Free school meals (FSM): funding

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 receive and learn how FSM are funded in special schools.

Last reviewed on 4 September 2023See updates
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 9183
  1. There's no specific funding for pre-16 FSM
  2. Special schools
  3. Post-16 pupils
  4. Funding for UIFSM
  5. Managing the cost of meals

There's no specific funding for pre-16 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.

Special schools

Unlike mainstream schools, the 'place funding' system for allocating funding to special schools doesn't take into account