Support at school for low-income families
Children or students from low-income families can get extra support with school, college or university.
Low income families are families that earn under a certain amount or claim some benefits. Support includes:
- Free school meals
- Pupil premium
- Free school transport
- School uniforms
- School trips
- Financial help at college and university
Here are things your child could get if your family has a low income.
Free School Meals
Free school meals in reception, year 1, and year 2
Free school meals are offered to all pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 at all government-funded schools. This is known as universal infant free school meals (UIFSM).
Tell your child’s headteacher if you receive some benefits such as income support and universal credit so your child’s school can get extra funding.
Free school meals in year 3 and above
Your child can get free school meals (FSM) if you get some benefits such as universal credit, income support and income-based jobseeker’s allowance.
Visit your child's school's website or contact them to apply for free school meals.
If your child is considered disadvantaged, their school could get extra funding to help their education. This extra funding is called pupil premium.
A child will be considered disadvantaged if they:
- get free school meals
- had free school meals in the past 6 years
- is in care, or has been in care in the past
- has parents in the services such as the armed forces
Disadvantaged children often face challenges such as poor language and communication skills, lack of confidence and issues with attendance and punctuality.
Pupil premium funding can help schools provide:
- extra one-to-one or group support
- employ extra teaching assistants
- fund trips and visits
- run catch-up sessions
Speak to your school to register for pupil premium. If you’re a service family, tell your school because the funding will be different. This is called service pupil premium (SPP).
There is also an early years pupil premium for 3 and 4 year-olds considered disadvantaged.
Free school transport
Most children can get free school transport if:
- their nearest school is beyond the statutory walking distance (2 or 3 miles depending on age)
- there is no safe walking route
- they have special educational needs or a disability (SEND) or a mobility difficulty
- they’re from low income families
Children from low income families have extended rights to free school transport. This means extra options such as eligibility on the grounds of religion or belief.
The criteria for free school transport is different if your child is at primary or secondary school.
Children of primary school age (4 to 11 years old) can get free school transport if they live more than 2 miles from their nearest suitable school.
Your child will also get free school transport if there is no safe walking route to their school, or your child has a special educational need or disability (SEND).
Find out more about free school travel assistance at primary school.
If your child is at secondary school or about to start, they could get free school transport if they’re entitled to free school meals or you get the maximum level of Working Tax Credits.
Your child will get free school transport if they either:
- attend a school between 2 and 6 miles from their home, as long as there are not 3 or more suitable schools nearer
- attend the nearest school for religious reasons between 2 and 15 miles away from their home
Religious reasons include having particular religious or philosophical beliefs or having none at all.
Use the free school transport tool to apply for free school transport at secondary school.
If you are struggling with the cost of school uniforms, first speak to your school for advice.
Buckinghamshire Council cannot help the with costs of school uniforms.
If you live in the Aylesbury area, the Aylesbury Vineyard can provide free clothing for children up to 10 years old, including school uniforms.
If your school gets pupil premium for your child, this might help to towards the cost of educational trips and visits.
If your school doesn’t get pupil premium for your child and you’re unable to afford the cost of educational trips and visits, speak to your school to see what other support could be available. The support available will be different at each school.
Financial help at college and university
Students who need extra financial help at college, university, or in training could apply for funding, bursaries, and discounts including:
- Frogmoor Funds
- 16 to 18 College Support Scheme
- 16 to 19 Bursary Fund for the most vulnerable
- Student finance and discounts
See what financial help you could get at college and university