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Administration and finance

Free school meals

Free school meals are administered by Devon County Council for all Devon maintained schools. We are also responsible through a traded agreement for free school meals with Devon academies.

These pages are designed to keep schools up-to-date with the latest news and information on free school meals.

Apply for free school meals

Parents should apply through the Citizen Portal which is the quickest and easiest way to apply and will result in you getting an instant decision.

Communications to schools

To stay up-to-date on the latest free school meals communications please ensure you are registered to the free school meals topics on our Schools Communications website.

Universal infant free school meals

You will be aware that the government introduced universal infant free school meals for all key stage 1 pupils from September 2014. All pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 in state-funded schools in England are eligible for Universal Infant Free school meals. This will include academies, free schools, pupil referral units and alternative provisions as well as maintained schools.

Qualifying benefits

Parents or carers in receipt of the following support payments will be entitled to receive free school meals:

  • 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 (IS).
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (IBJSA).
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (IRESA).
  • The guaranteed element of Pension Credit.
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income that does not exceed £16,190).
  • Working Tax Credit run-on (the payment someone receives for a further four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit).

School children living on their own (16-19-year-olds) who receive a qualifying benefit in their own right can also get free school meals.

Please note that from 1 April 2018, all existing free school meal claimants will continue to receive free school meals whilst Universal Credit is rolled out. This will apply even if their earnings rise above the new threshold during that time.

In addition, any child gaining eligibility for free school meals after 1 April 2018 will be protected against losing free school meals during the Universal Credit rollout period.

Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out, any existing claimants that no longer meet the eligibility criteria at that point (because they are earning above the threshold or are no longer a recipient of Universal Credit) will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their current phase of education – primary or secondary.

The Universal Credit rollout is currently expected to be completed in March 2023.

Pupil premium

Pupil premium is additional funding from the government for schools. Students eligible – based on the existing free school meals criteria – can attract this funding.

Parents and guardians with children in reception, year 1 and year 2 at a Devon school may be asked to complete a free school meal application form to check entitlement.

For further information regarding pupil premium please visit Pupil premium for schools.

We appreciate how important it is that pupils within KS1 are still recorded as eligible for free school meals, ensuring pupil premium funding is granted.

For further information regarding KS1 pupil premium for parents please refer to our New starter pupil premium page.


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