COVID Response: Sharing Free School Meals Data

Using data to identify and support vulnerable residents during Covid

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Status: Completed


At the start of the COVID pandemic, London boroughs had a huge task at hand: to identify and support residents most in need. Data was a key enabler of this. Boroughs needed the right data to understand which of their residents were vulnerable and would become vulnerable as the pandemic went on.

A key indicator of vulnerability is that a child receives free school meals (FSM). One challenge with using this indicator is that if a child attends a school outside their borough of residence, their home council may not know they receive free school meals. 

LOTI solution

Responding to this need, LOTI worked with the Information Governance Group for London to create and endorse an information-sharing agreement that would enable boroughs to share detailed information about children in receipt of FSM who attend school in their borough.

Working with the GLA London Datastore team, we created a spreadsheet showing how many children from each London borough attend school in other boroughs.

Coming Next:

  • Case study for sharing FSM data via the London Datastore


Project Timeline


Sharing lessons learned

Sharing sensitive data at scale wasn’t easy, in this blog we shared key insights from our data collaboration experience.



Creating an aggregate data set

With support from GLA’s Marta Lapsley, we were able to create a single view of all children in London, who receive free school meals and attend school outside of their borough of residence.


Creating a pan-London information-sharing agreement

With support from the Information Governance Group for London, we created a pan-London data sharing agreement enabling London boroughs to share detailed information about children receiving free school meals and who attend school outside of their borough of residence.

May 29, 2020

Project Kick-off

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