Free School Meal Eligibility Checking Service


To assist schools by assessing Free School Meal (FSM) entitlement for new claimants against the Government’s Eligibility Checking Service (ECS).


General FSM enquiries; FSM batch processing queries; Escalations - Systems & Information Team -

Queries on individual FSM applications submitted by schools via S2S - Business Support Team -

Service Level agreement and all other queries -

Paul Brotherton, Systems and School Support Manager -

Anjum Javaid, Systems and Information Officer -


Documents for Download

Please find below a list of the documents attached along with its purpose:

01 FSM Documentation Release Contents | an itemised listing of all free school meals documents available as part of this release.

Your guide to FSM and our service (April 2020) | a detailed guide showing how to access our eligibility checking service, how to interpret eligibility results and answers to frequently asked questions.

Quick guide to FSM and our service (April 2020) | a handy two page abbreviated version of the main guide.

FSM Master  | the Microsoft Excel template SLA member schools should use when submitting termly eligibility check requests at the end of term.

SBC FSM Application Form Template | a template application form schools can provide to their parents wishing to apply for free school meals.  This application form must be returned to the school office.  Parents wishing to apply online should be referred to the SBC website.

Eat for free UIFSM Registration Form | a template application form which infant and primary schools are welcome to provide to parents of children in infant classes.  Children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 are entitled to a free school lunch and are not required to apply for it.  However, schools receive Pupil Premium for anyone who also meets the benefit related FSM criteria.

Free School Meals A4 Poster | a poster suitable for display on noticeboards advertising free school meals.

Free School Meals – Do You Qualify (Primary) | a leaflet suitable for parents of children in the primary school phase explaining the eligibility criteria and application process for free school meals.

Free School Meals – Do You Qualify (Secondary) | as above but for parents of children in the secondary school phase.

Proving Your Eligibility | a list of acceptable forms of proof parents must provide if there is ever a query regarding their free school meal eligibility.


How this service is funded

This is a traded service available to all schools.  The service runs from 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021 and costs £500.

Who is this service for

All schools including academies can use this service.

Further details of service

SLA staff will:

  • Issue process documentation for schools, providing guidance on how to access the FSM eligibility service
  • Issue template FSM application forms which schools can use / modify to capture data from applicants
  • Issue the template FSM master spreadsheet, required for completion of batch checks
  • Provide support, advice and guidance to nominated school FSM staff
  • Issue reminders to schools of FSM master spreadsheet return dates
  • Process ad-hoc applications and return results via S2S messaging
  • Process batch check spreadsheets which are submitted timely and accurately and return to schools via S2S generic file upload
  • Maintain an online application service for parents to apply directly to the LA if preferred
  • Continually assess and develop systems and processes in order to improve the service
  • Retain an overview of government legislation and guidance and communicate any changes
  • Respond to all correspondence, whether written or verbal, within 10 working days

Processing timescales

  • FSM master spreadsheets should be returned, when prompted, before the end of each term.  Results will be sent back to schools ready for the start of the following term.  Any batch spreadsheets submitted after the end of term deadline will not be processed.
  • FSM ad-hoc check requests via S2S – processed within 10 working days
  • Online applications made directly via SBC website – processed within 10 working days

Member schools will:

  • Read and fully understand all process documentation and communication provided, raising queries at the earliest opportunity should anything be unclear
  • At all times, ensure at least 2 members of staff are capable of maintaining the school’s responsibilities with regards to this agreement (thereby ensuring continuity of service)
  • Attempt to gather relevant data e.g. DOB, NI number from parents, maximising the likelihood of obtaining data which can be used for eligibility assessments
  • Ensure data collection sheets, application forms and privacy notices make reference to the purpose data will be used for and the school’s Data Protection procedures
  • Return all FSM master spreadsheets by the deadline date stipulated (late returns will not be processed)
  • Not alter the formatting or column headers on the master spreadsheet templates in any way
  • Input data onto the spreadsheet templates in the correct format.  Any spreadsheets containing inaccuracies will be returned to the school for correction before processing takes place.
  • Ensure the master spreadsheets sent each term contains all new applications and those previous applicants who as far as you are aware are currently ineligible (currently eligible applicants will not need to have their eligibility re-assessed at least until the government has completed the roll out of Universal Credit).
  • Send in-term ad-hoc requests (maximum 5 children) using the S2S messaging functionality on Secure Access
  • Promote the benefits of applying for Free School Meals via newsletters, e-mails, website links etc.
  • Upon receipt of eligibility information from the LA, notify those parents who applied directly to the school whether or not they are eligible.
  • Record all free school meal eligibility dates within the school’s Management Information System.
  • NOT record an end date for FSM eligibility without first checking with the LA.
Document downloads