Free School Meals in Bradford

Free School Meals in Bradford

Bradford Council's Transport and Education Team, administers Free School Meals for most schools in the Bradford District.  We hope the following information is useful for schools . We also put regular news items on the news page of Bradford Schools Online, so please make sure that staff in school that deal with free school meal queries read the news

The way Free School Meals applications are processed is changing with the introduction of a new operating system from 13th November. This system will replace the outgoing Oracle one.

You will still receive information on BSO but it may look different and be in a different format. However, it is not clear at the moment how much historical data will be kept and archived. Therefore, as a matter of caution,  you are urged to download your full free school meals list immediately so that you have a full record of those students who qualify. The start date for all students will be the date the new system goes live. Can you also ensure that your school email address is correct on BSO.

Further updates will be shared with you as they become available. If you have any questions you should contact the Free School Meals Team in the usual way by contacting

The migration to a new free school meals system which was to take place over the summer has been delayed. further information will be provided as soon as possible..  This is a back office function that should not affect how you receive data and notifications from us.

However, to ensure that all the information is correct on the new system for the start of the Autumn term, we will need to start moving children over from Nursery to Primary and Primary to Secondary a little earlier this time.  We will still be using a generic end date of the 31st August 2021, so entitlement will continue at their current school until this date.

We would also like to remind you to inform us of any school leavers (over 16) you have at the end of term so we can remove them from your BSO list.  We do not get notified of these automatically.

Please make sure that your full list is checked at the start of the Autumn term and inform us if anything is not correct.

Thank you for your assistance with this.  If you have any queries please contact the team.

We continue to receive a high volume of applications. Can you continue to advise parents that where they have had to make an application for Universal Credit for the first time, they should make an application for Free School Meals, even if their child receives  a Universal FSM. If they are already in receipt of a Free School Meal and their income has changed they do not need to apply again, these children are on your school’s Bradford Schools on Line list. If a pupil is in school because their parent is a key worker and they do not ordinarily get a free school meal, then they should not be applying for one.

Please can you continue to check your full list of children on a regular basis.  If there are any discrepancies please contact us as soon as possible,  As you are aware children are not being taken off Free School Meals due to transitional protection, from legacy benefits to Universal Credit.  If a child is not attending your school please let us know.

Administration Guide

To help your school with Free School Meal administration please download our guide to the process as it operates in Bradford. It includes information on our application process, what information we send to schools and parents and also includes information on how the introduction of free meals to infants will affect free school meals generally. Free School Meals in Bradford - A Guide for Schools . This guide was revised in September 2017.

Guide To Using Online Free School Meal Data

In September 2014 the lists of children who are currently eligible for Free School Meals were made available electronically to schools via this site. Level 1 and level 2 users will be able to view the data and it is held in the secure area for your school. Instructions on how to view this data are also held here. The data is accessed on BSO after logging in. Click on your name in the top right hand of the screen and then enter “Maintenance Tools”, “Free School Meals”  Please make sure that staff who deal with Free School Meals in your school, have the relevant access.

Introduction of Universal Credit

Following the introduction of universal credit a pupils FSM status will be protected until either the end of the universal credit roll out period ie 31 March 2022 or until the end of their current phase of education.  This means that:

  • Any claimant who is in receipt of free school meals at 1 April 2018 should continue to receive free school meals whilst Universal Credit is rolled out. This applies even if their circumstances change and they would no longer meet the eligibility criteria
  • Any claimant who gains eligibility for free school meals after 1 April 2018 and until the end of universal credit rollout (31 March 2022) should continue to receive free school meals during the Universal Credit rollout period. This applies even if their circumstances change and they would no longer meet the eligibility criteria
  • Pupils joining a school with existing protected siblings already there must apply for FSM in the normal way. The existence of a protected sibling already in school does not automatically mean the new child will receive a FSM.

Schools should also be aware that where they enter census details of pupils ending FSM after 1st April 2018, they should check with the FSM team at the Council first to find out the reason why entitlement has ended.

All children who are entitled to Free School Meals will show on your BSO list, whether they are covered by transitional protection or not.  Please continue to only give a Free School Meal to the children who show on this list.

Council Website

Information on Free School Meals is on the Council's website at and provides useful information about school meals in general and Free School Meals. It also list additional benefits children and parents may get if they are eligible for Free School Meals. Please publish this link on your school website, newsletters etc as it provides useful up to date information for parents and carers.

Who can apply for Free School Meals?

To receive a Free School Meal an application must be made and this will usually be by the parent of the child/children. The definition of "parent" in this case is not restricted to the child’s natural parents but also includes any person who is the main carer for the child and who gets of one of the qualifying benefits that give FSM entitlement. This wider definition includes grandparents, other family relations, elder brothers or sisters and family nework careres, as long as the individual concerned can prove he or she has normal parental responsibility for the child, the application will be accepted.

The UK Benefits system is currently undergoing major change with the introduction of Universal Credit which is being phased in across the country.

Under the current system, allowances and fees received by foster carers in return for fostering are fully disregarded for the purposes of calculating entitlement to means tested benefits for the purposes of calculating income related benefits, foster children are not included in the benefit assessment and therefore cannot receive means tested free school meals.

Free School Meal Application Form 

Our online free school meal application form has been improved so that parents get an immediate response to their application - telling them whether or not they qualify. As the online form is a much quicker, easier and efficient way for parents to apply we have now withdrawn the paper application form from use. Please direct your parents to the online application form.


Pupil Premium Registration Form

If you are considering using the government's Free School Meal and Pupil Premium registration form you need to be aware of the following:

  • Many children are already registered for Free School Meals - please check your up to date school records on the secure area of this website
  • Please do not submit forms to us where children are already registered
  • We will only inform schools of children who do qualify - this will be done via your school record on the secure area of this website
  • Our target time for dealing with these forms is 10 working days - at busy periods of time we may not be able to deal with them in this timescale
  • Please consider using the Council's online free school meal application form. You will then immediately know who qualifies and who does not

Processing Time For Applications

We will continue to try and process applications as quickly as possible.  However, please be aware that during busy periods, it may not be possible to process applications on the same day that they are received.

 Contact Us

Schools Only: If you have any queries about Free School Meals you can contact us

 01274 434477, please do NOT give this telephone number out to parents


Parents must contact the Council's Contact Centre on 01274 432772.  This is the only number available to parents.


Page owned by Paul Bland, last updated on 15/08/2022. This page has been viewed 49,628 times.