto the Department for Education’s Eligibility Checking System and it will tell us if you are entitled or not
  • We will then inform your child’s school and send you a letter with our decision, usually within 5-10 working days
  • If it states AUTHORISED: we will inform the school and your child will be able to receive Free School Meals
  • If it states NOT AUTHORISED: we will inform the school and if you still believe you are entitled, please call 0345 155 1019 for advice. We may need you to send us evidence that you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit
  • You no longer have to reapply as we are able to carry out an audit check from time to time on your eligibility status, however as soon as your circumstances change, for example you start to receive Working Tax Credits or you stop receiving any of the qualifying benefits above, you must notify DCC by phoning 0345 155 1019 and then we will inform your child(rens) school. We do not get automatically informed if your circumstances change and you no longer qualify for Free School Meals.

When you apply, you won’t need to provide us with any evidence of your benefit, we can check your eligibility status for you.