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.

Young people's learning agency

Discretionary Learner Support

Discretionary Learner Support (DLS) is available to provide support to learners aged 16-18 in school sixth forms and sixth form colleges who are resident in Tower Hamlets and are experiencing financial difficulty with meeting the costs associated with learning.

In addition, there is a 16-18 Residential Bursary Support, which supports learners attending specialist provision at agricultural/horticultural colleges and colleges of art and design that requires a residential element.  This funding is divided amongst 47 providers who will consider the applications for support themselves.

Applicants must have been resident in the UK for the 3 years before the start of the academic year preceding the course to be eligible and must not have been in full-time education during any part of that period.  Other groups of applicants as defined in the Education (Fees and Awards) (England) regulations 2007 may also be eligible for support.

Learners should ensure that they have applied for other forms of financial support before applying for DLS which, in many cases, will be Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

16-18 hardship support can be used for:

  • course-related costs such as course trips, books and equipment
  • temporary support with domestic emergencies
  • transport costs on a temporary basis
  • short-term emergency accommodation whilst waiting for benefit support
  • costs for exam resits

Funding may not be used:

  • for fees
  • to replace support and benefit arrangements already provided through national policy
  • to provide support with childcare costs for 16-18 learners; such learners should visit the direct.gov web site

The fund is cash limited and applications may have to be refused where there is insufficient money left to meet a request for assistance.

Applications can be obtained from the Student Finance Section or downloaded. Applications are normally considered within three weeks of receipt. Following receipt of an application form, an applicant can expect an offer of a grant, a request for more information, or a refusal of support with reasons and the right of appeal.

Cheques are sent to the school of successful applicants for the applicants to collect.

Forms can be requested by phone or downloaded and posted to:

Student Finance Section

Tower Hamlets Town Hall
160 Whitechapel Road
E1 1BJ

Tel:  020 7364 5000
Fax:  020 7364 4311

The Student Finance Section is open to personal callers from 9am to 1pm on any working day. Telephones are answered from 8.30am to 5pm.