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Free school meals

Free school meals are now authorised directly via your child's school.

Receiving free school meals

Schools operate cashless canteens, so there is nothing to distinguish a child using free school meals from those whose parents and carers pay for lunches.


The government provides free school meals for all pupils in reception to year 2 who attend state funded primary schools.

The Greater London Authority has provided funding to local authorities to extend this entitlement to year groups 3 to 6, from September 2023 to July 2024. This funding has now been extended until July 2025.

In both cases, children will receive the entitlements automatically, but it is really important for parents on a low income, or who are in receipt of certain benefits, to apply for mean-tested free school meals in order for your child's school to receive extra funding.

Means-tested free school meals

If eligible for benefit-related free school meals, your child's school will get additional funding through the Pupil Premium - up to £1,455. That's extra money to spend on enrichment activities, teacher development and targeted support for the children that need it most.

Pupils receiving, or whose parents are receiving, one or more of the following benefits can apply:

  • 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 guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you are 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

Children who get any of these benefits directly (instead of through a parent or guardian) can also get free school meals.

Children under the compulsory school age who are in full time education may also be eligible for free meals.

Children in households with no recourse to public funds (NRPF)

The government have permanently extended free school meal eligibility to children in all households with no recourse to public funds (NRPF), subject to maximum income thresholds.

Read the NRPF guidance which explains who these groups are and how schools can verify their eligibility and award free school meals. 

How to apply

Every Community, V.A Foundations, Academy and Free School in Richmond is responsible for authorising free school meals for their pupils.

For queries and to apply for free school meals, contact your child's school directly.

Find your child's school

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