Last reviewed on 14 April 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 9183

Mainstream schools should use their core budget allocations to provide FSM to pre-16 pupils, and can receive funding for disadvantaged post-16 pupils. Find out how much you'll get and learn how FSM are funded in special schools.

Pre-16 funding is not specifically designated for FSM

Maintained schools and academies don't receive funding specifically designated for free school meals (FSM). You should use the funds available in your school’s budget to cover the cost of the meals.

This is because disadvantaged pupils already attract additional funding through school funding formulas, in recognition of the extra costs schools bear in supporting them (including the cost of providing FSM).

You don’t have to spend a specific amount of your school’s funding on providing FSM.

You also don’t have to spend all of the additional funding allocated through local funding formula deprivation factors on FSM.

The Department for Education (DfE) explained this to us.

Post-16 pupils

Maintained or academy schools with attached sixth forms must