Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA)

Overview

Joint Service Publications (JSPs) are rules and regulations for the Armed Forces. They are numbered and available on the defence intranet (Dii) for all soldiers to access.

Certain ones directly affect families including JSP 752 that deals will allowances; chapter four deals with School Children’s Visits and chapter nine deals with education allowances.

It is updated nearly every month, so make sure that you have a copy of the most up to date version when referring to it.

NEW UPDATE: School children’s visits and coronavirus

New guidance has been issued on school children’s visits (SCVs) and the coronavirus. For more information, please click here.

Please check our COVID-19 section for up-to-date information, as the coronavirus outbreak may affect the advice given on this page.

Contents

01   Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA)

Firstly, you’ll need to contact the MOD Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS). To find out more about who they are and their contact details, click here. They will issue you with a serial number unique to you. You’ll need to fill in the paperwork on Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) and when completed, if you are eligible, you will be issued with an eligibility certificate. There are a few considerations and many regulations to abide by.

The following is an over view of what the CEA process involves.

  • Contact CEAS for information and a serial number
  • Complete the forms on JPA
  • If eligible, your solider will be issued with an eligibility certificate by Pay and Allowances Casework and Complaints Cell (DBS PACCC)
  • CEA is claimed via JPA in a published ‘window’ three times a year ready for the next term
  • Once you start to claim, you will need to keep the receipts from the school to show that you have paid them
  • The CEA rate is calculated every summer and the new rate is published in August

You must renew your CEA eligibility certificate (CEA EC) every time anything changes including: when withdrawing from CEA for one child but continuing for another, when changing school, when your certificate expires and at any other time when directed by the DBS PACCC.

It is worth noting that:

  • Claimants who are assigned for six months or less, or on an operational assignment of any length, are not required to renew their CEA EC on assignment, provided their current CEA EC remains valid.
  • If a claimant is extended in post for six months or less, but is in possession of an assignment order to join a new unit within six months of the expiry of their current CEA EC, they may seek permission from the DBS PACCC to extend their current CEA EC and complete one immediately on arrival at their new assignment.
  • A change between junior and senior school, where there is a change of Head Teacher or location, is regarded as a change of school.

Got a question or wish to discuss this in more detail? Contact the AFF Money & Allowances Specialist at money@aff.org.uk

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02   CEA rates

AFF fully supports the choice of accompanied Service for Army families.

When choosing to accompany the soldier, we recognise the impact this may have on the whole family, including the disruption and uncertainty of their children’s education.

One of the ways the MOD supports a continuous education is through the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA), which is available for all eligible, mobile soldiers. It is a capped allowance and has risen very little in the last few years.

Ensuring better access

AFF is often invited to comment on the CEA reviews that regularly take place. This has resulted in ensuring that the lower paid soldiers are not prevented from using the allowance despite regular increases in fees by schools and it also ensures that your views and experiences are considered in the decision making. This is ongoing work.

Whilst we recognise the fiscal quandary for the MOD to keep up with the spiralling cost of private education, for continuity of education to work, there is a necessity to sign up for the long term. State Boarding Schools are not the only solution as these schools are often full and there are simply not enough places across the UK.

Talk it through

If you have any comments or queries about CEA, email AFF’s Money & Allowances Specialist at money@aff.org.uk

Education allowances per term from 01 August 2021

CEA Board – Junior: £6,096
CEA Board – Senior: £7,847

Your soldier can access more information on Joint Personnel Administration (JPA).

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03   What is SENA and who can claim it?

SENA is the CEA Special Educational Needs Allowance. This can be claimed by Service families if a child, who is already in receipt of CEA, is then found to have Special Educational Needs (SEN). You’ll need to contact the Children’s Educational Advisory Service (CEAS) in the first instance. For more information and to access the application form please click here.

CEA (SENA) may be available should your child have identified Special Educational Needs and/or disability (SEND). You should make contact with CEAS who will be able to give you up to date information and the appropriate forms to pass on to your child’s boarding school. 

Useful things to know

  • SENA is not for additional tuition for Common Entrance exams, nor regarding special arrangements in exams.
  • CEAS expects that the forms are filled in with detail, explaining how the areas of need will be appropriately met. It is always valuable to have input from the parents and the child.
  • CEAS takes its responsibility for the allocation of public funding very seriously, and applications are rejected if the child cannot be deemed to have SEND or the information from the school is inadequate.
  • Educational Psychology reports are no longer required to obtain SENA.

The email for CEAS is: DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@mod.gov.uk

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04   CEA (Guardians) Allowance

Sometimes, postings don’t coincide with school years and it can become tricky especially when your child is at a day school and studying for examinations. It’s also an issue if the posting is abroad and a similar curriculum isn’t offered.

The aim of this allowance is to financially assist families who choose for their child to stay with a guardian so that the child may attend a particular day school continuously.

The allowance is intended to cover the additional costs of living away from your home such as postage, telephone calls and stationery. The allowance is not intended to cover school fees.

Contact CEAS for more details – dcyp-ceas-enquiries@mod.gov.uk

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05   Day School Allowance (North Wales)

This allowance is to support families who live in North Wales to have access to education in English.

Teaching in English is often only available at independent day schools and therefore this allowance is a contribution towards the fees.

Currently this is for all children of statutory school age.

If you have experience of this, please contact money@aff.org.uk

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06   School Children’s Visits (SCV) - AFF campaign

School Children’s Visits (SCVs) are a contribution towards the cost of reuniting children with their families wherever they are posted to, over a certain distance away. This could be for half terms and/or holidays.

Parents contribute to these journeys. The SCVs year is from September to August; to find out more details and claim, please visit your unit admin office.

AFF has been campaigning for all children to have equal access to be able to visit their parents wherever they live in the world.

If you’re divorced and posted overseas, then current military policy doesn’t offer you the same access to some MOD family allowances as your married peers.

The inability to claim SCVs is significantly affecting the ability of many in your position to see their children due to the additional cost of travelling to an overseas posting. To find out more, including AFF’s view, please click here.

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07   CEA and sixth form

Full details of the changes can be found in DIN01-099, which Service personnel can access on MODNet.

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The June 2018 policy that required Service personnel to apply for a new CEA eligibility certificate for their child’s sixth form (or equivalent) education stage has been rescinded.

From 31 August 2021, Service personnel will no longer have to re-apply for a new eligibility certificate before their child starts in the sixth form (Years 12 and 13 in England or its equivalent in the devolved nations).

Eligibility certificates will still need to be authorised on a change of assignment, at the end of a child’s stage of education or for other reasons listed in the policy guidance (JSP 752).  These certificates will now normally be authorised for the full three years.

It is important to note that when Service personnel apply for a CEA eligibility certificate, they will continue to be assessed on their previous and future assignment mobility and family mobility.  Where mobility has been, or likely to be, limited, then eligibility will continue to be reviewed by commanding officers and PACCC.

The two years of sixth form will remain a protected stage of education. However, the MOD does ask families to consider whether their individual circumstances still warrant the claiming of CEA post-GCSE, as a move from secondary school to another school or sixth form college may be unavoidable if the original school has no sixth form.

Families should keep track of the end date of their current valid CEA eligibility certificate and ensure they always have a valid certificate for the academic term that is being claimed.

If your child attends a secondary/senior school which includes a sixth form, then the child will be expected to continue at that school to maintain continuity of education.

If you do have extenuating circumstances for wanting to change schools during a stage of education, please seek more advice on acceptable reasons for changing schools from your unit admin team and through the relevant policy guidance (JSP 752 Chapter 14 Part 1 Annex D).

There will be a transition period for the new process to be introduced: 

1 September 2021 to 31 January 2022: If your eligibility certificate is due to expire on 31 July 2022 (at the end of GCSEs or equivalent), when you submit your application for a renewal it will be processed as a routine renewal. The application will not be rejected for being submitted more than six months before the eligibility certificate’s expiry date. 

From 1 February 2022: Routine eligibility certificate renewals should not be submitted to PACCC more than six months before the expiry date or they will be rejected.

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08   The 50 mile rule

AFF is currently investigating an issue regarding moving over 50 miles away from your current location.

Regulations state that in order to prove mobility, a Service person must be likely to move over 50 miles away in the next four years.

AFF believes this may leave an unacceptable choice for the family between a 50 mile commute for the soldier or a 50 mile school run for the child one way to maintain a continuous education outside the CEA system.

Often, it is not possible to retain a quarter, leaving the family no real choice. We believe that this choice is unrealistic for the family and unsuitable for the child. This should not be a reason for eligibility of CEA to prove mobility. Directed postings, tied quarters, lengthy op tours and unforeseen circumstances often means that this is an issue for otherwise mobile families.

We are currently working on this. Please contact the Money & Allowances Specialist at money@aff.org.uk to share your views or experiences.

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09   The 90-day rule

If a Service person’s (SP) spouse/civil partner spends 90 or more days away from the Resident at Work Address (RWA), either consecutive or aggregated during a 12-month period, their eligibility for certain expenses and allowances, such as Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) will be reviewed.

It has often been seen as unfair by Army families because of the perceived restriction on spousal employment. AFF has been working with the chain of command and has received further advice that may help families understand the policy better.

The advice is that the 90-day policy is actually guidance to COs to help determine accompanied status, not to hamper spousal employment. Where the SP thinks that their spouse/civil partner’s absence is likely to exceed the 90 days, they should advise their Unit HR.

The 90 days’ absence should not be regarded as an ‘allowance’, but rather as a degree of flexibility to accompanied status. The key is whether the absence is reasonable. For instance, in cases where the spouse/civil partner’s employment takes them away for short periods from the family home, if they routinely return to what can be reasonably considered the family home, then their accompanied status should remain unaffected. Conversely, if they establish another residence where the majority of their possessions are stored, then the accompanied status will be questioned.

You can read the full clarification from the Army’s allowances team below:

The guidance on accompanied status in respect of CEA can be found in JSP752, (Annex A to Section 1 of Chapter 2). If a Service person’s spouse/civil partner spends 90 or more days away from the Residence at Work Address, either consecutive or aggregated during a 12-month period, their eligibility for certain expenses and allowances, such as Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) and/or CEA will be reviewed. It is for the Commanding Officer to conduct a review of the Service person’s accompanied status in accordance with JSP752. The 90-day policy is guidance to COs to help determine accompanied status, not to hamper spousal employment. Where the Service person thinks that their spouse/civil partner’s absence is likely to exceed the 90 days, or in any case of doubt, they should advise their Unit HR immediately. The CO will take all of the facts into account in determining whether accompanied status has been achieved or not. Clearly, the fewer the number of days the spouse/civil partner is absent from the family home, then the more the SP is able to claim that they are properly accompanied.

Following a review, if the CO is unable to determine the SP’s accompanied status then casework should be submitted the DBS PACCC for a decision. Similarly, if the SP is not content with the outcome of the CO’s review of their accompanied status they may also submit casework to the Defence Business Service Pay and Allowances Casework and Complaints Cell (DBS PACCC). The relevant guidance can be found in JSP752, Chapter 2, Section 1, Annex A; JSP 752

This clarification is good news for spouses. Please let us know if you have any concerns about this and we would be happy to pass them on to the right people. You can contact us at money@aff.org.uk

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10   Unaccompanied flights for minors

Some airlines have recently withdrawn their unaccompanied minors service. It’s important to note that families should not be financially disadvantaged by this decision taken by airlines.

Revised guidance from the MOD states that it’s a parent’s responsibility to research airline provision for unaccompanied minors to their specific location as each airline has different age restrictions. It’s the MOD’s responsibility to advise on alternative MOD-funded travel options.

The Service person should in the first instance contact the MOD Families Section UKSTRATCOM-DefSp-DSCOM-FamSec@mod.gov.uk  when there are no airlines offering an unaccompanied minors service to or from an overseas location or to the closest airport in the UK.

If families still have concerns or questions, please contact money@aff.org.uk

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