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Primary and Secondary Education

Primary and Secondary Education

Introduction

In the UK, responsibility for the making of education law and guidance has been devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Irish Assemblies. In England, legislative responsibility for education continues to lie solely with the UK Parliament at Westminster.

The formal devolution of statutory responsibility for education law to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has emphasised existing differences and continued to establish further ones.

These differences can be summarised under the following headings:

  • age ranges of phases of education;
  • examination and assessment systems;
  • curricular structure and content;
  • admission systems;
  • statutory approaches to meeting children’s special educational/ additional support needs;
  • funding routes and arrangements for higher education.

Overseas education for Armed Forces families is dependent on the area to which you are assigned.

Please also take a look at Joint Service Publication 342, which provides policy and guidance for the education of Service children and young people.

The Naval Families Federation is working hard to remove disadvantage to families in the provision of education. We work closely with the MOD’s Armed Forces Families & Safeguarding (AFFS) and Defence Children Services (DCS) and other stakeholders to achieve this aim. Your feedback is extremely valuable to us in carrying out this work, so please do get in touch and let us know about your experiences.

1. Primary & Secondary Education
Defence Children Services (DCS)
Front cover of the UK EAT leaflet (Nov 22)

Click to view a leaflet about the EAT.

The department formerly known as CEAS is now part of Defence Children Services (DCS) and is divided into two parts – the UK Education Advisory Team (EAT) and the Overseas Education and Supportability Team (OEST).

 

The EAT are a small team, who are experienced in advising Service parents on a wide range of issues regarding the education of Service children in the UK whereas the OEST are their counterpart that cover overseas education. EAT are also the first port of call for people considering an application for Continuity of Education Allowance.

Devolved administrations
  • England

The national curriculum sets out the programmes of study and attainment targets for all subjects at all 4 key stages in England. All local-authority-maintained schools in England teach these programmes of study.

Find out more about the English curriculum system and an overview of the key stages and assessments in the English education system.

 

  • Scotland

Education is devolved to the Scottish Government, which means that the Scottish Government has the power to introduce new laws, curricula, and guidelines on education within Scotland. An overview of the Scottish education system can be found. Click here to access a school toolkit produced Forces Children’s Education. The Scottish Government has also produced a useful guide for Service personnel and their families moving to Scotland.

Here is an overview of the system in Scotland, with comparisons to England and Wales and a poster outlining the Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) system, used by schools in Scotland to support the wellbeing of all children and young people.

 

  • Wales

A new curriculum has been developed and is being phased in for settings and schools in Wales. It will be used throughout Wales by the end of 2022.

Find out more about the new school curriculum.

You can find out more about how Service children are supported in Wales by visiting Supporting Service Children in Education Wales. Click the link to access a school toolkit produced by the SSCE. This Service Family guide gives information about the new curriculum and examinations and assessments.

 

  • Northern Ireland

The MOD has some introductory information about education in Northern Ireland.

More detailed information about the curriculum and assessment.

We have also provided a useful summary of the curriculum in Northern Ireland and the key differences from other areas of the UK.

Overseas Education

If you are offered an overseas assignment, you will have to look carefully into the education available for your children. Please refer to gov.uk for further information. Please also see our guidance on unaccompanied minor flights.

Elective Home Education

Home education is legal throughout the UK and has been for many decades. It is a positive long-term choice for some families. It can also be an option for families who are moving between areas and seeking to avoid starting a child in a school for a short period of time (for example when a child is on a waiting list, or if you are just about to be reassigned after the start of a school year). The legal position in the four countries of the UK is not identical.

 

  • England & Wales

According to the 1996 Education Act in England and Wales, parents (not the state) are responsible for providing their children’s education ‘at school or otherwise’. Education must be suitable for the age, ability and aptitude of each child. Find out more about home education from the gov.uk website and from Education Otherwise.

 

  • Scotland

‘Schoolhouse is Scotland’s national home education support charity. It is a well-established and well-respected source of independent information and support for anyone interested in home education.

 

  • Northern Ireland

‘Home Education Northern Ireland’ is an inclusive group for home educators and their communities in Northern Ireland, and was recently involved in coordinating the response to the consultation on the Draft Policy on Elective Home Education published by the five Boards there.

 

  • Overseas

If your family is either considering, or currently delivering, home education overseas, you should refer to the Elective Home Education Overseas Parental Guidance (November 2021). This includes important information guidance and direction, including the requirement to contact Overseas Education and Supportability Team at RC-DCS-HQ-OES@mod.gov.uk when considering an overseas assignment and before any firm decision on elective home education is made. This guide can be accessed from the DIN Library (2023DIN01-105). Please note this DIN replaces the policy contained JSP 342. Please also see our Overseas Education page for further information.

Boarding school and Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA)

Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) is offered by the MOD to assist with funding a place in boarding school to help to provide continuity of education for a child.

In claiming CEA, a Service person must fully accept that accompanied service is the overriding principle for maintaining entitlement. An exception to this requirement is when a Service person is classified as Involuntarily Separated (INVOLSEP).

Please see section 6 below for full details.

 

  • State Boarding School

Parents of boarders at state boarding schools pay only the cost of boarding, as the education is free. If you are considering enrolling your child(ren) in a state boarding school, the State Boarding Schools’ Association has further information.

 

  • Further Information

To find out more, please check out the guidance from EAT (formerly part CEAS*). The UK EAT will be able to provide you with a copy of the Boarding School Database, on request. Further information about eligibility is in Joint Service Publication 752, Chapter 14. To check your eligibility and to apply, contact your Unit Personnel Office.

*Please note: CEAS is in the process of updating gov.uk to reflect its restructure. The information on the NFF website is correct as of May 2022.

 

  • Continuity of Education Allowance (Guardians)

The aim of Continuity of Education Allowance (Guardians) (CEA (Guardians)) is to financially assist Service parents who elect to place their child in the care of a guardian so that the child may continue to attend a particular day school. The allowance is intended to contribute to the additional costs of a child maintaining contact with its family when they are living away from the family home. The allowance is not intended to cover any costs for accommodation, education or welfare.

An eligible guardian is any person in whose care a child is placed to enable them to remain at a particular day school that the child could not attend if resident with their claimant parent. In this context, guardianship is deemed to exist if the claimant arranges private accommodation for the child, e.g., with a relative, friend, in rented accommodation, or in a YMCA or similar privately-run hostel. The safety and security of each child is the responsibility of the parents in such an arrangement. For full details of the allowance and of eligibility, see JSP 752 Chapter 14 Section 5.

Pastoral Support and the Service Pupil Premium

Pastoral Support and the Service Pupil Premium

Schools have a responsibility to provide appropriate individualised care and pastoral support for all children. We receive many enquiries about this, particularly from parents who are concerned about how this works across the devolved nations, or who feel that their school could be providing more effective support. Please see section 2 for further information.

Further support
  • Visit our page to find a list of organisations that can support your young person’s education, including funding.
  • Click to find out more about resources/projects available to support parents/carers.
2. Pastoral Support and the Service Pupil Premium (SPP)

Schools have a responsibility to provide appropriate individualised care and pastoral support for all children. We receive many enquiries about this, particularly from parents who are concerned about how this works across the devolved nations, or who feel that their school could be providing more effective support. We love to hear from people who have experienced great support so that we can showcase examples of effective practice. Please contact us if your child’s school is doing something we can share to improve practice in other schools.

England

The Service Pupil Premium (SPP) is extra funding for schools in England to support children and young people with parents in the Armed Forces. In order for your child to be eligible, you need to inform your child(ren)’s school of your (or your partner’s) Service status before the annual school census, which is the first Thursday in October every year.

Key facts:

  • The SPP is provided by the Department for Education (DfE), to State maintained schools, Free Schools and Academies in England who have children of Regular Armed Forces personnel among their pupil population to provide additional (mainly pastoral) support. Children of parents on Full Time Reserve Service (Full Commitment) also attract SPP.
  • Schools can claim for both SPP and PP for the same child. Guidance from the DfE is: ‘If they meet the criteria for both then they are entitled to both. A proportion of Service pupils have been receiving both for some time.’
  • The SPP is currently £335 per Service pupil and is paid directly to schools. It is not transferable between schools and does not move with the pupil when they leave the school.
  • Schools with Service children in Reception to Year 11 classes are eligible to receive the fund, but only if your child(ren)’s name appears on the school’s roll as being a Service child. This is why it’s of utmost importance for you to ensure that you have informed the school of your Service status.
  • A child will continue to attract SPP funding for up to a maximum of 6 years after the serving person has left the Service or at the end of Year 11, whichever comes first. Please be reminded to inform the school if the parent has left the Service.
  • It is possible for step children to receive SPP provided that you meet the criteria.

For more information on eligibility please see the Government website. Or you can email: Armed Forces Families & Safeguarding (AFFS – Formely DCYP): People-AFFS-Mailbox@mod.gov.uk.

Resources

Scotland

There is no Service Pupil Premium for Service children living in Scotland, but the Scottish government strategy for school funding takes into account factors such as deprivation, mobility and under achievement. Service families can register their status with their schools, so that the child’s record is flagged with an indicator. When Service families register, clusters of mobile families are highlighted and this attracts more funding for the school, which may be used to provide support.

Forces Children Scotland (formerly The Royal Caledonian Education Trust) is Scotland’s Armed Forces charity, and works with schools and families to help children to thrive. Find out more about their work.

Wales

The Service Pupil Premium is not available in Wales. SSCE Cymru provide information on funding available to schools and LAs.

Northern Ireland

Service children in Northern Ireland receive additional support under the provisions of the Common Funding Scheme. Qualifying pupils are those pupils in primary and post-primary schools whose father or mother is:

  • a member of the UK Armed Forces;
  • not normally resident in Northern Ireland;
  • assigned to Northern Ireland for a period scheduled to last no less than 2 years.

More information about education in Northern Ireland can be found on the Department of Education Northern Ireland website or Information about the Common Funding Scheme can be found here.

3. Education Support Fund (ESF) and Armed Forces Families Fund (AF3)

The ESF, launched in 2011, provided funding to assist publicly funded schools, Academies and Free Schools throughout the UK to mitigate the effects of exceptional mobility and/or separation of their Service communities; Regular Armed Forces, including Reserves on Full Time commitment (FTRS FC).

Following the launch of the Families Strategy in January 2022, the MOD created a dedicated fund in aid of the delivery against the eight themes of the strategy, including education and childcare.

From 1st September 2022, the fund will be known as ‘Armed Forces Families Fund (AF3)’ – this is an amalgamation of the ESF and the Early Learning and Childcare Support Fund (ELCF), broadening their scope in support of the delivery of the AF Families Strategy in its entirety. It is a partnership between the MOD and the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, who will administrate this fund.

For further guidance and to check details of current open programmes, please visit the Trust’s website.

4. Admissions and Appeal

Finding the right school for your child, and securing a place, can be challenging for any family, but Armed Forces families moving area can face additional hurdles if the school of their choice is oversubscribed. The Armed Forces Covenant will not automatically secure you a place at your school of choice, but it will help to make sure that you are not disadvantaged compared to civilian families.

If you have a particular problem with admissions to schools, please contact the Education Advisorty Team* (formerly CEAS) by email RC-DCS-HQ-EAT@mod.gov.uk to seek advice. If you would like to provide feedback to the NFF about your admissions issue, so that we can represent your experience to effect change, please email contactus@nff.org.uk.

*Please note: CEAS is in the process of updating gov.uk to reflect its restructure. The information on the NFF website is correct as of May 2022.

Admissions
  • England and Wales

You must apply for a place at a school, even if it’s linked to your child’s current nursery or primary school. The way you apply depends on whether you’re applying for a primary or a secondary school place. You should apply in the same way if you have just moved to England or Wales or are applying from abroad. Contact the council if you’re applying for a school place after the start of the school year (eg changing schools).

Applications open on different days in each local council area – usually at the start of the autumn term of the year before your child is due to start school. Find out from your local council when applications open, and the deadlines for primary or secondary schools. If you are unable to apply for a school place by the deadline because of an assignment, let the council know as soon as you can, if necessary using your unit address.

  • Scotland

Information on finding schools and the process can be found on the Parentzone Scotland website.  To make an application, contact the local council.

  • Northern Ireland

Separate procedures exist for admission to pre-school (2-4 years), primary (4-11 years) and post-primary (11-18 years) education. You can find out how to enrol your child here.

Appeals

All schools have admission criteria to decide which children get places. The school or local council usually set these. If you have not been able to get your child into your school of choice, there will be an appeal process which you can follow.

5. Term Time Absence

Deployment commitments have always meant difficulty for Royal Naval and Royal Marines families trying to tie in leave dates with school holidays.

 

Since September 2013, by law, headteachers are only able to grant requests for leave during term time in “exceptional circumstances”. In July 2015, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) released additional advice for headteachers regarding school term time absence for the children of Armed Forces personnel, stating: The educational needs of Service children affected will always be a critical factor when determining whether term-time absence should be granted.

 

As well as operational tours overseas or afloat, there are many situations where the unusual and often unpredictable demands of life in the Armed Forces may prevent Service families taking holidays together outside term time, which should be considered.

 

However as with all children, the decision on whether to authorise term-time holidays for the children of Service personnel sits solely with the Head Teacher of their school.

 

Separate advice should be provided to Service families explaining how they should present evidence when requesting absence during term-time, and reminding them firmly that the educational needs of their child(ren) will remain of great importance.

 

To assist headteachers in making their decisions on absence applications, Unit Commanding Officers and their Welfare Staff will be able to provide advice, verification and endorsement as required.

 

If Head Teachers are unsure how to make contact with the relevant Armed Forces unit they should contact the MOD’s Armed Forces Families & Safeguarding (AFFS – Formely DCYP): People-AFFS-Mailbox@mod.gov.uk.

 

Click to read the MOD’s ‘School Term Time Absence for Children of Service Personnel Guidance in full.

6. Moving Schools
  • Moving schools packs for parents and schools

These packs can be used by parents and schools to supplement the information that schools must transfer by law. You can personalise the pack by using the sheets you find most useful, or you can add others that you think will help the school to know more about your child. The activity pack is aimed at children aged 6 to 11 years old, but you may want to adapt some of the ideas for your own child.

Download a copy of the moving school pack and pupil passport.

  • Common Transfer File – transferring between and from schools in England

The Naval Families Federation has been asking for better information transfer for Service pupils moving between schools, in response to feedback from families. The Common Transfer File (CTF), which is used by schools and local authorities to send pupil data whenever a pupil moves from one school to another in England, has been updated. This improves the information being transferred and helps to identify children who may need support as a result of their Service connection. It is not an extra form for schools to complete but a normal part of their practice.

It now contains a ‘flag’ which is used to identify a child’s Service status.

It also asks for four data items for Service children:

    • “Does the school have any concerns about the child’s response to moving school?”
    • “Does the school have any concerns about the child’s response to parental deployment?”
    • “Does the school have any concerns about the child’s response to parental separation?” (This field should be used to record concerns that the school has about Service children being separated from their parents due to extended training periods or other forms of duty.)
    • “Details about concerns”: this is a free text box in which the school can include further details about their concerns. The school may wish to include, in this free text section, contact details to assist in the integration of the new pupils.

The CTF system will be configured so that when a CTF is received by a school with the Service Child flag set to ‘Yes’, an alert will be automatically raised asking that a) the head teacher or appropriate member of staff should be informed of the identity of the Service child joining the school; and b) where the “concerns” section (described above) has not been completed, that the appropriate member of staff be informed and advised to contact the CTF sending school for clarification.

We would be interested to hear from families about their experiences of information transfer between schools. We are very aware that there are differences between the English system, the Devolved Governments and overseas provision. Do contact us and let us know about the challenges you have experienced, and also about examples of really effective practice.

7. Continuity of Education Allowance

Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) is offered by the MOD to assist with funding a place in boarding school in order to help to provide continuity of education for a child.

Eligibility

In claiming CEA, a Service person must fully accept that accompanied service is the overriding principle for maintaining entitlement. An exception to this requirement is when a Service person is classified as Involuntarily Separated (INVOLSEP).

CEA is available for children aged eight years and over. If your child has Special Education Needs or Disability (SEND), this should not prevent their admission to a boarding school, and an allowance for SEN support may be available in some circumstances.

Children for whom CEA is being claimed must be placed in their correct chronological year group. If a school suggests that a child be placed, on entry to the school, in the year behind (or in front of) their correct year group, advice and authority for this must be sought from the Education Advisory Team* (formerly CEAS) before the placement is accepted, as this may affect your eligibility to claim CEA. Advice and authority must also be sought from the Education Advisory Team* if a child is placed in the year behind or asked to repeat a year in a school they are already attending.

You are expected to contribute a minimum of 10% towards the fees. The fees are only part of the costs of attending a boarding school and so it is important to be clear about any extras the school charges for.

To find out more, check out the guidance from the Education Advisory Team* (formerly CEAS). Further information about eligibility is in Joint Service Publication 752 (Chapter 14). To check your eligibility and to apply, contact your Unit Personnel Office.

*Please note: CEAS is in the process of updating gov.uk to reflect its restructure. The information on the NFF website is correct as of May 2022.

CEA (Guardians)

The aim of Continuity of Education Allowance (Guardians) (CEA (Guardians)) is to financially assist Service parents who elect to place their child in the care of a guardian so that the child may continue to attend a particular day school. The allowance is intended to contribute to the additional costs of a child maintaining contact with its family when it is living away from the family home. The allowance is not intended to cover any costs for accommodation, education or welfare.

An eligible guardian is any person in whose care a child is placed to enable them to remain at a particular day school that the child could not attend if resident with their claimant parent. In this context, guardianship is deemed to exist if the claimant arranges private accommodation for the child, e.g., with a relative, friend, in rented accommodation, or in a YMCA or similar privately-run hostel. The safety and security of each child is the responsibility of the parents in such an arrangement. For full details of the allowance and of eligibility, see JSP 752 (Chapter 14 Section 5).

8. Teaching Resources
CPD resources for schools

A review of all current CPD resources for schools.

The Experience of Parental Absence in Royal Navy and Royal Marines Families

The Experience of Parental Absence in Royal Navy and Royal Marines Families

Our guide to supporting children and families, as endorsed in the Living in Our Shoes report, can be downloaded free at our family resources page.

Thriving Lives Toolkit

Underpinned by rigorous research and thoroughly tested in school, the free Thriving Lives Toolkit provides schools with a framework of 7 principles through which to reflect on their practice and a 3 tier set of CPD resources. The resources in this toolkit have been developed in collaboration with a range of partners across the UK, and consist of:

  • an introductory animation;
  • a detailed resource introducing the evidence base, what schools can do to support their Service children and who can help and;
  • school case studies.

 

This toolkit is available as a downloadable resource as well as an online interactive platform.

Armed Forces Day

Learning resources for schools wishing to show their support for Armed Forces Day, including assembly plans and teachers’ notes for both primary and secondary schools.

Posted on: 11th May, 2022
Updated on: 6th December 2023