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Free School Meals & Pupil Premium

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Free School Meals

From 6 April 2010, children whose parents receive ONE or more of the following benefits will be entitled to receive free school meals (FSM):

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related employment and support allowance (this benefit was introduced 27th October 2008)
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Child Tax Credit (provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit) and have an annual income that does not exceed £16190 (as assessed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs)
    Note: from 1 May 2009 where a parent is entitled to Working Tax Credit during the four-week period immediately after their employment ceases, or after they start to work less than 16 hours per week, their children are entitled to free school lunches.
  • The Guarantee element of State Pension Credit

If you are in receipt of any of the above benefits, please complete the application form below. You can also contact the Free School Meals section of Brighton and Hove Council on or 01273 293497.

Current Free School Meal allowance is £2.20. Even if you intend to send your child to school with a packed lunch, you should apply for free school meals if you are eligible for them. This is because being registered for FSM will allow your child to claim additional financial support for other schemes that may become available from time to time.

Free School Meals Checker

If you are unsure whether you will qualify for free school meals then the 'Free School Meals checker' website offers a simple way to check prior to completing your application:

If your child is entitled to free school meals, it is very important that you claim it – even if you do not intend to use it. Under new government regulations, free school meals will be used as the basis for a range of other funds that can be targeted to help your child individually.


You can download a copy of the application form or apply online.

Children losing their FSM dinner card will be issued with a new one at the canteen help desk. The first replacement card is free but after that, there is a charge of £3.50 for each replacement card.


Pupil Premium

The Pupil Premium is additional funding for publicly funded schools in England to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils of all abilities and to close the gaps between them and their peers.  Secondary schools receive £935 for each eligible student.

Each school must publish a strategy for the school’s use of the Pupil Premium. 

For the current academic year, schools must include:

  • the Pupil Premium grant allocation amount
  • a summary of the main barriers to educational achievement faced by eligible pupils at the school
  • how we will spend the Pupil Premium to address those barriers and the reasons for that approach
  • how we will measure the impact of the Pupil Premium
  • the date of the next review of the school’s Pupil Premium strategy

For the previous academic year, we must include:

  • how we spent the Pupil Premium allocation
  • the impact of the expenditure on eligible and other pupils

How does Varndean use the Pupil Premium?

Numerous studies have found that the most effective use of the Pupil Premium is to ensure consistently great teaching, every lesson, every day. We strongly believe that if we have an expertly trained teaching staff, who are leaders of their own subjects, reflective and engaged in research about what makes the most difference to all student outcomes and staff are well-resourced, supported and held to account, then all students will do well. 

The tiered approach taken by Varndean is recommended in the EEF Guide to pupil Premium (2021) which suggests the following prioritisation of Pupil Premium funding:

Tier 1: Quality First Teaching

To facilitate excellent, inclusive classroom teaching. Spending on improving teaching might include professional development, training, support and recruitment and retention. Ensuring an effective teacher is in front of every class, and that every teacher is supported to keep improving the inclusivity of their teaching, is the key ingredient of a successful school and should rightly be the top priority for Pupil Premium spending.

Tier 2: Targeted Academic Support

Evidence consistently shows the positive impact that targeted academic support can have, including on those who are not making good progress across the spectrum of achievement. Considering how classroom teachers and support staff can provide targeted academic support, including how to link structured one-to-one or small group support to classroom teaching, is a key component of our Pupil Premium strategy. 

Tier 3: Wider strategies  

Wider strategies relate to the most significant non-academic barriers to success in school, including attendance, behaviour and social and emotional support. We place high priority on students having access to digital devices, resources and revision guides to enable all students to access school work/prep at home, placing no student at a disadvantage. Bespoke support for families is available as a contingency fund should families need this to remove barriers to learning for their child.

Elise James

Assistant Headteacher 


Pupil Premium Successes 2021-2022

Please click here to see a comprehensive list of the successes this year.

Varndean School Pupil Premium Statement 2021-2022