Education Support Fund (ESF)
The Education Support Fund (ESF), launched in 2011 and subsequently extended by the Secretary of State for Defence (2018-2020), provided funding to assist publicly funded schools, Academies and Free Schools throughout the UK to mitigate the effects of exceptional mobility and/or deployment of their Service communities; Regular Armed Forces, including Reserves on Full Time commitment (FTRS FC).
Funding from the 2020 ESF will benefit approx. 25,000 Service children across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In light of ongoing rebasing activity, with further unit and personnel moves and associated disruption expected, the Directorate Children and Young People has secured £3 million from the Army TLB to fund an extension of the ESF for the 2020/2021 financial year. Minister for Defence Veterans, Reserves and Personnel clearance and support of the extension was received on 31 March 2020.
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.
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:
- Maintained schools;
- Free schools;
- Sixth Form colleges;
- Groups of any schools described above (referred to as ‘cluster bids’ and are strongly encouraged);
- 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:
- Childcare providers;
- Colleges of higher education or further education;
- 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.
2021 Bidding Round
This year’s ESF has been particularly welcomed by schools across the UK, with DCYP receiving a total of 115 applications requesting just short of £4.8 million.
The bidding round closed on 7 October 2020 and all applications supported by the funding panels will receive either full or partial funding. In total, 72 applicants secured funding from the 2021 ESF (19 full, 53 partial) and the funding will directly benefit approximately 16,500 Service children across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Result letters were circulated to all applicants at the end of November 2020; all grants will be paid before the end of the current financial year.