Free school meals


The eligibility for free school meals depends on which year group your child is in.

Nursery students

To be eligible for free school meals:

  • Your child must attend a Rochdale Borough Council maintained nursery
  • Your child must receive education before and after lunch
  • You must also receive one of the qualifying benefits listed below

Reception, year 1 and year 2 students

All children 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.

Year 3 - year 11 students

To be eligible for free school meals:

  • You, as the parent or guardian, must receive Child Benefit for the child you are responsible for
  • You must also receive one of the qualifying benefits listed  below

16-19 year-old students

To be eligible for free school meals:

  • You must go to secondary school or a sixth form attached to a secondary school
  • You or your parent or guardian must also receive one of the qualifying benefits listed below

Qualifying benefits

These are the qualifying benefits for free school meals:

  • Income Support (IS).
  • Income-based Jobseeker's 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: your child is only eligible for free schools meals under Universal Credit if you and your partner have net earnings of less than £7,400 per year. We'll check your earnings with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). This criteria came into place on Sunday, 1 April 2018. However:
    • If your child was eligible for free school meals before Sunday, 1 April 2018, they'll stay eligible until Friday, 31 March 2023, regardless of if you or your partner's income changes.
    • After Friday, 31 March 2023, your child will stay eligible until the end of their current phase of education. For example, if your child is in year 4 in 2023, they will remain eligible until they finish primary school but will no longer be eligible for free school meals in secondary school if you and your partner's net income is more than £7,400 per year.