What are Free School Meals?

In England a Free School Meal (FSM) is a statutory benefit available to school aged children from families who receive other qualifying benefits. If you are eligible for Free School Meals, your child will not only get a healthy lunch at school but your child can also access The Pupil Premium Grant. This grant means we are able to provide more interventions to accelerate your child’s academic progress, offer more opportunities, as well as implement interventions to develop self-esteem and their social emotional skills.

How do you know if you are entitled to FSM?

Free school meals are provided for children who are attending a school maintained by the Borough of Poole on a full-time basis. You can claim for any child who you are the parent of according to the definition of parent in the Education Act (1996) i.e. any child whom you have parental responsibility for or is in your care.

  • 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 guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit. You must also 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)

How do I apply?

Applying for FSM is simple and straightforward. All you will need is your National Insurance Number and date of birth.

If you think you are eligible you can apply by either:

  • Applying online via the BCP website
  • Download and complete a copy of the application form and send to:
    • FSM Education and Transport, BCP, Children, Young People & Learning, Dolphin Centre, Poole, BH15 1SA
    • Or email your application to fsm@bcpcouncil.gov.uk

The Department for Education records will normally confirm whether or not you’re entitled to free school meals. However, in some cases these records may not detect the qualifying benefit, in which case you will need to provide paper evidence that you receive one of the following eligibility criteria. We can support you in this, please just let us know. Please do not send original documents as we are unable to return them.

We will usually find out the success of an application within ten working days of receiving the application.


The Borough of Poole is a data controller for the purpose of the GDPR. This regulation governs how we obtain and use information about individuals. The information you supply is collected for the purpose of providing free school meals, but may be used for wider purposes. When you sign this document, you are consenting to that use. The information may be shared with other service units of the Borough of Poole, education establishments, or other local authorities.