Extending free school meal provisions

From September 2023, the council is extending universal free school meals provision to include children who live in the borough and attend secondary school (up to the age of 16).

+ If you are already in receipt of free meals from your school, there is nothing further you need to do.
+ If you are not in receipt of benefits and have an annual net earned income of more than £7,400, there is nothing further you need to do.
+ If you are receiving benefits but not currently receiving free school meals, it is important that you fill in your child’s registration form.

THCW Further Education Trust assessment and eligibility rules

Assessment and Eligibility Rules 2023/24

You should read this section in conjunction with both the application's webpage and the form.

Section 1

Definition and Calculations

1.0 (i) Student household: meaning the student, the student s parents, siblings, children and the spouse/partner of each of them, sharing the same household.

(ii) Total Household Income: meaning the income from all sources, earned and unearned, of student/partner and student’s parents if they are part of the household, after deduction of tax, and minus rent/mortgage.

1.1 Any application not accompanied by sufficient documentary evidence, to enable an assessment of the Total Household Income, will be considered for an award limited to fees only.

1.2 Consideration will not be given to documentary evidence supplied after the Trustees have reached a decision on a student’s application.

1.3 Except in the most exceptional circumstances, and then only at the discretion of the Trustees, the Trustees will not re-assess an award to take into account changes in a student s circumstances during the academic year to which the award relates.

Section 2


2.1 Applicants must be resident within the boundaries of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on the closing date for the receipt of applications. They must have a permanent right to remain in the United Kingdom or have been granted either Indefinite or Exceptional Leave to remain, Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave to remain in the United Kingdom or have Refugee Status.

2.2 Applicants must have been resident in Tower Hamlets for the three years up to the closing date (Friday 28 July 2023) for the receipt of applications.

However, any period during these three years, during which an applicant has been so resident wholly or mainly for the purpose of receiving full-time education, shall not count in the qualifying period and the applicant will not be eligible for consideration.

2.3 An exception may be made to the three year requirement in 2.1 for people who have been granted full refugee status by the Home Office and for young people under 18 on 30th June 2022 coming to live with their parents in Tower Hamlets, provided in the latter case their parents with whom they reside have been resident in Tower Hamlets for three years.

Section 3


3.1 Grants will be considered for the following courses:

I. Further education: meaning education given other than in a primary or secondary school and also education at A-level standard, but excluding higher education and post-graduate education.

II. Higher education: meaning education where the qualification to be obtained is above A-level standard but excluding postgraduate education;

III. Postgraduate education: meaning education at postgraduate level where the course of education confers a nationally recognized vocational qualification or is likely in the opinion of the Trustees materially to enhance or improve the applicant s employment qualifications.

3.2 Further education courses

Support will be refused where an applicant is eligible to apply for a Council's Education Award (i.e. has a family income of less than £20,817 per year) and/or a Tower Hamlets Council FE Travel Grant.

3.3 Higher education courses

(i) Any student taking a course which normally attracts financial support from central government under the student finance regulations will not receive funding for maintenance from the Trust, unless he or she has one or more dependents under the age of 18 or for fees.

3.4 Part-time courses and distance learning

Grants will be considered for part-time courses only where the course is offered by public sector colleges and universities, the Open University, the Open College of the Arts, and any other educational institute of repute approved by the trustees in their discretion.

For the purposes of these rules, a part-time course is one which requires the student to undertake not more than 12 guided learning hours of tuition per week.

3.5 Private college courses

Applications will be considered for full-time courses at private colleges in the UK and only where the course does not exceed three years and will result in the granting of a nationally recognised vocational qualification or is likely in the opinion of the Trustees materially to enhance or improve the applicant s employment qualifications.

The Trustees also reserve the right to refuse an application if they consider the tuition fees to be unreasonably high in relation to the qualification achieved. Further guidance is available on request from the trust administrator.

3.6. Apprenticeships Applications will be given for costs and maintenance for applicants undertaking apprenticeships leading to a bone-fide professional qualification. Funding will also be considered in respect of the cost of any equipment required in respect of the apprenticeship

3.7. Religious studies

Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of rules '2' and '3', applications for courses devoted exclusively or predominantly to the study of religion, regardless of which religion, will not normally be supported.

3.8 General requirements – Subsequent years

Any grant made on this application will be only in respect of the academic year 2023/24. Support for any subsequent year of any course will be dependent upon a successful application being made at the appropriate time.

Where an application relates to the second or subsequent year of a course, any grant that may be made will be dependent upon the student having successfully completed the previous year of study.

Awards for repeat study years will be given only in exceptional cases. An award of a grant is terminated at the end of the academic year for which it is offered. The award will not be reinstated even though subsequent information is received pertinent to the reason for non-take up. Support is for one year only and is no guarantee that an award will be given in any subsequent year.

Section 4

Levels of support

4.0 (i) The Trust cannot meet all of a student s needs and will only be able to contribute towards the cost of education in most cases. Students should therefore expect to meet at least part of their costs. Support can only be offered for fees and maintenance.

(ii) The Trustees will take into account any grants from other sources either received or to be received, whether before or after an offer of maintenance has been made by the Trust, and reserves the right to reassess the amount of award where appropriate or even reclaim sums already paid.

(iii) All maintenance grants will be subject to means testing taking into account Total Household Income assessed in accordance with these Rules and subject thereto all grants will be in the discretion of the Trustees.

The maximum annual levels of support will be as laid down in paragraphs 4.3 to 4.8 inclusive, as the same may be amended from time to time by the Trustees in their discretion, but subject to paragraph 3.3 (ii) above. 4.1

Not withstanding anything to the contrary in these rules, applicants in receipt of any DWP benefits will not be awarded, in respect of maintenance, a sum greater than the amount above that which is likely to reduce or eliminate the level of DWP support already in place.

4.2 Consideration will not be given to applications received after the announced closing date, unless the Trustees in their discretion decide otherwise for exceptional reasons.

4.3 Support for residential fees will be considered up to £4,500 where such a student aged 16 to 18 years of age is taking an agricultural of horticultural course outside the boundary of the Greater London area.

4.4 Students aged 19 years of age and above at the start of the further education course will be considered for: either (i) maintenance up to £ 2100 and tuition fees up to £1050, provided the total shall not exceed £2,900 or (ii) residential fees of up to £4,500 for agricultural and horticultural courses outside the Greater London area.

4.5 Higher education courses Maintenance up to £2,100 and tuition fees up to £2,900 provided the total shall not exceed £4000

4.6 Part-time courses - (below postgraduate level) Tuition fees up to £2,400 and no maintenance.

4.7 Postgraduate courses

(i) Maintenance up to £2,400 and tuition fees up to £4,500 for a full time course lasting from one to three academic year, provided the total shall not exceed £4,500 per year.

(ii) Maintenance up to £1050 and tuition fees up to £2,400 for a full time course lasting less than one academic year in length.

(iii) Tuition fees of up to £2,400 per year for a part time course with a maximum fee grant for the course of up to £6,600.

Section 5


5.1 The funds available for the making of grants in any one-year (as determined by the Trustees in their absolute discretion) will be allocated in the following order of priority:

i. Continuing students - (students who are moving to the 2023/24 academic year of their course having received support from the Trust for the same course at the same college in 2022/23 but subject to any qualification already imposed on the making of current grant);

ii. Full-time further and higher education courses for new applicants

iii. Part-time courses (below post-graduate level); iv. Postgraduate courses (part-time or full -time) for new applicants, (continuing students considered under 5.1[i]) 5.2 Where in the opinion of the Trustees funds are not available to meet all applications of a given priority, which would otherwise have been successful, the funds shall be allocated at the discretion of the Trustees.

Section 6

Decisions and Appeals

6.1 Decisions made by the Trustees will be final and binding. Students wishing to appeal against a decision refusing them support, or against the amount of support offered, may only do so by supplying additional information not previously provided to the Trustees.

The consideration of such additional information will be at the unfettered discretion of the Trustees.

6.2 In very exceptional cases, and when the Trustees consider that a case merits such support, the Trustees retain the right to make an award to students who would not otherwise be entitled to or qualify for a grant under these rules.