Newham
warning icon
Essential maintenance this weekend to our Housing Management System and planned website maintenance work
Housing Rent Account Balances and some Online Customer Forms will be unavailable via My Newham from Friday 20 September at 5pm until Monday 23 September 2019. Customers can still make payments, but online account balances will not be updated until Monday 23 September 2019. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.​

Free school meals

Lunchtime hot and cold meals are available at all of the primary and secondary schools in Newham. There has never been a better time for your child to stay in school for a healthy lunch. All schools have good dining facilities and menus follow the standards laid down by the Department for Education’s School Food in England Standards March 2019.​​
Children eating free school meals at lunchtime

Free school meals in primary schools

Every primary school aged child attending school in Newham still has the opportunity to have a free school lunch even if their parents/carers are not in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits for free school meals.

 

Extra funding for your child's school

Whether your child is at primary school and receiving a free meal, has lunch at home or you are currently working, we request that the parents/carers of all primary and secondary aged children in Newham should still register for free school meals, even if you don’t think you are currently eligible. 

Once we have the application if at anytime a family is in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits for free school meals we will automatically update our records and their school will receive additional funding known as Ever6 Pupil Premium. This is up to £1,320 depending on the child’s age.
 
 

Apply for free school meals in primary and secondary schools

Apply for free school meals

Make sure you have your National Insurance number to hand before you fill in the form. 
Apply for free school meals
We use your National Insurance number to find out from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) whether or not you qualify for free school meals.
Note, the DWP will only tell us if you qualify. They will not give us any information about the benefits you receive.

Eligibility

Your child may receive free school meals if you get any of the following benefits:
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • the guarantee element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you're not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190 
  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit - if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

Children who get paid these benefits directly, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals.

 ​

Transitional protection

What is transitional protection? 

From 1 April 2018, transitional protections were implemented by the Department for Education (DfE) in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to minimise the impact of the rollout of Universal Credit and the introduction of the net earned threshold to determine eligibility for free school meals and to ensure no pupil loses a meal as result of these changes.

Who be will awarded transitional protection and how long will it be in place?  

Any claimant (parent/guardian with parental responsibility) who

  • was in receipt of free school meals on 31 March 2018 should continue to receive free school meals until the end of the universal credit roll out period, and then until their phase of education ends - this covers until at least Summer 2023 and applies even if their circumstances change and they would no longer meet the eligibility criteria. 

  • ​gained eligibility for free school meals from 1 April 2018 will continue to receive free school meals until the end of the universal credit rollout period, and then until their phase of education ends - this covers until at least Summer 2023 and applies even if their circumstances change and they would no longer meet the eligibility criteria.

Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out, any existing pupil who no longer meets the eligibility criteria at that point will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their current phase of education, i.e. primary or secondary. For nursery pupils with free school meals entitlement the end of phase is defined by the DfE as the end of the primary phase.

New starters who have sibling with transitional protection

Transitional protections are put in place on an individual child basis, not on a family basis. This means that children will not become automatically entitled to free school meals simply because their sibling is in receipt of transitional protections.

Extending transitional protections to families would lead to unfairness in the system for those children without siblings. 

The new child must meet the eligibility criteria at the time the application for free school meals is made in order to be entitled to free school meals. So for reception children we will need a fresh free school meals form as the families entitlement cannot be applied. 
 
 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Who should apply for free school meals?


In Newham we request all families with children of school age who are attending a state funded school to apply for free school meals irrespective of their employment or immigration status. Only those in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits will be entitled but we use the application every week to recheck all the claims in our database. This means we maximise the number of children in receipt of free school meals without families having to remember to reapply or notify us when their circumstances change.   

Why do families with children in primary school need to apply for free school meals, when the children eat for free?


Although primary children eat for free knowing their official free school entitlement information is very important to schools. Children whose families are in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits the school will receive additional funding known as Pupil Premium and other funding is linked to free school meals data if they have applied. 
   

How often do families need to reapply for free school meals?


Families in Newham only need to submit one free school meal application for the duration of their child’s education in the borough. Pupil Services use this form to recheck the entitlement status every week so we don’t need anyone to complete more than one form.

Do families need to reapply if their child changes school?


No, if you have an application in the system you do not need to reapply if your child changes school within Newham. Families do not even have to reapply when their child moves from primary to secondary school as Pupil Services will notify secondary schools of the free school meal status for the year 6 pupils due to start at their school.   

How is free school meal entitlement determined (worked out)?


Pupil Services submit the applicants name, date of birth and national insurance number from the free school meal application form to the Department for Education’s eligibility checking service known as ECS for a decision. This database holds all live (current) benefit information provided by the Department for Work and Pensions and Asylum Seeker information form the Home Office.  The ECS provides the entitlement status.  

Should families be asked for proof of their benefits for free school meals purposes?


Not in the majority of cases. Since the introduction in 2014 no local authority or school in England should ask for proof of benefit. Entitlement is determined via the Department for Education’s ECS. 

However a manual check of your benefits will be required to determine eligibility for self employed Universal Credit claimants. These families will need to submit their proof (see next question for more detail).

If any school located in Newham asks for proof of benefit and the family are not self employed Universal Credit claimants please notify Pupil Services immediately by emailing pupil.services@newham.gov.uk​ or calling 020 8430 2000.     

Do Council officers or school staff see the amount of earning or benefit applicants are receiving?


Not in most cases, as the Department for Education’s ECS only provides one of three outcomes, entitled, not entitled or details not found. This means applicants personal benefit information remains confidential.

However a manual check will be required to determine eligibility for self-employed Universal Credit claimants. These claimants will need to provide evidence that:
  • They are in receipt of Universal Credit, by providing their Universal Credit award letter
  • They are self-employed, by providing a copy of their company registration or tax return form
  • ​Their monthly net earnings do not exceed the threshold as set out above. Schools should request that self-employed claimants complete the self-declaration

What happens when a new claim form is received by Pupil Services?


The applicants details are uploaded to the Department for Education’s ECS for a decision. The outcome is returned to Pupil Services and if the first claim, an outcome letter will be sent to the applicant. The letter will apply to every child in the applicants immediate family as all children are linked on our database. If a family submits a second, third etc. form they will not receive a letter as our system is set up to only send outcomes to the original claim.  

The outcome of each claim is also sent to the child school so they can add this information to the pupil’s record. 

What happens if an applicants' entitlement to the qualifying benefits changes? 


Where a free school meal entitlement change is reported by the Department for Educations ECS  via Pupil Services weekly claim reviews we update our database, write to the applicants with their new status and notify the school.  

 
 

School meals evaluation report

The school meals evaluation report​ (PDF) provides an update on the provision of school meals in primary and secondary schools in Newham. The report examines the nutritional value of foods for school aged children which should support their growth and educational achievements at school.

Schools play an important role in providing nutritious food to their pupils and school lunch is a pivotal meal in every child's day.
​​​​
Back to top