Research and analysis

Evaluation of the free school meals pilot: impact report

Report presenting evidence on the effect of the free school meals pilot on a range of pupil outcomes.


These evaluation reports analyse the effect, delivery and value for money of a 2-year pilot that tested different approaches to extending access to free school meals (FSM). In Newham and Durham FSM were offered to all primary school pupils and in Wolverhampton FSM entitlement criteria were extended in all primary and secondary schools.

The evaluation compared the outcomes of pupils in these areas with those of similar pupils in similar areas to quantify the impact of extending entitlement to FSM on the take-up of school meals, attainment and absence from school, and pupils’ diet, health and behaviour. Qualitative case studies were also used to explore how the pilot was set up and delivered, and to document the experiences and views of teachers, pupils and parents/carers.