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Free School Meal Advisory (SIMS 7)


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).

Transitional entilement for FSM under UC
Wales Only

Wales Only

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:

  • Blank
  • 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.


Technical Addendum

TIs 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.
Universal Credit FSM Transitional Protection
SIMS 7 reporting engine - Universal Credit FSM Transitional Protection

Indepenance 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

Scenario #1




Scenario #2




Scenario #3




Scenario #4