Free school meals

Free school meals and pupil premium

If you get a qualifying benefit and you have a child in primary or secondary school, you may be eligible for free school meals.

Registering for free school meals could help your child’s school get extra funding from the government through the pupil premium. This could support areas such as extra tuition, teacher development and after school activities. Each school may use the funding slightly differently and will publish what they do on their website. This funding can really make a difference.

Free school meal benefit criteria

Free school meals are available to children whose parent or carer gets one of the following benefits (young people who get any of these benefits directly, instead of through a parent or carer, can also apply for free school meals):

Children at schools outside of Enfield

If your child attends a school in another borough, you will need to apply to the relevant council or school directly.

Schools that manage their own free school meals

If your child attends one of the schools listed below, please apply directly to the school:

Who can get free school meals?

Mayor of London universal free school meals 2023 to 2024

Following an announcement made by the Mayor of London, from September 2023, all primary school children in state-funded schools in London will automatically get free school meals for the 2023 to 2024 academic year. This could save families around £440 per child across the year. For more information, visit Mayor of London - Free School Meals

Primary school children will automatically get their free school meal whether their parent or carer gets a qualifying benefit or not, but it’s very important that families on benefits still complete an application form for free school meals. If you qualify, your child will continue to get free school meals in September 2024.

Children in reception, year 1 and year 2 (key stage 1)

All children in reception, year 1 and year 2, automatically get free school meals if they go to a state school, whether their parent or carer gets a qualifying benefit or not. This is called Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM).

If you are a low-income family and get one of the benefits listed, you should still register for UIFSM. If your child is eligible, their free school meal entitlement will be protected until they reach the end of their current phase of education (primary school), even if your circumstances change.

To register, please collect an application form from your child’s school.

If your application is successful, we will let your child’s school know.

Children in year 3 and above (key stage 2, 3 and 4)

Children in other years groups, including secondary schools, may be eligible for free school meals if their parent or carer gets any of the benefits listed.

Students aged 16 to 18 (key stage 5)

Students who attend a sixth form attached to an Enfield secondary school, may be eligible for free school meals if they or their parent or carer gets any of the benefits listed.

How to apply

To apply, save the free school meals application form (PDF, 101.88 KB) to your device, fill in your details, and then email as an attachment to

You can also apply by asking your child’s school for a paper form which you can return to them or direct to us.

You do not need to provide evidence of your benefit when you submit your application form. However, if the result of the check cannot be determined, we will write to you to request proof of benefit or for more information.

If your application is successful, we will let your child’s school know.

How long applications take to process

Please allow up to 10 working days for applications to be processed. We strive, and frequently achieve to process applications much quicker. However, during peak periods, in August, September and October, the number of applications and enquiries we receive increases considerably and you may experience delays. If you have already applied and are waiting, please do not apply again unless you are providing new information. This will help us process any backlog as soon as possible.

How we check entitlement

We use the Department for Educations Eligibility Checking Service (DfE ECS) to check if you qualify for free school meals. The DfE ECS checks data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Home Office (HO) and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The DfE ECS will only show whether you are eligible or not - it does not give us any other information about you or your child.

There is no provision to backdate free school meals. A child is only eligible for free school meals from the date their eligibility is checked and confirmed by us.

Universal Credit transitional protection

Children are protected against losing their free school meal entitlement, as follows:

On 1 April 2018, the benefit related free school meal (FSM) protections policy was introduced, known as Universal Credit transitional protection. The policy protects benefit related FSM children from losing their entitlement while Universal Credit is being rolled out. This means, children who currently get FSM or children who gain eligibility, will continue to get them up until March 2025, regardless of any changes which exceeds the eligibility threshold. After March 2025, children will continue to get FSM until the end of their current phase of education (primary or secondary school).

A child is only eligible to get FSM when a claim for the meal has been made on their behalf, and their eligibility or protected status has been verified by us.

Free school meals are awarded on an individual child basis, not a family basis. Siblings do not gain automatic entitlement to free school meals. This means, to qualify the parent or carer must meet the eligibility criteria each time an application is made.

If your child moves school

You should let us know if your child moves school. This will make sure your child’s benefit related free school meal entitlement transfers to their new school. If you move to another borough, contact the new school or local authority and ask how to apply for free school meals.

Families with no recourse to public funds

The government has permanently extended free school meal eligibility to all children in households with no recourse to public funds (NRPF), subject to maximum income thresholds. Income includes any income or support you get in addition to the combined earnings of you and your partner.

To find out who is eligible, read the Department for Education (DfE)’s guidance on providing free school meals to families with no recourse to public funds.

To apply, complete the application form on the DfE website. You must also submit evidence as listed in the guidance provided.

Submit your application and evidence by email to

Contact us

ESAS and Free School Meals
Civic Centre
Silver Street

Email -

Telephone - 020 8379 5367 (Monday to Friday, from 9am to 1pm)

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