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SIMS 7 - Wales Universal Primary Free School Meals (Urgent)

Updated 08:30 13/9/22 [Final] 22/9 - Added newsfeed.

On 5th September 2022 ESS released a workstation patch to support Welsh Schools with Universal Primary Free School Meals. This included:

  • Screens to enable management of UPFSM
  • Extensions to the reporting dictionary to assist schools
  • Third party APIs to enable access to the new UPFSM raw data.

TI's requiring download access to this update should contact partner support.  Please note that TIs would need Welsh Training Data to enable the functionality which historically has not been a regular choice for TIs (ENGWE is an English derivative and would not show the features).

Whilst this is not 'technically' a breaking change, it is a potentially a statutory change for some TIs and we have expedited access to SDKs in order to assist.  Interim support has now been withdrawn because the 'real thing' is available.




NC Year entitlement

Entitlement to UPFSM will be switched on by schools as and when required,  Once an NC year is enabled, it will be permanent.

If a pupil moves from one NC year to another, their entitlement may be impacted/

Pupil Level Exceptions

A facility has been provided to enable pupils to be opted out for one or more periods of time.  There is an associated lookup to define reasons for the exception.  it is anticipated that the number of exceptions will be small.

Pupil Level Entitlement (Except Nursery)

A pupil is entitled to UPFSM on a given day if they are:

  • In an NC Year which is entitled AND
  • Are not entitled to eFSM (Normal FSM) AND
  • Are not entitled to Universal Credit Transitional Protection and
  • Do not have a pupil level exception for the day concerned.

Pupil Level Entitlement (Nursery)

  • The pupil must meet all of the criteria above for non-nursey pupils AND on the day concerned:
    • Have an attendance mark of Present or Late (either before or after the register closes) for the AM session AND
    • Have an attendance mark of Present or Late (either before or after the register closes) for the PM session


What has been implemented deals with entitlement and does not necessarily deal with the physical world.  Some pupils, regardless of entitlement, will still bring packed lunches.  TIs implementing UPFSM may need to drill deeper with the Welsh Government if say they wanted to calculate or predict the actual sum of money received by the school under UPFSM.  Further, whilst the Welsh Government has indicated their requirement for parents to continue to apply for eFSM, it is less clear in practice to what extent parents with efSM entitlement will choose not to follow this process if their child already receives a free meal.  

Help for TIs?

We recommend that all TIs should assess whether this impacts them.  .

Test Data

Welsh Primary Test Data is available to TI's through normal channels and TI packages with training data may opt for Welsh Primary as one of their existing sets or may choose to add an additional data set if appropriate. 


See: Universal Primary Free School Meals (Wales) Release Pack | ESS Portal (sims-partners.com) for example calls and sample code.

Reports in SIMS

New schema for reporting

I have been asked and confirmed that we plan to extend the reporting dictionary to include Eligibility and exceptions.  Whilst we have a clear definition for entitlement, the entitlement for nursery pupils can only be calculated once the PM attendance mark is known.  We propose to return an eligible = true for Nursery pupils if they are present or have yet to have a mark recorded and await confirmation from WG as to their acceptance or otherwise of this proposal. 

Reports would calculate eligibility on the effective date. We would not recommend running the report for multiple dates to obtain a historical entitlement.

Recommended implementation

We recommend that TIs use the new APIs provided to obtain a relatively small amount of information which enables the calculation of UPFSM eligibility, clearly all TIs interested in UPFSM will also need to extract the curriculum year for pupils.

TIs should expect to get errors returned if they try to access UPFSM extensions on older copies of SIMS.

The reports dictionary is updated in the workstation patch.