Free School Meals


Free school meals are available to students in receipt of, or whose parents are in receipt of, one or more of the following benefits:

  • 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
  • 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 four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit


Students entitled to free school meals are allowed to purchase two different items, regardless of price, for their lunch. The free school meal allowance applies to lunches only, purchased in the Dining Hall and is available during Period 3 lunch break. Purchases made outside of lunch time must be paid for by topping up your child’s account on Parent Pay.


  • School lunches provide a healthy, nutritious and tasty meal of a main course and pudding (drinks extra)
  • Research shows that a school lunch can help concentration levels
  • Menus are varied and are available from the school
  • Schools may be able to receive additional DfE funding
  • Financial assistance may be available for trips or activities directly related to the taught curriculum


Applications are made online using the Department for Education Eligibility Checking Service (ECS) which allows your eligibility to be checked confidentially online speeding up the application process. You will need to have your National Insurance number to hand to do so.

If you cannot access the online Application Form or need assistance, we can complete the application on your behalf.  Please phone the school on 01344 624826 or email with your National Insurance number to hand to discuss.

Apply here.


As of March 2024, the government have extended the protection period for free school meals eligibility by a further 12 months, to March 2025.

They state that “any pupil gaining eligibility for free school meals after 1 April 2018 will be protected against losing free school meals until March 2025. After March 2025, 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 (i.e. primary or secondary).”

If your child is eligible for FSM at their current school, please use the online checker in the first instance for this to be confirmed to us.

If the online checker gives a negative response and you want to request financial assistance e.g. towards the cost of school uniform, before your child is on roll at Charters School, we shall need confirmation from their current school e.g. an email stating the date they became eligible. Once a child has started their education at Charters School, the confirmation is transferred to us electronically.


If your child is eligible for free school meals they are also able to have porridge each morning before school in the dining area, provided free of charge by Cucina, our catering partner.  This is a really nutritious way to start the day and we encourage all FSM  students to go to the dining room to pick up their breakfast porridge.