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Free School Meals and Clothing Allowances

Orkney Islands Council provides assistance with free school meals and clothing allowances to families on a low income who meet the eligibility criteria. To be awarded this assistance, proof must be provided that you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit.

The current clothing allowance is £120.00 per eligible primary child and £150.00 per eligible secondary child. This is paid once per year, normally between August and 31 March, depending on when you submit your application.


You can apply for free school meals and clothing allowances if you are receiving:

If you are aged between 16 and 18 years old and receive any of these benefits in your own right, you can claim free school meals and a clothing allowance for yourself.

You may also be eligible for assistance if you are caring for a formally ‘Looked After Child’ (LAC).

Please note that the above criteria may be subject to change.


Children in nursery (aged two years and up) will be automatically entitled to a free school meal where they attend their setting over the middle of the day. Clothing allowances are not payable for nursery children.

Primary 1 to 5

All children in Primary 1 to 5 are automatically entitled to a free school meal (known as universal entitlement). However, you will need to complete an application to apply for the clothing allowance.

Primary 6 and 7

If you are in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits listed above, you should complete an application form to apply for free school meals and clothing allowances.

16 – 18 Year Olds

Pupils aged 16-18 and still at school may apply for assistance in their own right if they are in receipt of any of the qualifying benefits listed above.

Please note: young people who are beyond statutory school leaving age will not be awarded a clothing allowance until after the summer break, once we have received confirmation from the school that they have returned for further study.

Application Forms

If you meet the eligibility criteria, you should complete an application. This can now be completed online by clicking on the following link:

Apply for Free School Meals and Clothing Allowances

One application is suitable for all the children in your family, even if they are attending different schools within Orkney. A fresh application must be submitted each academic year.

If you are unable to apply online then please contact us for a paper copy of the application form.

Did you know?

By applying for free school meals not only will your child be receiving nutritional benefits but you will also be supporting their school. For every pupil that registers for free school meals, their school will receive funding through the Pupil Equity Fund (PEF). This funding can be used to support a wide range of initiatives and can help those who experience barriers to learning. We strongly encourage all parents who are eligible for free school meals to apply for them.

Application Deadlines

Applications for free school meals can be submitted at any point throughout the school year. However, these will not be backdated and will only be paid from the date that your application is received by the Education Grants team.

Please bear in mind that during June to September we receive a large number of applications and it may take up to 4 weeks to process your application. You should contact us if you have not received your notification letter after this time.

Once we have processed your complete application form (including all relevant evidence) we will notify the school of your child’s entitlement to free school meals.

Contact Us

If you have any queries, or would like assistance completing your application form, please contact the team at:

Free School Meals and Clothing Allowances, Education, Leisure and Housing, Orkney Islands Council, School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY.

Telephone: 01856873535 extension 2416.

Email: Education Grants.

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

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