Free School Meals (FSM)

The following guidance applies to schools only (Early Years settings, please contact the Early Years team in Family Services –  Tel. 0800 389 8312 or We cannot answer any FSM queries from parents.  All queries regarding Free School Meals must come via the school.


Full guidance can be found at the following link:

 A letter template for use by schools to inform parents can be found on the following link:

Template for ad hoc checks

In addition to the Free School Meals ID check using schools’ Census data, we help to confirm whether an individual pupil is entitled to FSM to ensure that the school is able to provide free school meals to those children who are eligible and wish to receive school lunches. We can check one or two over the phone: please phone Viktorija Kviatkovskaite (020 8359 2799). However, if you have more than a few to check, please enter the details into an Excel spread-sheet and send it to Viktorija (Viktorija Kviat on USO-FX) and Eva Wilsmore via USO-FX. Requests for checking cannot be sent via email as they contain personal data.

An example of how the spread-sheet should look is below:





NI Number

Leave Blank


Surname (or just first 3 letters)









If you are unsure of any item of data (e.g. which surname to use in a double barrelled surname) simply enter the same data on a second line with the other option. Save the spread-sheet with the name of your school and the date in the title. When we receive it, we upload it and the system will automatically check for entitlements.

The database is a ‘live’ database and when the information comes back to us, it states the result as ‘True’ or ‘False’, i.e. ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether they are entitled to FSM as at today’s date. It does not provide any historical information or any additional information.

The database is fed with information from the Department of Work and Pensions. Therefore a new claimant may not show up until two weeks after they have been accepted by the DWP, so it is wise to check again after a few weeks, if you think that it is a new, recent claimant.

If you need any further clarification or help, please phone or email Viktorija Kviatkovskaite (, tel: 020 8359 2799) or Eva Wilsmore (, tel: 020 8359 4171).  If you reach voicemail, please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

New for 2016

There will be several changes to the service for the period of 2017-18:

  • The cost for the service will be calculated differently from April next year to make it fairer for all schools. More details soon.
  • The checking exercise for Census returns will be run in October and January (but not May). Ad-hoc checks are available throughout the year.
  • Guidance on how to record addresses will be released sometime in 2016 to allow schools to clean their address data. Checking will be undertaken only on clean address data (more on this when the Guidance is released).

Last updated 1 September 2016

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