Primary school children eating lunch in school canteen

Pupil Premium and Free School Meals

If you qualify for free school meals, make sure your school is getting the Pupil Premium 

Many of us aren’t receiving the benefits we are entitled to – and that’s particularly true when it comes to our kids.

The Pupil Premium was introduced by the government in 2011. It is an extra benefit for children that receive free school meals, and it’s often not claimed. Here’s everything you need to know about the scheme and how to apply for it.

How it works

Schools receive a sum of money for each pupil, and put it towards ways of improving their performance in class.

Quids in! says it all the time, but still many of us aren’t receiving the benefits we are entitled to. The Children’s Society estimates that one million children are missing out on free school meals and are going hungry.

Do I qualify?

If we receive Universal Credit, (provided we have a net income of £7,400 or less), Income Support or Income-based jobseekers’ allowance, then our child will be eligible for free school meals. Also, children who are or have been in care, and children who have a parent who is or was in the armed forces, are also entitled to pupil premium. 

In 2019-20, £2.41 billion of Pupil Premium funding was allocated to around two million pupils. The amount of money given for each child depends on their family circumstances. From reception to year 6, schools receive £1,345 per eligible child. For kids in years 7-11, it’s £955. It’s more again if a child have been in care or adopted.

Remember! If our children have qualified for free school meals on the above grounds in the past, but are no longer eligible, schools still receive the Premium for another six years. Check out our page to make sure you qualify.

How is it spent?

It is up to the school to decide how they spend their Pupil Premium money. It is usually put towards one-to-one support within the classroom, employing extra teaching assistants, running a breakfast club, family therapy sessions or funding school trips. Some schools use the funding for individual pupils, like buying a PE kit or tablet. 

Healthy Start

We could also qualify for Healthy Start Vouchers (if we’re on benefits, are pregnant and under 18, or have children under the age of 4). The vouchers can be spent on milk, fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables, fresh, dried, and tinned pulses, and infant formula milk. We can also get free vitamins. Click here to check if we qualify.

Think you are entitled to free school meals and the Pupil Premium? Get in touch with your Local Authority and your child’s school, so you can be registered.
More on how free school meals (and help with other costs like uniforms and school trips), see:

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