School pupils aged between 4 - 16 and pupils aged between 16 - 19 who go to a sixth form attached to a secondary school, may be able to get free school meals.
All pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 in state-funded schools in England are eligible for 'universal infant free school meals'. This includes academies, free schools, pupil referral units and alternative provision as well as maintained schools.
If you are eligible for free school meals based on the criteria below, please complete the application form. Your child’s eligibility will attract additional funding for their school known as a Pupil Premium payment. This money helps the school to improve the education they provide.
To apply for free school meals
Alternatively, pick up a form from your child's school.
You don't need to re-apply for free school meals every year unless your circumstances change.
If we award free school meals for a period that you've already paid for and you want a refund please contact the school directly.
You can apply for free school meals if your child attends a school maintained by Rochdale education authority and you and your child live in the borough. You must also receive any of the following benefits:
- Income Support (IS).
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (IBJSA).
- An income-related employment and support allowance.
- Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
- Child Tax Credit (provided you aren't entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an income that doesn't exceed the current year's level).
- The guaranteed element of state Pension Credit.
- Working Tax Credit during the 4-week period immediately after your employment finished.
- Universal Credit.
- You, as the parent or guardian, must receive Child Benefit for the child you are responsible for.
- Children who receive IS or IBJSA in their own right are also entitled to receive free school meals.
- Children attending Rochdale council maintained nurseries, providing they receive education before and after lunch, and whose family receives a qualifying income.
If your circumstances change
If your or your child’s circumstances change free school meals may be withdrawn. All changes of circumstance must be reported by the claimant.
Free school meals are generally awarded from the date we get the application.
If there's a break of four to five weeks in a claim for free school meals they would normally be reinstated back to the date of cancellation providing you are receiving a qualifying benefit.
It's possible for free school meals to be backdated, especially if there are arrears involved, providing the claimant was getting a qualifying benefit for the whole of the period. The parent must give good reasons, in writing, as to why they want their child's school meals payments backdating.
Is other financial help available?
Other help is available for pupils aged 16-19 in full-time education, from the Local Education Authority.
If your child is struggling with the costs of learning they should speak to student services at their school, college or training provider for more information.
Or contact Rochdale Connexions, free on 0800 195 8528.