Primary & secondary school
We all take our children’s education seriously, but what sets the experience of a Service child aside from their civilian friends?
Another posting equals another new school. Service children can attend upwards of five different schools up to the age of eighteen, and children also have to cope with leaving friends behind and making new ones with each move.
However, Service children are often more adaptable, independent and flexible than their civilian friends, having grown used to change and the broader view of the world that this has given them.
Free School Meals for Infant classes overseas
Support for Armed forces children moving to Scotland
Attainment research 2015
Moving school packs
The Pupil Information Profile (PIP)
I have a child studying for public exams - can I stay in my SFA?
Early Mover Status
Differences between education systems
Education comparison table
Service Children in State Schools (SCISS)
Need a school overseas?
Consider becoming a Parent Governor
Support for Armed Forces children moving to Wales
In September 2014, the Government announced that state funded schools in England (including academies and free schools) would offer a free lunch to every primary school pupil in Reception class, Year 1 and Year 2. MOD regulations on this have been published and if you are living overseas and have a child in these or equivalent years, then your child is now eligible for free school meals. Read more
Under the authority of the Secretary of State for Defence, MOD Schools provides an educational service, which as far as possible, conforms to that required by the Education Acts in England; as well as taking into account developments in the education systems of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Outlined below are the arrangements for MOD Schools and non-MOD Schools.
MOD Schools that already schedule a formal lunch break will provide a lunchtime meal to all children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. This regulation started in September 14.
MOD Schools will comply with the schools food standards that govern all food and drink on offer within the school. Reasonable adjustments will be made for pupils with special dietary requirements.
Since the infant free school meals was introduced in Scotland, the MOD took the decision to allow all overseas personnel to be entitled to infant free school meals from April 15.v In non-MOD Schools overseas, pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 or their national equivalent are entitled to a free school meal. In some locations, due to local conditions/restrictions, the school may not be able to provide meals. The following is a direct quote from the rules that should cover most circumstances:
- Where a meal is provided by the school and the costs are borne by the parent, a refund of actuals is admissible.
- Where a meal is provided by the school and the costs are not borne by the parent, no refund is admissible.
- Where a meal cannot be provided by the school, and the cost of providing a meal for the child is borne by the parent, a refund is admissible.
- Where the school provides a meal but the parent declines a school meal on their child’s behalf, no refund is admissible. Unless the school meal does not cater for the child’s specific dietary needs such as vegetarian, Halal, Kosher. (A child simply preferring to take a packed lunch as they do not like the school meal does not qualify as a specific dietary reason and a refund is not admissible.)
- Where the meal forms part of the school fees, which the parent has already been remunerated for, no refund is admissible.
- Claims can be made in arrears up to 1 April 15.
Currently, only schools in Naples are not in a position to provide school meals. Until they can, specific arrangements for the refund of packed lunches have been made and parents can get this information via the school.
How to claim
Please contact CEAS in the first instance on +44 (0)1982 61 8244 or at DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@mod.uk
You will need to submit an authorisation form to CEAS and once you have this authorisation, you can use the claim form to claim back the costs from your local administration unit.
There are published rates in the regulations for a selection of overseas locations, and CEAS will advise further if your location is not on this list.
Are you living in Scotland, or about to move there, and worried about the differences in curriculum or how to find a school? Read more
Parentzone Scotland is a unique website for parents and carers in Scotland, from early years to beyond school.
The website provides the most up to date information about learning in Scotland as well as practical advice and ideas to support your children’s learning including: choosing a school, leaving school, additional support needs, getting involved in your child’s education and information about schools in your local area including performance data.
Simply visit the Parentzone Scotland website here.
For more information, please contact Education Scotland here.Back to top
AFF commissioned research with York St John’s University, to look at the attainment of Army children in comparison to their civilian peers. The research investigated pupils in Year 6 and 10/11 and also included interviews with teachers and parents. Read more
- Year 10/11 Army pupils performed slightly lower in English
- 52% of Year 6 pupils, and a third of Year 10/11 pupils, reported repeating parts of the curriculum
- A higher proportion of Year 10/11 Army pupils reported that they have no-one to talk to if they are worried about something
- Over 40% of parents reported that they found it difficult to discuss their child’s achievement levels at previous schools
- Majority of parents felt their child required additional support while the serving parent is deployed • 60% of teachers reported having sufficient support to effectively teach Army pupils.
However, teachers highlighted the need for time and information sharing to ensure they understand an Army pupil’s previous educational experience.
To read the full report from York St John University, click here.Back to top
According to the Gov.UK website, there are two reasons that children can miss school:
1. If they are ill
2. If you have advance permission from the school
Army families tell us that they have been fined for taking their children out of school in term time for the purposes of reuniting the family. AFF has responded to your comments and issues and has created a printable letter for you to attach to your absence request. Read more
Whilst understanding that the head teacher must make the decision on this, we strongly believe their decision should be fully informed.
If your soldier has R&R or POTL coming up then apply in advance for the head teacher to consider the circumstances i.e. that leave isn’t flexible and cannot necessarily be taken in the normal school holidays.
Several things will be taken into consideration, including the number of days your child has missed so far that year and exams or tests.
Authorising absence is the school’s decision, not a parental right. Local Authorities (LAs) can issue penalty notices and fines; look on your LA website for more details.
Does your school understand what R&R and POTL are? Does your school need help in understanding Army family life?
Click here for an AFF letter to print off and attach to your leave request, which explains some of the complexities of living with a solider.
The MOD has also produced a letter for head teachers, regarding authorised absence, that you may like to take into school. Please click here to download a printable version.
AFF feels strongly that parents should be able to request time off for R&R and POTL. If you’ve been refused authorised absence for this type of leave, email email@example.comBack to top
With an increasing demand on school places, you may find that your children’s school place may not be in the nearest school; transport may be an issue.
Here is an outline of the basics regarding free school transport entitlement from the Department for Education (DfE) that covers England and Wales. Scotland’s regulations are similar, and in Northern Ireland (NI), the ages are divided at the end of primary school. Read more
The general walking distance measurement is two miles for children aged under eight, and three miles for children aged eight and over (apart from NI).
This distance is not the shortest distance travelled by road but the shortest route along which a child, accompanied as necessary, may walk with reasonable safety and may include footpaths and bridleways; this could explain why you may have been quoted different distances by the Local Authority’s (LAs) admissions team for the purposes of catchment area, and the LA school transport team.
The regulations also make it very clear that children should be able to reach school able to benefit from the school day without strains or stresses from the journey and in reasonable safety and comfort.
If you chose the nearest school and you have been allocated a school further away, you may be eligible for free transport for your child.
Check your LA website for more details and if you have an issue with the LA’s decision, you should contact the LA school transport team and they will assess each case individually.
AFF believes that all school aged children should have easy access to school. We have heard from parents unhappy about their very young children travelling to school in a taxi on their own, and about the time it takes a child, particularly a young one, to walk over two miles.
AFF recognises that as parents, we have the responsibility to get our children to school. When moving to a new area, this should be one of the top considerations when applying for school places, however sometimes we may find that our children are given places in schools some distance away.
AFF has compiled some FAQs asked by Army families regarding access to school transport, both free and otherwise.
Our downloadable document outlines the regulations, as well as answering questions that are specific to Army families. Thank you to Surrey County Council who have helped us with this list.
To download a copy of the FAQs, click here.
AFF is actively working on these issues and highlighting them to relevant departments. To discuss this further, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The MOD has produced a pack that is available from your local HIVE, CEAS and also online at www.gov.uk/government/publications/moving-school-packsBack to top
The new PIP, specifically designed for Service children moving school, provides your child’s new teacher with immediate relevant online information about your child.
It is an MOD-created project that informs schools, merges different educational language and current systems and has guidance to assist teachers. AFF has been part of the consultation process from the beginning. Read more
Far-flung countries such as Kenya and America have been involved along with schools across the UK and MOD Schools; all have been very supportive.
You can help your child by letting your school know as early as possible when you are moving. Pop in and ask if they are aware of PIP.
AFF has been informed that all MOD Schools will be using the PIP where possible. For more information, click here.Back to top
Service parents who are due to move on assignment when their children are in their A Level years, or undertaking or preparing for GCSE or AS exams in local state schools, may be able to retain the Service Families Accommodation (SFA) which they currently occupy, to allow the child to complete their exams. Read more
If you have a child in school year 10 or 11, or year 12 or 13, then this may apply to you. Contact CEAS and request information on an educational impact statement. This can then be sent to DIO to support your application to retain your quarter.
You can contact them on 01980 618244 or DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@mod.ukBack to top
Early Mover Status (EMS) is for families who wish to move up to 12 months early for a unit move as part of rebasing. Read more
This could be for educational reasons, for example because you have a child in Year 9 and would like to start them in their new school for the beginning of Year 10 which requires moving several months before the unit.
It could also be for families who are joining a unit that is about to move again as part of rebasing, and this would be to avoid moving twice in quick succession.
If you would like to find out more about this, the information is in JSP 752 chapter 7 or you can speak to the MOD Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS).
It is very important that, if you claim CEA for any of your children, you remain within the eligibility rules for accompanied service, so check this out first before making any plans.Back to top
Education is devolved and England, NI, Scotland and Wales all have slightly different education systems, delivered in slightly different ways.
School years may be categorised differently and depending on when your child’s birthday is, you may find that they start at a different time.
There are also different public examinations. Read more
Moving from Scotland to England or from England to Northern Ireland? There is specific education information that you need to know.
It’s important to point out that some things are the same. All schools are inspected, all children have a legal right to a school place and children work towards a public examination at the end of school.
MOD Schools follow England.
If your child is born between 1 September and 29 February then in all areas of the UK and MOD Schools overseas, they will be in the same year.
In Scotland, from the 1 March until 31 August, your child will be in the year below their peers in England and Wales. In Northern Ireland, your child remains in the same school year until 30 June, and children with birthdays from 1st July until 31st August will go into the year below England and Wales.
In Scotland, Children usually return to school in the third week of August. Northern Ireland, England and Wales all generally start in September.
In Scotland and NI, children break up at the end of the year in June whereas those in the other two areas of the UK stay on until the third week of July.
England, Wales and NI have GCSEs at the end of Year 11 (16 years), AS levels in Year 12 (17 years) and A Levels in Year 13 (18 years).
Scotland has Standard Grades, Highers and Advanced Highers.
The Welsh Baccalaureate combines personal development skills with existing qualifications like A Levels, NVQs and GCSEs to make one wider award.
How long in school
In England it is now compulsory for young people to stay in some form of education or training until at least their 18th birthday.
In Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, children can leave school at the end of Year 11, as young as 15 depending on when their birthday falls.
There is opportunity for Further Education, training or an apprenticeship post 16 UK wide.
- The Service Pupil Premium is available in England and Northern Ireland. It is for different amounts and the funding source is different but it is for the same purpose.
- In North Wales, it’s possible to apply for funding from the MOD for independent day school fees in order that your children can have lessons in English. This is unique to this area of the UK.
- The MOD £6M Education Support Fund is UK wide.
- University courses vary all over the UK, but in certain circumstances, it is possible to apply for free Scottish University places. All other areas have fees to pay.
Types and authorities
There are no Grammar schools in Scotland or Wales.
The Admissions Authorities are called Education and Library Boards in Northern Ireland.
England: MOD Schools and schools in England are inspected by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (OFSTED)
Northern Ireland: All schools in Northern Ireland are inspected and visited regularly by Inspectors from the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI)
Wales: Estyn is the office of Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales. They are independent of, but funded by, the National Assembly for Wales
Scotland: Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMEI) inspects schools in Scotland
If you’ve been affected by this, and you would like to share your experience, please email email@example.com. We are actively monitoring families’ experiences, and will highlight the issues at relevant meetings and conferences.Back to top
Click here for a table showing comparative school years for children within the different state education systems of the Devolved Governments and also state boarding school.
Remember that often the curriculum is different as well as the number on the classroom door, and so it is not easy to compare like with like.Back to top
AFF is represented on the National Executive Committee of the Service Children in State Schools support network. This board is made up of representatives of head teachers, MOD, family feds and local authorities.
We discuss the best ways to support Service children in schools and host conferences around the country to share knowledge and information that will help schools achieve this. Read more
They have a handbook, which is available here.
Is your school a member of SCISS? Why not pop in and find out.Back to top
MOD Schools is part of the MOD Directorate of Children and Young People (DCYP).
MOD Schools have schools around the world and after draw down in Germany, there will be 13 remaining schools.
They follow the English curriculum where possible; however, they are not in all overseas posting areas. Read more
In Isolated Detachments (ISODETS) and Extra Command Areas where there are no MOD Schools, parents should be aware that the type and standard of children’s education in those locations may vary between countries, and sometimes between different parts the same country.
Service parents accompanied by their child when posted to such areas may decide to enrol them into local state schools (where children are taught in English), into a state school where the native language is spoken and where a child will be supported to learn that language, or at an international school.
Parents whose children are due to undertake important examinations such as GCSEs, when considering whether to remove their children from school to accompany them to a posting overseas, are advised to do so only if they have access to a UK curriculum so that their education will not be disrupted in the two years leading to those examinations.
Please contact the MOD Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) for more information. Telephone +44 (0) 1980 618244 or email: DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@mod.uk
AFF believes that the practice of asking the current person in the job to advise on schooling is not suitable and is inadequate for many reasons including the most obvious in that they may not have children at all, or not ones the same age. AFF is working with the relevant departments on this. If you have any concerns about this, or would like to share your experience, please email firstname.lastname@example.orgBack to top
Have you just moved and found there to be no suitable school places? Is your child on a waiting list and you are reluctant to start them in a different school temporarily? Have you just moved somewhere for a short time, or are you about to move just after the start of school? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then the option of home schooling may be for you. Read more
Education is compulsory for children from 5 to 18 years old in England. School is one of the options.
Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 describes it as “efficient, full-time education suitable to the child’s age, ability, aptitude and any special educational need they may have either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.” This is the case in England and Wales. Northern Ireland and Scotland are slightly different.
Useful things to know:
- You don’t need to let anyone know or ask permission if your child has not been to school before, only if you are taking your child out of school or de-registering them, in which case you should inform the school and the council. If you’re removing them from a special school, or if they have a school attendance order, you must ask permission from the council. Most councils would prefer to be told if you move into their area and may want to make an informal enquiry on the education that your child receives.
- You do not have to keep to the same hours as schools and you do not have to follow the national curriculum.
- If your change your mind or your circumstances change, your local Authority will be willing to offer a school place.
- Home Education Consultants provided by the Local Authority, websites, blogs, books and local groups can all help.
Think about this in advance and think to the future. Do you want to do this forever or just for a short time either the length of posting or until a certain age? Will you be able to cope with the time and input that this will require? And finally, what about your child -what would they prefer?
The following links offer useful further information:
- Journal article on Home Education Summer 2013 (pg35)
- Home Education in Scotland
- Home Education in Wales
Are you interested in being involved in the policies, recruitment and budgets at your local school? Do you have a bit of time to spare to volunteer for this vital role? Lynda and Sarah are Parent Governors who agreed to be interviewed for our magazine Army&You. Read more
I started by asking them what made them decide to become a governor?
Lynda explains: “The main reason was that I have a big interest in my son’s school and how it’s run. I was no longer working as I am now at home with the children and it was something I had the time to do and thought I would enjoy it – I was right! Plus a lot of the children from the Army camp go there and so I thought it would be nice to have someone from here involved.”
Sarah agrees: “I wanted to be a helpful part of the community I live in, especially being a part of the Armed Forces and moving around. I think being a school governor helps improve the running of the school that in a small way that will benefit Forces families coming to the area in the future.”
How easy did you find the process? “I found the process very easy – I had to write saying a bit about myself and why I was interested in the position,” explains Lynda. It was the same for Sarah, she says: “A letter was sent asking for nominations and in the event of there being more than two applicants a vote was held by the school to elect the governors needed.”
There are school governor training courses that you can attend – some are one day courses available at the weekend. Sarah says: “I am often emailed about courses available, which I will take up as the more knowledge you have the better.”
As a governor you will be involved with budgets, targets, policies and recruiting. Posts vary in length from school to school. Some of you may think you will not stay long enough in one place. This may not be a problem as Sarah says: “The school has about sixty per cent of Service children and as such the head teacher embraces any input Service families parents can give.”
A final word from Lynda: “I really didn’t have a clue what I was applying for when I applied to become a parent governor – though I still really enjoy it! It’s not what I expected at all – it’s not about making changes to the school or making decisions; it’s more about ensuring the school is being run properly. My advice to families is if there is ever anything that you are unhappy about at your child’s school then never hesitate to ask for an appointment to see the class teacher or head. If you are still not happy after this, your next step could be to write to the governors.”
To find out more about becoming a parent governor, click here.Back to top
Moving to Wales? The official Supporting Service Children in Education in Wales - SSCE Cymru - Guidance for Schools and Parents’ has been created to help parents who are moving to wales, and schools working with Service children. Read more
The following is a quote from SSCE Cymru which explains the toolkit:
“The guidance seeks to highlight the simple things that can pose big challenges for these children such as missing a parent who is away in a dangerous part of the world, settling into yet another new school or missing parts of their learning because of different programmes of study in different countries.
“We have learnt a lot from the schools who are already working closely with their Armed Forces communities, and from parents who have highlighted issues they would like more information on. We hope these guides provide the first clear step to providing every school and armed forces parent the information they are looking for.”
AFF is working with SSCE Cymru to help raise its profile and reach in Wales.
To find out more, visit www.sscecymru.co.ukBack to top