Families who are entitled to free school meals are being urged to complete registration forms so that schools continue to receive additional valuable funding.
From the start of this new school term, free school meals will be available to every child in reception, year 1 and year 2.
Children in all years whose parents are in receipt of relevant benefits will continue to be entitled to free school meals as before through the completion and return of a free school meal application form.
These forms, including those for infant-aged children, provide schools with additional Pupil Premium funding – worth £1,300 a year per pupil.
Pupil Premiums are important to schools, as they are used to improve learning opportunities, particularly for disadvantaged children.
The funding is spent on a range of enhancements that can include additional teaching staff, extra curriculum opportunities such as out-of-hours clubs or to pay for equipment.
Free school meals save parents money as well as offering children a healthy, balanced diet. Educational attainment also rises when children are healthier and are able to concentrate on school work without the distraction of being hungry.
Cllr John Ennis, Reading’s Lead Member for Education, said:
“Universal Infant Free School Meals are important in levelling the playing field and giving all four-to-seven-year-olds the best possible start to their education. Happy, healthy children do better at school, and good eating habits can be encouraged from an early age through the provision of a balanced school meal.
“It is vital, though, that families entitled to free school meals – irrespective of their children’s ages – still complete the registration form. This is used to calculate the Pupil Premium; funding that is used by schools to offer important extras and additional support.”
Children whose parents receive any of the following support payments may be entitled to receive free school meals:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseekers’ 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, as assessed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs)
Parents of children in Reading Borough schools can find more information at www.reading.gov.uk/schoolmeals or by calling the School Meals Support Service on 0118 937 4285. In Wokingham, the web address is www.wokingham.gov.uk/schools/meals, and in West Berkshire it’s www.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=28013.