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Free School Meals

Question for Department for Education

UIN 158997, tabled on 25 April 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether provision is in place for supplying free school meal vouchers to children who are registered at a school but are unable to attend for prolonged periods and who are entitled to free school meals.

Answered on

27 April 2022

The department’s overall preference is for pupils to be in school wherever possible as that is the best place for learning.

Free school meals (FSM) are intended to support children in education, not to cover circumstances where a pupil is unable to undertake school activities. The department recognises, however, that there may be cases where a pupil is well enough to undertake education remotely.

Where pupils eligible for benefits-related FSM are receiving remote education, the department have published advice for schools to state that schools should work with their school catering team or food provider to provide good quality lunch parcels. This will ensure that eligible pupils continue to be supported for the short period they are unable to attend school. The full FSM guidance can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools-and-local-authorities.

There is already guidance in place to help schools deal with longer term absences on a case-by-case basis. This can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/illness-child-education.