Education Support Fund (ESF)

Education Support Fund (ESF)


The Secretary of State for Defence in July 2018 announced the extension of the Education Support Fund, on a limited basis, for an additional two years. The fund will consist of £3 million in 2018/19 and £2 million in 2019/20.


Successful applications to date have been for a wide range of initiatives. All been able to provide strong evidence of how their proposal would help Service children and schools to overcome the effects of exceptional mobility or deployment. The bids also demonstrated a good relationship with their Service community.


Schools supporting children of Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel typically have relatively smaller numbers of Service children on role, and often these children are affected more by deployment than by mobility (although mobility will be a strong feature in the lives of some). Such schools are still able to bid successfully to the ESF, but will need to ensure that they provide strong evidence of how their proposals will mitigate the challenges faced by their Service children. Full details of how to bid can be found via the link at the bottom of this section. Bids that are incomplete or do not follow the instructions may be weeded out in the first round, so it is important to follow the process. Particular attention in the bid-writing process should be paid to:


  • Explaining how the school already utilises Service Pupil Premium (SPP) and demonstrating the effectiveness of this.
  • Identifying a suitable Armed Forces sponsor who can assist with a statement that focuses on the impact of the proposed project. Generic statements are less effective in strengthening a bid.
  • Providing actual numbers of Service children being supported and ensuring that the size of the bid is proportionate.
  • Demonstrating a sound understanding of the needs of Service children and how these might be addressed.
  • Avoiding bidding for projects which are clearly intended to bolster funding for whole-school activity without a clear rationale for specific impact for Service children.


Applications for the 2020 Fund are for a one-off grant. Payments will by 5 April 2020. Audits will be carried out by the Directorate Children and Young People in April 2021 to ensure funding has been spent as stated in the application and to assess the impact of the scheme.



To be eligible for a grant a school must be in the UK and must have at least 1 Service Child, subject to exceptional mobility or deployment (see criteria at the link below).


Applications can be accepted from:
  1. Maintained schools;
  2. Academies;
  3. Free schools;
  4. Sixth Form colleges;
  5. Groups of any schools described above (referred to as ‘cluster bids’ and are strongly encouraged);
  6. Local authorities on behalf of the publicly funded schools in their area.


If applying as a cluster an individual school can also submit their own separate bid, provided it is for a different initiative (no double bidding allowed).


The following are not eligible:
  1. Childcare providers;
  2. Colleges of higher education or further education;
  3. Commercial organisations or those that would seek to charge for their solution to be provided to a school, for example – an organisation could not be awarded a grant to develop a training course which it then charged schools to attend.


The bidding round for the 2020 ESF will open on Monday 3rd June 2019 and close at noon on Monday 30th September 2019.


Full details and information on how to apply can be found here.


Posted on: 6th August, 2018
Updated on: 30th April, 2019