School Census - Universal Infant Free School Meals

To be completed by:

Time: - | Venue:

Updated information from the DfE regarding UIFSM & how to record 'School Lunches Taken' on the school census.

You may have seen the guidance given by the DfE regarding UIFSM for the school census. It states –

Where COVID-19 related absences occur and ‘school lunches taken’ are affected, a day and time when the situation is regarded as normal is to be substituted. Schools can use the next normal day, an earlier day in census week or another day that reflects the normal situation. Where other days or times are used, schools must record these for audit purposes.


However, there are some scenarios which do not qualify as an unusual circumstance and therefore pupils must be recorded as NOT having taken a school lunch:

  • If the school kitchen is closed and the school have not offered any alternative provision;
  • Pupils who have changed their preference to bring a packed lunch
  • Pupils are absent for other reasons not connected to COVID-19.


Following this, we have been informed that schools must use a day from this academic year only to ensure a true reflection of the cohort is given.

To prevent schools from missing out on funding the DfE have said schools can use a different day for each year group if there isn’t one ‘normal’ day where all students were in school.

We are asking that any schools who have used a substituted day from last academic year re-run their census to ensure the guidance is being followed.

Please contact if you have an questions.


Published: 15/10/2020
Audience: Headteachers,Senior Leadership Team, Data Managers and School Administrators
Contact: Vicky Jacques

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