Many Army families are still highly mobile; which can be very disruptive to a child’s education.
One of the ways that the MOD helps to overcome this disruption is by funding an allowance that is a contribution towards the cost of boarding school. This allows the family to move together but for the child to have a continuous education.
AFF believes in accompanied Service and whilst there are mobile families, we will continue to tell the MOD that this support is vital for the children and for their families.
Do you have at least one school aged child? Have you moved house a number of times recently and is changing school becoming a bit of an issue for your child? Are you considering boarding school to provide a stable education for them?
From the academic year of your child’s 8th birthday, there is an option for soldiers to consider applying for an allowance to help with boarding school fees. This allowance is called the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA).
Regulations state that if your soldier wants to claim this allowance, your family must:
Your initial considerations should include:
If you’re thinking of sending your child to boarding school and applying for the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA), budgeting and finances will likely be high up your agenda.
From termly school fees ranging from £4,000-£11,000 – of which you’ll usually need to find 10% – to uniform costs, sports and extra-curricular activities; you may think you’ve included every eventuality in your eye-watering final figure.
But there can be hidden costs, and your wallet will thank you for getting to grips with them from the start.
Do your research
The most important thing is ensuring the school you choose offers value for money.
Some schools state their fees and very little is added to the extras bill; others will charge for every piece of stationary. Some may offer discounts for siblings, Armed Forces discounts and bursaries.
Above all, we recommend researching what different schools offer before signing on that dotted line. Here are some items to consider when budgeting.
If boarding school is on your family’s horizon, you may be building up to that first day. However, some schools may ask you to sign up for several terms in advance.
If your child becomes unhappy, or your circumstances change significantly, you may be liable for the outstanding fees, even if you have permission from the MOD to withdraw your child.
Lightening the load
So, what can you do to ensure your budget doesn’t spiral out of control? Here’s our top tips for reigning in the extras…
Find out more
Want to know more about managing your Service child’s education? Visit our dedicated education pages, or contact our Education & Childcare Specialist on firstname.lastname@example.orgBack to top
The MOD Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) gives advice, information and support on all aspects of your child’s education, including boarding school.
Defence Business Service Pay and Allowances, Complaints & Casework Cell (DBS PACCC)
DBS PACCC based in Glasgow confirm that the eligibility certificate form has been completed correctly and that the Service person is eligible and authorised to claim CEA. They monitor and investigate CEA eligibility and calculate the rates of CEA.
The soldier should contact them via their unit to submit casework if necessary. To find out more information about who is who in the MOD, please click here.
To find out more about MOD education allowances, please click here.
If you’re considering boarding, then there are some things you should know before you start the process.
You will need to contact CEAS for the Boarding Schools Pack and have read the regulations in JSP 752.
CEAS holds the Accredited Schools Database (ASD), a list of schools for which CEA is admissible. To claim this allowance, the school you choose must be on this list.
This database now includes more detail about the schools, including latest inspection reports, boarding capacity, fees and discounts to Service families in receipt of CEA. Families can also use filters to identify suitable schools. The information provided is for guidance only and all Service personnel should verify the details with the school prior to accepting a boarding offer. You can request access to the database by emailing DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@mod.gov.uk
CEAS will provide you with information and a unique serial number to apply for an eligibility certificate.
There are three stages of education defined as follows:
Note that it’s only possible to change schools at either 11 or 13 – this will depend on the type of school you are looking at.
If you know that your soldier will be leaving the Army before a stage of education is completed, you need to consider whether you can continue to pay the fees yourself. Entitlement to CEA stops either the term after a Service parent’s end of Service date, or the term before if this falls in school holidays.
Once you receive an eligibility certificate, the soldier applies for CEA three times a year in a specified window via JPA and the allowance is given via bank transfer. It is your responsibility to then pay this to the school.
Eligibility certificates need renewing at any change e.g. house address, job, education stage, school or at the certificate renewal date.Back to top
Whether or not you have a school in mind yet, the following may help you make an informed choice about your child’s school.
Got a question? Email AFF at email@example.comBack to top
The best place to start when choosing an independent school is to ring the CEAS and ask for a list of all registered CEA schools in your chosen area.
Click on the links on this page and find the boarding section. There you will find various search engines. One in particular has an advanced search which enables you to find schools with Armed Forces bursaries.
The HIVE is also a good place to go for boarding school brochures and other info.
There is a good-schools guide, as well as various independent companies who will offer specific schools tailored to your wishes. These companies may not charge you for their services, but they may charge the schools for inclusion – remember, there may be other schools that fit your criteria who choose not to participate.
Independent schools are inspected both independently and also by Ofsted; you can find the latest reports online.Back to top
Please click here to learn more about how the MOD supports children with Special Educational Needs who would like to go to boarding school.Back to top
Costs vary widely. Some schools state their fees and very little is added to the extras bill, and some charge for every piece of stationary.
Here is a list of things to consider when budgeting:
Costs to consider:
You will need to pay a minimum contribution of 10% of the fees (unless you are claiming SENA). This can end up being considerably more depending on the level of the fees as CEA is capped at an upper limit.
CEA doesn’t necessarily always reflect the increase in your particular schools fees and families are responsible for this increase, not the MOD.Back to top
If you’re considering boarding as an option for your family, ring up and ask schools for a prospectus.
Once you’ve received this, you will be able to make a decision about whether you want to find out more and visit. Visiting schools is vital and it’s important that you ask lots of questions.
Here is a list of questions to print off and take with you.
Questions to ask boarding school students who show you round:
Questions to ask the admissions team:
Questions to ask the Head:
Questions to ask Matron:
There are a wide variety of schools offering different things to suit your child and your circumstances. There are also various discounts on offer. However, please be aware of the small print.
Some schools may ask you to sign up for a number of terms in advance. Nine terms, for example, doesn’t sound much, but three years is a long time in your child’s educational life.
If your child becomes unhappy, or your circumstances change significantly, and you sign up for a certain number of terms in advance, you may be liable for the outstanding fees, even if you have permission from the MOD to withdraw your child.Back to top
Despite being prepared and having planned well, your child may not settle, may change their behaviour significantly or just might not be suitable for boarding school.
If you’re worried about your child and think that the best thing for them would be to come home, then seek advice.
Firstly, if you’re at all worried about a safeguarding issue, act immediately and remove your child from the situation.
If, however, you have had time to think about this for a while, have had strategies put in place that haven’t worked or maybe there has been an ongoing health issue, or similar that just hasn’t gone away, or the school is changing in some way, then you may want to withdraw your child from boarding school.
Before you make any formal decision with the school, contact CEAS – you can find details at the top of the page – and ask for their advice.
If you wish to continue with a local school and not return to boarding, then you can withdraw without financial penalty from the CEA system; however, you will also need to check your contract with the school as you may have to give notice.
If you wish to choose another boarding school, then you will need to put in casework to explain why this school is no longer suitable and why you see a need to change schools; you will also need to check you contract with the school.
If your child has reached the end of an education stage, or has finished at a particular school, then you can change or leave without too much of an issue.
Got a question? Email our Education and Childcare Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07527 492 869.