Schools and education

Bishop Arden project update: Due to projections showing the need for secondary school places in Hillingdon continuing to fall, plans for Bishop Arden Free School have been withdrawn and the new free school that was previously proposed will not be built.

Free school meals

If you have children up to the age of 19 years in full-time education at a Hillingdon school, they may be eligible for free school meals.

In this section

London Mayor's free school meal proposal

Free school meals are currently in place for reception to year 2 children and pupils from low-income families.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan announced that he would be extending the funding for free school meals for all primary-age children (years 3 to 6) until July 2025.

Parents/carers will need to liaise with their child's school directly for information on how to access these free school meals, as some schools will deliver them through internal caterers and other schools will use external caterers (where parents may need to pre-order).

More information will be made available through your child's school.

Does my child qualify for free school meals?

School meals
Infant free school meals

Your child will be able to get free school meals if they are in a government-funded school and in:

  • reception class
  • year 1
  • year 2.

Year 3 up to 19 years old in a Hillingdon school

You must be receiving 1 of the following benefits to claim free school meals:

  • 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 Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income of £16,190 or less, as assessed by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs
  • 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 receive).

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

Your child may also get free school meals if you receive any of these benefits and your child is both:

Please note:

  • If your child is eligible for free school meals, they will remain eligible until they finish the phase of schooling (primary or secondary) they are in.
  • Hillingdon Council does not set the qualifying criteria for free school meals and we are unable to waive them. Any change to the criteria is a matter for central (not local) government.
  • If you have a child starting school for the first time and already receive free school meals for other children, you will still need to complete a new application.
  • All enquiries about free school meals should be directed to your child's school.

Apply for free school meals

To apply for free school meals, you need to apply to your child's school directly. You will need to provide the following details, so your application can be assessed:

  • your National Insurance number / NASS number (can be found on your benefit letters)
  • your date of birth
  • your surname
  • your full address
  • your child(ren)'s details.

If you have any questions about applying for free school meals, please contact your child's school directly.

If your child is in receipt of free school meals, you may also qualify for the Household Support Fund and our Holiday Activities and Food Programme .

Renewing a claim for free school meals

Your free school meals provider will contact you to confirm entitlement has started.

Your child will continue to receive free school meals for as long as your eligibility can be confirmed. 

Please note: We are unable to backdate claims for free school meals to cover unpaid dinner money, or to refund dinner money paid prior to the date of a successful application.

Changes to your benefit entitlement

Please contact your child's school immediately if your benefit changes or ends, as it may mean you no longer qualify for free school meals. If it is found that you did not notify us that you were no longer entitled to claim free school meals, you will be invoiced for the cost of all school meals taken free to which your child(ren) were not entitled.

Other help

  • Benefit Helpline: 0345 300 3900 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm, and Saturday, 8am to 4pm)
  • JobCentre Plus: 0800 0556688 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm)
    Page last updated: 01 Feb 2024