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Eight education subsidies and schemes that you could qualify for

Many families will be worried about the rising cost of living, especially while preparing for the new school term. There is support available for learners and their families in Wales who may be struggling to afford school costs such as uniform and transport, as well as some free schemes to help your child with their learning.

Here are eight education subsidies and schemes that you could qualify for.

Support with school day costs

Learners who are currently eligible for free school meals can apply for a grant towards school uniform, school trips, and kit. The grant this year is for £225 per learner, or £300 for those going into year 7 to recognise the increased costs associated with starting secondary school. For this year only, the grants are an extra £100.

All looked after children qualify for the grant, whether they receive free school meals or not.

The 2022 to 2023 scheme is now open, and all school years from reception to year 11 are now eligible for the grant.  Parents and guardians should contact their local authority to check their eligibility and apply.

Education Maintenance Allowance

16 to 18-year-olds who want to continue in education could be eligible for Education Maintenance Allowance. This is a weekly payment of £30 to help with the costs of further education such as transport or meals.

Payments are made every fortnight, as long as you meet your school or college’s attendance, performance and behaviour requirements, and can be for academic or vocational courses.

Student Finance Wales has more information on the EMA and how to apply.

Help with transport costs

If you are studying further education either at your local school or college, you may be able to get help with transport costs.

Those who may be eligible include:

  • over 16s studying at your local school and travelling over a set distance to get there
  • 16- to 19-year-olds who are studying full-time at a further education college
  • 19 or overs, or those studying part-time

Your local authority or college will have more information and guidance on how to apply for support.

Free School Meals

Free school meals are available to eligible pupils who attend school full-time. This includes full time school-based nursery pupils, right through to school-based sixth form pupils.

Your child may be able to get free school meals if you receive certain benefits such as Universal Credit, Income Support, Child Tax Credit or Jobseeker’s Allowance.

You need to apply for free school meals, so it’s important to check if you might be eligible. You can do this on your local authority’s website.

Applications are made through your local authority, and most will have an easy, online application process.  You can contact your school for more information.

From September, Free School Meals will start to be rolled out for all Reception pupils. As part of the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru, all primary school pupils will receive a free school meal by 2024.

Your child may be entitled to receive a free breakfast in primary school, if the school they go to is maintained by the local authority and if it provides free breakfasts. You need to ask the school for free breakfasts for your child to receive them.

Free books

As part of the Schools Love Reading scheme, every pupil in Wales who is aged 3-16 and in state school will receive a book of their own to keep.

Primary schools will be given a selection of carefully selected books to distribute to pupils, while secondary school pupils will receive a book token to exchange for a book of their choice.

The scheme is run by the Books Council of Wales and supported by the Welsh Government, with more information available from your local school.

Free Welsh lessons

From September, a new e-learning resource will be piloted for 16 to 18-year-olds who attend school, college or an apprenticeship scheme, to improve their oral Welsh skills.

It’s part of the plans in the Welsh Government’s Co-Operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru to give 16-25 year olds, as well as all teaching staff, access to free Welsh lessons with the National Centre for Learning Welsh.

The resource will be provided by Say Something in Welsh and the National Centre for Learning Welsh, and will complement a wider package of training for 16 to 18 year olds, whether they are in education or not.

Those who will be eligible to access the resource can get more information from their school, college, or apprenticeship scheme provider.

Free Office 365 licences

Hwb is a website with lots of free apps and software which help pupils learn.  All teachers and learners have a Hwb account which gives them access to educational resources and digital tools.

One of the features of Hwb accounts is an automatic, free Microsoft Office 365 licence, allowing pupils to access and install the latest Microsoft Office tools including Word, Excel and PowerPoint as well as Minecraft: Education Edition.

The licence can be used for free across up to 15 home devices including tablets and smartphones as well as desktop computers and laptops.

Financial Contingency Fund

The Financial Contingency Fund supports eligible learners in further education institutions or the Open University, who are facing financial difficulties or whose access to further education might be limited by financial considerations. Each institution will determine the eligibility of learners and the support they can provide.

This support can include:

– A grant or a loan
– Tuition fees and course-related costs including, but not limited to:

  • awarding body examination and registration fees
  • equipment or materials essential for the learner to participate in the course
  • childcare costs
  • travel costs
  • books
  • costs relating to attending field trips
  • costs arising from disabilities

Those who would like to apply for support can get more information from their college, or the Open University.