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How’s it going at school?

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How’s it going at school?

What impact does Service life have on children’s education?

Have you ever wondered whether your Service, or that of a serving parent, has affected your children’s educational achievement? At the Naval Families Federation, we’ve been asking these questions of the Department for Education. They have responded by providing information on education statistics for England specifically on UK Armed Forces Personnel’s children, which you can find on the ‘Official Statistics’ part of the Gov.uk website. The bulletin compares service children to non-service children (in comparable socioeconomic circumstances). A summary of the key findings is below:

  • In each year between 2012/13 and 2014/15 there’s been little difference between the attainment of service children and non-service children at Key Stage 2 (2014/15: 82.3% and 82.9% respectively) and Key Stage 4 (2014/15: 64.9% and 63.0% respectively).
  • In 2014/15 Service children were more likely to attend more than one school, compared to non-Service children, at both primary (65.8% and 37.4% respectively) and secondary (29.8% and 18.5% respectively). This is most likely due to the requirement for Service personnel to be mobile, as an assignment to a new role could require a locational move, resulting in their children having to move schools.
  • For Service children attending one school, the attainment at Key Stage 2 and 4 was the same or higher than for non-Service children.
  • For Service children who attended more than one school, at both primary and secondary (Key Stage 2 and 4), the percentage achieving the acceptable level fell. However, they performed better than non-Service children who attended more than one school.
  • The same percentage of Service children and non-Service children attended outstanding and good OFSTED rated schools (80.1% and 80.2% respectively) in 2014/15. However fewer Service children attended outstanding schools (17.6% and 21.5% respectively).

The good news is that Service children appear to be achieving at least as well as their peers, if not better in some cases. Clearly we don’t know how well they might have achieved if they were not from a Service background, but these statistics do seem encouraging. Where children appear to be at the most disadvantage is around frequent and repeated mobility, which seems to have a negative impact on attainment. Transitions between schools need to be carefully managed to mitigate this situation.

The DfE have told us that they now hope to be able to produce regular annual statistics about the education of Service children.

As always, we welcome your thoughts on this subject, including feedback from families outside of England whose experiences are not captured by the DfE’s statistics.