At The Downs School there is an exciting range of hot and cold food available at both morning break and lunchtime. The Diner and  Café 6 provide pleasant places for students to relax and enjoy their food. We work closely with members of the School Council to listen to student views about healthy eating.

The Catering Team has a high standard of hygiene in all our food preparation and have been awarded the Environmental Health Department rating of the maximum 5 stars.

Allergens information is available from the catering team. 

If you wish to contact the catering manager, Mrs Barefoot, please do so via the Contact email address

We use a cashless catering system, and the benefits of this are:

  • increased speed of service at break and lunch times, reducing queuing times
  • parents and carers can see what their children have purchased each day by looking at Schoolgateway.
  • anonymity for students receiving Free School Meals
  • facility for parents to pay on-line
  • no need to carry cash preventing loss/theft
  • automatic alerts to stop students purchasing allergy trigger items.

Cashless catering system

The cashless catering system  provides us with a more efficient, faster and better quality of service. This system incorporates the latest technology and eliminates the need for students to carry cash.  It is also biometric (see FAQ’s attached) - the system recognises the thumb of your child at the tills no cash is accepted at the tills.

Any amount of money can be paid into a student’s account, and any money spent on food & drink will be deducted on a daily basis.  We have two payment options available to you – online payments via Schoolgateway, or payment by cheque/cash to the school office.

Using Schoolgateway obviously reduces administration costs in school, so I would encourage all parents to use that system. Contact Mrs Martin in the Finance Office via if you need assistance.

A daily ‘spend limit’ of £6.00 will be programmed into the system.  This can be increased or decreased for an individual student by parents making a written request to Mrs Martin in the School Finance Office.

To comply with legislation we operate an ‘Opt In’ policy and therefore ask you to complete a permission form. If you choose not to have your child registered on the Biometric System a 4 digit PIN Code will be allocated.  Please note that PIN Codes do not have the same level of security and it will be your child’s responsibility to remember the code and keep it secure at all times.

Free School Meals

Free School Meals are provided to children whose parents/guardians are in receipt of

  • Universal Credit (provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £17400, as assessed by earnings from up to 3 of your most recent assessment periods)
  • Income Support
  • Income Based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income related Employment Support Allowance support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (from the National Asylum Support Service)
  • the guarantee element of State Pension
  • Credit Child Tax Credit, provided you're not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income of no more than £16,190
  • Working tax credit run on-paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

You can apply for free school meals through the West Berkshire Council website. you are successful the school is informed automatically.

How much can a students spend if they have Free School Meals?

Students can spend up to £3.00 per day on food.  Drinks cannot be purchased with this money.

If students go on a school day trip they should pre-order a packed lunch. On days when Christmas lunch is served and the usual services are not available to students, they are to collect their food at break.

If you have any questions please contact the school.


Page Downloads Date  
Allergens List 25th Jan 2021 Download
Cashless catering Q&A 09th Sep 2021 Download
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