Concern over free school meals

January 21 2022

Children could be missing out on free school meals in Bristol because their eligibility is not checked often enough, according to a manager at a local school.
Pupils may qualify for free school meals if their parent or carer receives any of a number of benefits, such as income support or Universal Credit.
Chris Pring, business manager at Cabot Primary School in St Paul’s, said eligibility checks used to happen weekly but now occur once and “that’s the end of it”.
He said schools could check eligibility more regularly but it is a time-consuming process without the right software, which smaller schools do not have.
“I think pupils in Bristol are significantly missing out on potentially being eligible for free school meals because that check isn’t being done on a weekly basis,” he told Bristol Schools Forum on January 13.
Mr Pring said that with the right software, the check is run weekly “forever and a day” and flags up whenever a child becomes eligible.
“That software is freely available to purchase outside. It’s too big really for a small school to purchase, but I know bigger schools who’ve purchased it and are reaping the rewards in the fact that that automatically gets checked on a weekly basis.
Bristol City Council’s education director, Alison Hurley, said she was interested in hearing more about the software from Mr Pring after the meeting.