Extra funding for families and schools

There’s a lot to think about now the children are back at school, so families on qualifying benefits are reminded to check if their child or children could receive a free school meal.

They could save families up to £450 per year per child and their school could get extra government funding, known as the Pupil Premium, to boost their education.

It is easy to find out if you qualify for free school meals. Complete the confidential checker at dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/free-school-meals or telephone 01305 221090.

Extra funding for children’s education

Families who receive certain benefits with children below age 7 are also encouraged to apply for the Pupil Premium for their school or early years setting. This unlocks extra government funding for teaching, activities and equipment to help their education. It is paid directly to the school or early years childcare provider and could be between £985 and £1,385 per year. If every eligible pupil claimed, it could mean an extra £2 million for Dorset schools!

How to apply:

Early Years Pupil Premium for ages 3 and 4

Visit Early years pupil premium funding – Dorset Council or talk to your childcare provider who will check your eligibility and apply for the funding.

This funding could help your child:

  • have access to extra resources and equipment suited to their needs
  • have new play, learning and activity experiences
  • be more prepared for starting school

Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 (ages 5-7)

If your child is in reception, year 1 or year 2, they automatically receive Universal Infant Free School Meals. However, if you claim certain benefits your child’s school could also receive extra government funding, but you need to apply for this for your school. It is quick and easy to apply – visit Apply for pupil premium – Dorset Council

Year 3 onwards (age 7 years and over)

The Pupil Premium is paid automatically by the government to school for pupils aged 7 years and over who receive free school meals. Families receiving qualifying benefits need to apply for free school meals so their school can receive the Pupil Premium. If you receive benefits and think your child could be eligible for free school meals, visit our free school meals web pages 

Cllr Andrew Parry, Portfolio Holder for Children, Education, Skills and Early Help, said:

“We are encouraging all families receiving benefits to check if they are eligible for free school meals for their children, and extra funding for their child’s education.

“Your child may have started school or early years childcare for the first time, or you may have experienced a change in your finances. If so, we encourage you to check if they qualify for free school meals or extra funding for their development and education. It’s quick and easy to do – visit our webpages, call us on 01305 221090 or talk to your school or childcare setting.”

Who can get free school meals

A child may be able to get free school meals if their parent or carer receives any of the following:

  • 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; this is as long as you’re not entitled to Working Tax Credit and your annual gross income is no more than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit ‘run-on’ payment (paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Universal Credit: this is as long as your household income is less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

Children who are paid these benefits directly, instead of through a parent or carer, can also get free school meals.

Free, confidential and impartial support on money worries, accessing affordable food, housing and employment rights, and looking after your mental health is available to everyone – visit our cost of living help pages.

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