Free school meal eligibility

Changes in the numbers of pupils eligible for free school meals during 2020 (Jan to Oct)

The Department for Education (DfE) publish annual data on free school meal eligibility based on responses to the school census in January of each year. As the most recent annual statistics were for a date prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DfE has published data on the number of pupils eligible for free school meals on the autumn school census day (1 October 2020).

According to these statistics, in the North East LEP area in October 2020:

  • There were about 72,800 pupils eligible for free school meals, about 7,100 more than at the start of the year
  • this represented 25.7% of all pupils, a much higher percentage than in England as a whole (19.7%)
  • the eligibility rate had increased by 2.7 percentage points since January a larger increase than nationally (2.4)
  • the highest rate was Newcastle (35.0%), with a 3.2 percentage point increase since January that was the highest in the North East
  • both Gateshead and Sunderland experienced 3.0 percentage point increases in their rates between January and October
  • the primary school eligibility rate was 27.1%, higher than England's 20.2% and 2.8 percentages points above January's rate
  • the secondary school eligibility rate was 23.0% (England 18.2%), which was 2.6 percentage points higher than in January.

At a regional level, the North East (including the North East and Tees Valley LEP areas) had the highest free school eligibility rate of the nine English regions in October (26.3%). The North East region had experienced the second largest percentage point increase in this rate between January and October (2.8).

Free school meal eligibility, 2015/16 onwards, North East LEP area

Last updated:
07/05/2021
Published by:
North East LEP

Source: DfE free school meals (published 30 Mar 2021)

Data information: Data on free school meal eligibility collected in the January and October school censuses. North East LEP area geography.


Free school meal eligibility rates, North East local authority areas

Last updated:
07/05/2021
Published by:
North East LEP

Source: DfE free school meals (published 30 Mar 2021)

Data information: Data on free school meal eligibility collected in the January and October school censuses. North East LEP area geography and local authority areas within it.


Free school meal eligibility rates, by school type, North East LEP area and England

Last updated:
07/05/2021
Published by:
North East LEP

Source: DfE free school meals (published 30 Mar 2021)

Data information: Data on free school meal eligibility collected in the January and October school censuses. North East LEP area geography.


Free school meal eligibility rates, English regions

Last updated:
07/05/2021
Published by:
North East LEP

Source: DfE free school meals (published 30 Mar 2021)

Data information: Data on free school meal eligibility collected in the January and October school censuses. Regional geography where the North East region is made up of the North East and Tees Valley LEP areas.