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Education

1. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service – UCAS

UCAS is an independent charity providing information, advice, and admissions services for universities and colleges across the UK. Click here for their advice to applicants from the Armed Forces community.

Information for students
Applying to University
Telling your story to UCAS for young people

Telling your story to UCAS for young people

Children from military service families are under-represented in the higher education population. Up to 4 out of 10 children who, if in the general population would go to university, do not go if they are from a military family (McCullouch and Hall, 2016). This has been recognised by the Office for Students (OfS), which identifies children from military families as a target group to be addressed by universities and colleges in their access arrangements. You can find out more about this on page 18 of this document. The Office for Fair Access (the body which previously was responsible for higher education access) published a topic briefing about students for military families which you can find here.

 

The Naval Families Federation is working with its partners in the Service Children’s Progression Alliance to improve further and higher education outcomes for Service children, and to encourage universities to include them in their access arrangements. The Alliance website is a useful source of resources for teachers, parents and others who are interested in championing children from Armed Forces families.

What do I need to do as a potential university applicant, or the parent of a young person applying to go to university?

What do I need to do as a potential university applicant, or the parent of a young person applying to go to university?

You can, if you wish, make the university aware of your status as a child of a military family. Very often we find that young people from Armed Forces families do not consider themselves to be particularly ‘different’. You may not see any reason why your characteristics should be of any special interest to your chosen university. On the other hand, there may be aspects of being part of an Armed Forces family that have influenced your choices and outcomes. Your UCAS application gives you an opportunity to say something about these if you wish to do so. Obviously you are your own person, and not defined by your parent’s military service, but it may have had an influence – positive, negative or neutral – on your educational journey and your personal growth.

My UCAS application

There are 3 areas of your UCAS application where you may identify as a young person from a military family:

Parental Occupation

Parental Occupation

On your UCAS application, there is a parental occupation box with a drop down menu from which you can select ‘Armed Forces’. This enables UCAS to collect data which will help build a clearer picture of what is happening for Armed Forces families nationally.

Personal Statement

Personal Statement

 

There is plenty of information on the UCAS website about writing your personal statement. We particularly like the writing tool which leads you through the sections and explains what to include.

 

Section 1 – the course

The first section of your personal statement will explain:

  • why you are applying for your chosen course;
  • why the subject interests you;
  • why you are suitable for the course;
  • how your current or previous studies relate to the chosen course;
  • and what other activities you have undertaken that demonstrate your interest in the course.

Section 2 – your skills and achievements

In the second section you will write about the skills and achievements that will help you on your chosen course of study and with life at university in general, giving evidence to support why you are right for your course. There is an opportunity to say something here about particular skills that you may have gained from being part of an Armed Forces family. Keep it positive. Include skills that are relevant to the course you are hoping to study and make the link. For example:

“I moved schools frequently as a result of my parent’s service, and have learnt to settle in quickly in new places and cope with change.”

“My parent has been away from home a lot with the Armed Forces. I have needed to be responsible for my younger siblings at times, and this has helped me to organise my time and be reliable.”

“I have learned to cope with stress and be more resilient as a result of my parent being injured whilst deployed on combat operations. Although it was hard at the time, I worry less now about big challenges because I know I can cope with difficult situations.”

“I am a young carer for my brother who has special educational needs. When my dad is serving away from home with the Armed Forces, I take on additional responsibility for my brother while my mum is at work. This shows that I am independent and resourceful.”

“As someone from an Armed Forces family, I have had to be adaptable and flexible as roles and routines in our home change a lot depending whether my dad is away.”

UCAS Undergraduate Reference

UCAS Undergraduate Reference

You can give your permission for your school, college or registered centre to include information in your reference about your circumstances that may have affected/have affected your academic work.

 

For example:

  • School moves that disrupted your learning for a particular course of study;
  • A parent deployed on combat operations during examinations;
  • Being a young carer;
  • Having a serving parent who is affected by a life-changing injury or medical condition.

 

This information can help the admissions staff at the university to consider your achievements and potential in context. It is best if you let you referee see a copy of your personal statement so that they can avoid duplicating what you said, but they can comment on what you wrote if they wish.

 

Good luck! We wish you every success with your application. If you want to tell us about your journey into higher education, please do get in touch with us. We would love to hear your story!

Further information
  • If you are a teacher, or are supporting a student with their UCAS application, please encourage them to complete all the relevant application fields in full. You can find out more about contextualised admissions here.
  • UCAS toolkit for teachers and advisers who are supporting students with individual needs through the application process.
  • If you are writing a reference for a student’s UCAS application, you can find additional guidance here.
  • If you are supporting a young person with their application, there is a ‘Make the most of your Assets pack’ from the SCiP Alliance that you can download here.
  • Connected Forces is a supportive on-line community for 16-19 year olds from military families. This UK-wide project is run by the SCiP Alliance in partnership with Brightside and fully funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.

 

Student funding
National
  • The President’s Award Scheme

The President’s Award Scheme can provide educational grants and scholarships to the children of serving and ex-Service non-commissioned ranks up to university age. One-off grants of up to £500 are available to help pay for course fees, public transport costs, text books, course equipment, specialist clothing and more. Alongside the grants, scholarships are available for applicants who are going to university and aged 21 or under. A continuation application is required each year and is accepted up to age 23. Up to £1,500 per year can be awarded to Service children going to university to study for their first undergraduate degree; usually awards are made to help with accommodation costs. The awards are decided by committee who will look at the individual circumstances of each applicant. The Committee meets tri-annually in January, July, and September.

Regional

You can find information about student funding, depending on where you live, here:

 

If you experience difficulties in securing higher education funding because of your connection to the Royal Navy or Royal Marines, please do contact us and let us know. We are committed to removing disadvantage related to your Service connection. You can also contact CEAS for expert guidance on the process.

Becoming a Teacher in the UK
Becoming a teacher in the UK

You can apply through UCAS for the main postgraduate and undergraduate teacher training programmes in England, Wales, and Scotland. The route for teacher training differs in Northern Ireland. Details of all the routes can be found on the UCAS website hereIf you are already a qualified teacher, and are experiencing difficulties in transferring your skills between devolved nations on re-assignment to a new area, please do contact us.

2. Related news/updates
(April 2019) - Universities Urged To Boost Support For Armed Forces Families
  • (April 2019) – Universities Urged To Boost Support For Armed Forces Families

 

Ministers have urged all UK universities to boost support for Armed Forces communities.

 

In a joint letter dated 18th April 2019, Tobias Ellwood, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, and Chris Skidmore, Universities Minister called on institutions to sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant.

 

Currently 57 out of 136 UK universities have signed up to the Covenant, including 3 of the 24 Russell Group universities. The Russell Group represents those universities with a shared focus on research and a reputation for academic achievement. According to research conducted by the University of Winchester, the participation for young people from Armed Forces families in higher education is 24%, compared to a rate of approximately 43% for the overall population.

 

This call came in light of the recent announcement from Department for Education which confirmed a £5 million funding to pay the tuition fees for eligible serving personnel and Service Leavers.

 

Universities can support the Armed Forces Covenant in a number of ways including ensuring admissions policies reflect the needs of the Armed Forces community, benchmarking Service experience and qualifications against course entry requirements or having a presence at local careers fairs for those leaving the Services. Universities which have already signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant are leading the way with support for military personnel and their families, pledging to support those who wish to serve in the armed forces as Reservists, and offering flexible leave before or after deployment to personnel and their partners.

 

The Ministers have also called on universities to establish Armed Forces champions within each institution, which would be empowered to uphold the commitments of the Covenant, and to act as a first point of contact for the Armed Forces community, Service charities, and local businesses.

 

Some universities have also included Service children as a target group in their Access and Participation Plans, which all English universities will be drawing up this year for implementation in 2020/21. This is an initiative which the NFF has been actively involved in.

 

We welcome your views. Please do contact us if you have any concerns or would like to share your lived experience.

 

Further Information
Last updated on: 8th April, 2022

The Service Children’s Progression (SCiP) Alliance is a partnership of organisations focused on improving outcomes for children from military families. It is funded by the Ministry of Defence. The Naval Families Federation has been a proactive partner since the Alliance’s inception and is represented on the Board.

 

The SCiP Alliance’s Mission is to champion the progression of the children of military personnel, so that they can make informed and confident transitions through further and higher education into thriving adult lives and careers. It is working to establish and sustain an alliance of stakeholder organisations across the UK to develop a coherent strategy for the progression of Service children into thriving adult lives and careers. It is also developing an effective practice hub that will enable the continuous improvement of practitioners’ work with and for Service children’s education and progression in local contexts. The Alliance leads a research and knowledge exchange unit to drive improvements in understanding, evidence and impact focused on Service children’s outcomes.

 

You can find out more about the Alliance on its website here.

 

Posted on: 7th June, 2018

Service children in state schools (SCISS) was formed as a working group to look into the issues relating to English state schools providing for children whose parents serve in the Armed Forces. It was convened by CEAS (Children’s Education Advisory Service) in the latter part of 2003. CEAS is a UK wide Ministry of Defence (MOD) service which provides information, guidance and support to service families, schools and local authorities and has been part of the MOD’s Directorate for Children and Young People (DCYP) since 2010.

 

SCISS is now an affiliation of more than 1500 state-maintained schools in England which have children of service personnel on roll, led by a National Executive Advisory Committee made up of headteachers, local authority representatives, and representatives of the three Families Federations. The group is supported by representatives from the Department for Education (DfE), and DCYP.

 

You can find out more about SCISS on its webpage here.

 

The Voice of Schools Survey Report

SCISS have published the results of their survey of schools supporting Service children. 461 schools responded, including schools with small numbers of Service children. The survey questionnaire listed seven previously documented challenges experienced by some Service children, their families, and/or the schools they attend. It asked respondents to indicate how much of a challenge these presented to their school.

 

The full report and a summary can be accessed here.

 

The Naval Families Federation welcomes this important contribution from schools that helps to evidence the needs of Service children and those supporting them. We will be working with the SCISS and other partners to address the issues raised.

 

Posted on: 7th June, 2018
Updated on: 22nd March, 2021

1. Introduction

Further education (FE) includes any study after secondary education that is not part of higher education (that is, not taken as part of an undergraduate or graduate degree). Courses range from basic English and maths to Higher National Diplomas (HNDs).

 

FE also includes 3 types of technical and applied qualifications for 16 to 19-year-olds:

  • level 3 tech levels to specialise in a specific technical job;
  • level 2 technical certificates help get employment or progress to another tech level;
  • applied general qualifications to continue general education at advanced level; through applied learning.

 

2. Get started

You can find out more about types of qualifications, funding and financial support here 

 

3. Qualification

A question that often gets asked when people are transitioning between devolved administrations, is – what is the difference between their qualifications? If this is something you have wondered or would like further information on, please have a look at this UK qualifications comparison table. 

4. Other schemes/ support

If you’re interested in learning new skills or starting a course, there are a range of educational/funding opportunities open to you: 

Click here to explore the initatives.
Bereavement Scholarship Scheme - Scholarships for children whose parent died in Service

Scholarships for children whose parent died in Service – Bereavement Scholarship Scheme

 

You can apply for help with the costs of further and higher education if all of the following are true:

  • one of your parents died as a result of their service in the Armed Forces;
  • your parent died on or after 1 January 1990;
  • you’re 16 or over and in full-time education;
  • you or a surviving parent receive bereavement benefits from the Armed Forces Compensation scheme, War Pension scheme or Armed Forces Attributable Benefits scheme.

You can’t apply if you were the foster child of the person who died.

You can use the money to pay tuition fees and your maintenance for:

  • a further education course of up to 3 years;
  • your first undergraduate course at a UK university or other higher education institution (such as a college or art school) – this can include study abroad if it’s part of the course;
  • a higher level technical education course at qualification levels 4, 5 or 6.

Find out more and apply here.

Connected Forces

Connected Forces is a supportive on-line community for 16-19 year olds from military families. This UK-wide project is run by the SCiP Alliance in partnership with Brightside and fully funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.

 

What does it involve?

  • Young people will connect with like-minded peers and keep in touch via group chats
  • Opportunities to question ‘experts’ in careers or education to support their next steps
  • Contribute to discussion forums led by university students and recent graduates from military backgrounds
  • Access specially assigned resources and live events throughout the year
The Learning and Development Organisation (LDO)

The Learning and Development Organisation (LDO)

The LDO enables RN/RM Service personnel to access learning, development and resettlement support. This is available when shoreside, or at sea when deployed on operations.

The Open University
The Open University

The Open University (OU) teaches through its own unique method of distance learning, called ‘supported open learning’. This is flexible, allowing students to work where and when they choose to fit in with jobs, families and other commitments. Find out about their courses here.

Learn Direct
Learn Direct

Learn Direct are the UK’s largest provider of skills, training and employment services. They can help you to access qualifications in everyday skills like maths, English and IT, as well as vocational qualifications and Apprenticeships. Learning can be based in one of their centres, at work or online. Depending on what level you’re working towards and your age, your qualification could be funded by the government. For some qualifications, there might be a charge. If there is a charge and you’re 24 or over and on an eligible qualification, a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan could help. Find out more here.

Open Distance Learning Quality Council
Open Distance Learning Quality Council

Open or Distance Learning can be a good choice for Armed Forces family members. It is important to choose a reputable training provider. The Open and Distance Learning Quality Council (ODLQC) aims to identify and enhance quality in education and training, and to protect the interests of learners. You can find out if a training provider is accredited by checking on the ODLQC’s website.

Future Learn
Future Learn

Future Learn is a private company wholly owned by The Open University. They offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life. They have 145 partners from around the world. These include many of the best UK and international universities, as well as institutions with a huge archive of cultural and educational material, such as the British Council, the British Library, the British Museum, and the National Film and Television School.  They also work with a range of internationally renowned organisations – from professional bodies such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), to businesses like the BBC and Marks & Spencer, to the UK Government. Find out more here.

Enhanced Learning Credits (for serving people)

Enhanced Learning Credits (for serving people)

The MOD’s Enhanced Learning Credits Scheme (ELC) promotes lifelong learning amongst members of the Armed Forces. The scheme provides financial support in each of a maximum of three separate financial years for higher level learning of a nationally recognised qualification at Level three or above or, if pursued overseas, an approved international equivalent qualification with an approved learning provider. To check eligibility and find out more visit the ELC website.

DistanceLearningCentre.com
DistanceLearningCentre.com

Provides Access to Higher Education courses, and is an approved learning provider for the MOD ELC scheme. Find out more here.

Last updated on: 7th April, 2022

If you are offered an overseas assignment, you will have to look carefully into the education available for your children. It is essential that your children are registered on JPA, and that you contact the Overseas Education and Supportability Team (OEST – formerly CEAS)* for advice. This is especially important if you have a child with Special Educational Needs or Disability (SEND).

 

The type and quality of education available will differ from country to country and often from one part of a country to another. Remember that what is right for one child is not necessarily right for another. The age and ability of your child will have an effect on your decision. The opportunity for a child to be educated in a different system and different culture can be attractive, but you will have to weigh up carefully the advantages and disadvantages.

 

*Important note: The gov.uk pages are being updated to reflect the restructure in the MOD’s education teams. The information on our website is correct as of May 2022. 

General information

Education provision overseas can be roughly divided into the following types, not all of which will be available in every location: 

  • MOD schools; 
  • English speaking schools (these may be local state schools, or in some cases independent day schools); 
  • Non-English-speaking schools (local state schools, with an allowance to help your child to learn the local language); 
  • International schools (independent, usually English-speaking schools). 

 

If you decide that there is no suitable schooling for your child at the overseas location you might want to consider boarding in the UK. The Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) is available for eligible Service personnel to help them with the cost of boarding education. 

MOD Schools

MOD Schools is part of the Defence Children Services (DCS – formerly DCYP). MOD schools and settings provide education to the dependent children of Service personnel and MOD entitled civilians, entitled contractors and fee payers. MOD schools are predominantly overseas, with one school in Scotland. 

Unaccompanied Minors Flights

Different airlines have different policies regarding unaccompanied minors’ flights. To understand an airline’s specific unaccompanied minors’ policy, have a look on their website. 

 

If you cannot find an airline to book an unaccompanied minors flight, MOD policy will fund return flights for one parent to collect their children. Please refer to the following sections in JSP 752 for details: 

  • 10.0222: Locations where no Airline Offers an Unaccompanied Minors (UNMIN) Service to/from/within the UK 
  • 10.0223: Reimbursement of any Costs Charged by Civilian Airlines for the Moving of Unaccompanied Minors (UNMINS) 
Posted on: 12th May, 2016
Updated on: 17th May, 2022

Special Educational Needs & Disability

The term ‘Special Educational Needs & Disability’ (SEND) has a legal definition, referring to children who have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn or access education than other children of the same age.

If your child has a special educational need, they may require extra help in a range of areas, such as reading and writing, comprehension of information, building relationships and behavioral issues. They may also have a physical or sensory need which must be addressed.

 

UK wide

The Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum (FANDF) is a tri-Service group for current Serving families or individuals who have a child or adult dependent with an additional need and/or disability.

 

England

The Family and Childcare Trust has produced a guide to childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities in England, click here.

The National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) was launched in 2011, and is funded by central government. The NNPCF is a network of local forums meeting in regional settings, working together to effect local and national service improvement through participation and co-production with parent carers, click here.

 

Scotland

Capability Scotland campaigns with, and provides education, employment and care services for, disabled children and adults across Scotland, click here.

 

Wales

SNAP Cymru provides information, advice and support for parents, children and young people who have, or may have, special educational needs or disabilities. It provides impartial, confidential and free advice through its helpline and specialist casework service, click here.

 

Northern Ireland

The Special Educational Needs Advice Centre (SENAC) is a charity providing confidential, independent advice and advocacy on behalf of children and young people with disabilities and special educational needs (SEN) attending schools in Northern Ireland up to the age of 19 years, click here.

 

Further Information
Registering a Special Educational Need

A special educational need should be registered with the Service. Although it is not compulsory, it would also be beneficial to register with CEAS, so that they can liaise with your employer to ensure that your child’s needs can be met on future postings.

 

Other Organisations

Family Fund is the UK’s largest charity providing grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people.

 

Disability Benefits

GOV.UK – the official government website for citizens with a comprehensive section on Money, Tax and Benefits. Visit the website to find out if you are entitled to any disability benefits.

Citizens Advice Bureau – Offer advice on many subjects, including welfare and disability benefits.

Those residing in Scotland should contact Citizens Advice Scotland.

 

Royal Navy Family & People Support (RN FPS) Information Office

Your local RN FPS Information Office is another excellent source of information regarding educational support agencies in your community.

 

Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS)

The Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) has been established specifically for Service families. It is aware of the unique circumstances of Service families and can offer information, advice and support on all aspects of a child/young person’s education within the UK and overseas. You can contact CEAS on: 01980 618244 or e-mail them at: rc-dcs-hq-ceas@mod.uk. CEAS is part of the Directorate Children and Young People; the MOD’s tri-Service lead for the delivery of statutory services for children and young people within the Armed Forces community worldwide.

 

Important Information for Parents and Schools regarding changes to the Special Educational Needs Addition to the MOD Continuity of Education Allowance

The MOD regulations for the Special Educational Needs Addition to the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA (SENA)) and CEA (SENA)(Day) have been revised with effect from January 2017; important changes which parents and schools should be aware of have been listed below including a list of frequently asked questions.

If further advice is required please contact CEAS by email: rc-dcs-hq-ceas@mod.gov.uk or telephone: 01980 618244.

  • The aim of Continuity of Education Allowance (Special Educational Needs Addition) (CEA (SENA)) is to contribute towards the additional costs associated with a specific support plan for an individual service child who has a level of Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) which cannot reasonably be met within the expected resources of a school.
  • The previous SENA system defined Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) as solely being ‘Dyslexia’. The new sections have been updated so that SEND is defined in terms as used by other government departments such as the Department for Education.
  • School generated information is required to evidence the level of a child’s special needs. School staff have the experience and knowledge of individual children and should be the best source of detailed information, collected over time, as to an individual child.
  • State boarding schools already work within the existing SEND Code of Practice and therefore SEND provision within those schools is easily understood as well as it being inspected by Ofsted
  • Independent schools other than Independent Special Schools are not bound by the SEND Code of Practice but do work with the duties outlined by the 2010 Equality Act – which requires all schools to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ when working with a child with special educational and/or additional needs
  • The requirement within the January 17 JSP 752 (version 29) regulations is that all SENA applications will now use the revised application paperwork and include a detailed individualised support plan for the child, articulated by the school and clearly outlining what the school can provide and also what the school believes is beyond what is ‘reasonable’ to provide from their existing resources
  • The application process will therefore have a more transparent focus on any potential gap between what the independent school does provide and what they believe should be provided through additional funding.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

If SENA is changing, will I have to re-apply now, although my eligibility is still valid for some time yet?

SENA has always been a time limited allowance and that will not change with the revised arrangements. As before it will be the case that each eligibility certificate will have an end date. The SENA application process can take between 4-12 weeks and that is the same whether it is a new application or a renewal application. Decisions on renewals are taken based on the evidence that is provided. There are times when the evidence provided by the school is not clear enough to make a decision and in those cases we may request that the school gives better detail – hence why it can take up to 12 weeks to reach a decision.

If you intend to apply for a renewal of SENA then it is best to do so 12 weeks before the expiry date on your current certificate. In the meantime it is also best to make sure that your child’s school is capturing the information that it should be doing routinely, i.e. the interventions that they are using and their rationale for what they are doing, the outcomes and progress of those interventions for your child.

 

My child has no history of SEND. Will I be able to apply for SENA as he has just started boarding school and they think they may have discovered he has a need?

SEN can and does emerge at different ages and can take many and varied forms. Not all SEND requires an allowance to support the child’s needs, since much SEN related support should be routine for good schools and good teachers to be delivering as part of their practice. Decisions as to whether or not a child’s SEN is complex enough to require additional funding can only be taken based on the quality of the information provided. That information includes information specific to your child but it also includes information on what the school is doing and what they think that they should be doing differently for your child. That kind of information takes time to generate as every child is different and schools may work in different ways.

If your child has just started boarding school then it will take time for that school to collate the information that they would like to present which has led them to believe that your child has SEND and that it is complex enough to require something that they do not routinely provide. In the meantime it would also be useful for you to obtain information from your child’s previous school as to what they understood as to how your child presented in that school. That would help us to be able to understand any potential future application for SENA.

 

Under the Equality Act 2010 schools should be making reasonable adjustments – what does this mean?

Reasonable adjustments are those steps that schools have a duty to take to avoid ‘substantial disadvantage’ for pupils with a disability. The term ‘disability’ itself is also one that needs explanation and there are many resources online which explain these terms in more detail for example here.

Many adjustments are about changes in practice rather than to do with provision of anything expensive. A simple example would be a pupil with a visual impairment, who may require information printed in a larger font and it is entirely reasonable for a teacher to print any hand outs in a way that the pupil can readily access. Differentiating the curriculum means that pupils in the same class may have information and teaching presented to them in slightly different ways within the same class and that would also be a reasonable adjustment. In the state sector a school is expected to provide additional services to pupils with SEND up to the first £6,000 of provision. While that same expectation is not applied to the independent sector, who can and do charge parents directly for various services, the SEND allowance decision process expects that a range of adjustments have already been made by the independent school before the parents are encouraged to apply for SENA.

 

Why is the SENA process changing?

The SEND system has evolved significantly over recent years. The level of skill and expectation for all teachers has risen and it is expected now that all teachers are teachers of children with SEND. The old system where by a child with SEND was removed from main stream classes to be taught separately, often in specialist units or special schools changed many years ago with the move towards better inclusion.

The 2017 update of the SENA process brings the allowance into a more current and evidence based system, where the allowance is available to support SEND on a case by case basis rather than it being tightly ring fenced to only one aspect of SEND. The change in the process will also allow a better body of information to be generated by school staff so that it includes information on the child themselves but also builds evidence of what additional support has been delivered and what works for that child.

 

Will the new process take longer for me to receive the payments?

The process of payments remains the same which requires you to have a current SENA eligibility certificate and to process your claims in the usual way. Decisions on eligibility will take between 4-12 weeks and will always been significantly quicker if the information from the school regarding your child’s needs and the plan for how they are providing for those needs or will provide for them in the future is presented with detail and clarity. The updated application form will help guide the schools in how they need to record and present information and CEAS is always available to guide you as parents in the questions and requests that you can be asking of the school.

 

Posted on: 12th May, 2016
Last updated on: 17th September, 2021

Introduction

Finding suitable childcare for your children can be tricky, but there are lots of ways to help you find different types of childcare in your area.  If you are looking to put your child into childcare for the first time or are due to move and need to change childcare setting, we advise that you identify suitable childcare options as soon as possible and establish if there are spaces or whether there is a waiting list. We recommend putting your child’s name down for a place or onto a waiting list as soon as your child is born or as soon as you have had a move confirmed.

If you are moving be sure to give your current nursery/childcare setting plenty of notice that you are leaving so that you do not incur any additional costs.  If you claim the government funded free hours for 3-4 year olds you will also have to change the details of the setting that you are claiming from.

 

Find out more about childcare for Service children here.

Finding childcare

Each local authority is responsible to ensuring that there is enough suitable childcare provision in their area.  Most local authorities have a childcare directory on their council websites which will list all of the OFSTED registered local nurseries, preschools, childminders and playgroups.

Local childcare services and directories can be found via the search facility on the GOV.UK site:
There are a number of other websites offering support to find childcare options in your area:
  • childcare.co.uk is the UK’s largest online, government-endorsed childcare platform.
  • Childminders in England and Wales can be located from the Government website here.
  • Before and after school and holiday clubs in England and Wales can be found here.
  • In Scotland, you can here to find a nursery or childcare place.
  • The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) website offers helpful advice about choosing childcare, as well as information for people considering childminding as a career here.
Inspection reports for approved childcare providers can be found via the following websites:

Approved childcare can also include care provided by a maintained or independent school that is registered with the relevant inspection body. If your child is over 5, the childcare must be outside school hours and on the school premises.

Childcare costs

The government has a website that provides information on of the different childcare support options that are available to you for children aged 0-16. The Childcare Choices website includes information and links on where to apply for tax-free childcare offers. You must use ‘approved childcare’ settings to qualify for help. Click here for a step-by-step guidance. Click here for an information pack from HMRC.

For more information on what level of childcare support you may be eligible for, there is childcare calculator available here.

Statutory Provision
England

15 and 30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds; 30 hours for working parents.

All 3 to 4-year-olds in England can get free early education or childcare.

Some 2-year-olds are also eligible for 15 hours free childcare, for example if you get certain benefits.

The free early education and childcare:

  • must be with an approved childcare provider
  • stops when your child starts in reception class (or reaches compulsory school age, if later)

Find out more and apply here.

Scotland

Up to 1,140 hours of funded early learning and childcare a year (around 30 hours a week in term time), if your child is 3 or 4 years old. You may be able to get more funded hours in your area. Visit mygov.scot for further details.

Some 2-year-olds are also eligible for free childcare, for example if you get certain benefits.

Find out more and get a link to your council to claim your funded place here.

A parents’ guide to early learning and childcare in Scotland was produced by Audit Scotland to help to provide clearer information to families.  You can find it here.

Wales

Up to 30 hours a week of childcare or early education if your child is 3 or 4 years old.

For eligibility and more information, click here.

 Northern Ireland

Tax-Free Childcare or childcare vouchers – Find out more here.

Wraparound childcare (WAC)

The Naval Families Federation has been at the forefront of raising awareness of the childcare challenges for serving families since it carried out its first childcare survey in 2016, and its follow-up survey in 2021 (click here to access the report). We are very grateful to everyone who responded so generously with their time and thoughts. You have allowed us to represent your experiences with authority and in detail to the Government, the Royal Navy and other stakeholders.

We were delighted that the announcement was made of a new offer of free ‘wraparound’ childcare.

The pilots were rolled out from September 2020 RAF High Wycombe and RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire were the first bases to offer the scheme, with Service personnel based in Catterick and Plymouth able to access the pilot scheme from January 2021. Applications to these are now closed. The pilot was expanded in September 2021 to include a Lincolnshire Cluster and a Woolwich Cluster (note: applications will close on 31 May 2022). At least 1 parent has to be an Armed Forces Regular and both parents have to be in paid employment. Further details can be found here.

While we very warmly welcome this news, we are aware that wraparound care is only one aspect of this complex issue. We will continue to work hard to represent your experiences and challenges in all areas of childcare. Please watch our website and social media channels for further development of the pilot scheme.

MOD Childcare vouchers

The MOD Childcare vouchers are available to Service personnel. The scheme is now closed to new entrants. For those that are already registered it enables you to convert part of your salary into vouchers before your usual tax and NI contributions are taken. This means that you only have to pay the tax and NI on what’s left, saving you up to £933 per year. Find out more here. Childcare vouchers may affect the amount of tax credits you get. Find out more about whether you would be better off taking childcare vouchers, and or applying for Tax-Free Childcare by checking here.

Childcare provided by relatives

England/Scotland –

You can only get help paying for childcare by a relative (for example a grandparent) if:

  • they’re a registered childminder and care for your child outside your home
  • you’re paying them using Universal Credit, tax credits or childcare vouchers
  • You can’t get help for childcare provided by your partner or paid for by the free early education and childcare scheme.

Northern Ireland –

You can only get help paying for childcare provided by a relative if all of the following apply:

  • they’re in a childcare approval scheme in Northern Ireland
  • they care for your child outside your home
  • they care for at least one other child that isn’t related to you

If you live in Wales –

You can’t get help paying for childcare provided by a relative.

Childcare support in emergency/crisis

The Naval Children’s Charity can offer financial support towards childcare costs in times of emergency or family crisis.  If you need help with extra childcare support, if for instance one child is in hospital which means you need help with your other children outside of your usual childcare or if your family is experiencing marital difficulties or breakdown, the NCC can help.  They are on hand to help you to ensure that your children feel more settled, particularly if moving to a new home or if you are unable to look after them in an emergency situation.  They are generally able to respond to an emergency situation within a couple of hours.

 

Phone: Monday – Friday 0800-1600,  02392 639534

Email: caseworkers@navalchildrenscharity.org.uk

 

Private fostering (eg during deployment)

Are you are deploying or working away for more than 28 days, and organising childcare with someone who is not your child’s parent? Please check the regulations regarding private fostering.  If an individual is looking after someone else’s child for more than 28 days they must notify their local council – failure to do so is a criminal offence.  You can find out more about Private Fostering here.

 

The law on leaving your child on their own

Government guidance is here. The NSPCC has produced a guide to help you to decide when it is safe for your child to be home on their own, and what you can do if they are too young. Find out more here.

Extended free childcare overseas

In overseas locations, MOD provides services (or access to services) that, so far conform in type, scope and standard to that required by legislation in England (but paying due regard to the equivalent legislation in the Devolved Administrations).

The 2006 Childcare Act introduced 15 hours of childcare per week for 38 weeks of the year for 3 and 4 year olds free of charge. In overseas locations the MOD currently delivers this entitlement through places at MOD-provided settings or through access to the MOD Overseas Nursery Allowance.

From 01 September 2017, there has been an extension of the entitlement and an offer of an additional 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year of free childcare for children that are eligible. The additional 15 hours are available to families where either parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family) a minimum of 16 hours each per week. Parents each earning £100,000 or more do not qualify for the additional entitlement.

Entitlement

The additional entitlement was introduced on 1 September 2017 across England and is mirrored in MOD locations overseas, using the same eligibility criteria defined under the 2016 Childcare Act above. In overseas locations where the MOD-provided settings have sufficient capacity, the additional entitlement will be provided through those settings, free of charge. Free childcare cannot be claimed when using childminders or nannies. In overseas locations where there are no MOD-provided settings, or where MOD-provided settings lack sufficient capacity, the additional entitlement will be provided through the MOD Overseas Nursery Allowance. The entitlement applies to eligible Service Personnel and entitled Civilians only. The latter means UK Based Civil Servants posted overseas or Specially Recruited for Overseas Service.  Fee-paying contractors cannot apply.

Eligibility criteria for the additional 15 hours

The MOD currently delivers, 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year, free early education to all Regular Service Personnel, Reserve Personnel undertaking Full Time Reserve Service (Full Commitment) (FTRS FC) and entitled Civilians who are assigned overseas where they are accompanied by their eligible children, through places at MOD-provided settings or through access to the MOD Overseas Nursery Allowance. In order to be eligible for the additional 15 hours of free childcare each parent must be working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family) a minimum of 16 hours each per week. These limits are measured for eligibility purposes on average over a period of three months on a reasonable expectation basis. In order to be eligible for the additional 15 hours of free childcare, the maximum income per parent is £100,000 per annum. For Dependants working overseas who pay Income Tax to HMRC or devolved equivalents, confirmation of eligibility is required from their employer (DBS). For Dependants working overseas as Locally Engaged Civilians (LECs) not paying Income Tax to HMRC or devolved equivalents, it will be the responsibility of the local Command through the LEC employer or agency, to confirm their eligibility. Dependants working overseas on the local economy will be required to provide proof from their employer in order to confirm their eligibility.

Posted on: 12th May, 2016
Last updated on: 24th May, 2022