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Decisions made by governments have provided an alternative qualification route whereby a pupil should receive a free meal at lunch time outside of the existing multiple record set which remains available as it was in in earlier versions of SIMS and shown below. These decisions were effective from 1/4/19. (Based on other documentation).
The picture above shows the new flag which should be set and is shown for Wales Only to indicate that the pupil has:
No current FSM entilement under normal Free School Meals (FSM) rules
But does have an entilement under Universal Credit Transitional Protection (UC TP).
Please note that the UC TP flag is included in CTF but would only be used to set the UC TP flag and will not unset it.
In England the flag is not available in the UI. Schools should maintain FSM records regardless of where the entitlement comes from. If the entitlement is based on UC TP then the end date might be set to:
The planned leaving date for the current school
The proposed expiry date for the transitional protection (UK Wide)
Any other date as intructed by the appropriate government source
and is usually until the pupil changes school and/or a much later date. Thus cashless caterers needing to know whether to offer a free meal would use exactly the same checks that have been used previously (a current FSM record).
Change Needed by Cashless Caterers for Wales
However in Wales, the guidance is that schools must end the FSM record when the entitlement under normal rules ends. Where the pupil is entitled to UC TP the flag will be set and pupils should be served a free meal. This is different to England and current coding and if cashless catering systems are unchanged would deny the student a free meal.
In Wales Only, Cashless caterers would need to change their code to export and check the additional field in SIMS to conclude whether a student is entitled to a free school meal.
Potential Issues in Wales
All that cashless catering systems / MIS can know is whether the flag is set at the point of export. This makes it impossible without further clarification within the catering system to conclude the date at which the UC TP applies or (less likely) no longer applies. ESS has brought this issue to the attention of the Welsh Government and there are no plans to imminently extend the requirement.
Techncal Integrators wishing to access the data can do so via out business object for editing students
The field is available through the reporting engine and this may assist some partners who use the reporting engine to extract data from SIMS. See below.
Indepenence of FSM and Universal Credit Transitional Protection
The Universal Credit Transitional Protection Flag is independent of the FSM record set, these can be set and unset independently of each other. In short:
On a given date
UC TP Flag is set
FSM - Entitlement record covers the given date
Student gets a free meal
SIMS priimary has implemented transitional protection in a different way, it adds a flag to FSM records to indicate that this period of elligibility is as a result of UC TP or not. The existing v1 and v2 APIs do not have this field available at present and we are planning to surface this data in the next release of APIS planned for Q4 2019. There is however good news for partners in the sense that the decision of whether to charge a pupil for a meal is unchanged (as per England in SIMS 7). The small negative is that at present, you can't tell via the APIs if the reason is UC TP or not. TIs will need to decide whether their systems need the extra data field once the new API is available and would need appropriate justification because it is Special Category data.