School’s Out!

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Are your children currently enrolled in an ‘on-base’ school? What options are there once you all return to civilian life? 

From Civvy Street Magazine #46 (April 2014), Words: Paul F. Cockburn

During the resettlement process, most talk of “education” refers to the steps you take to ensure that you step back onto civvy street with the appropriate qualifications for your new career. If you have children, however, education takes on a different meaning; ensuring that their schooling is disrupted as little as possible. This can be particularly daunting if your offspring are currently attending one of the Service Children’s Education (SCE) schools found in British Military bases in Germany, Cyprus and elsewhere.

We won’t lie to you; any planned return to the UK is challenging, but at least the issues have gained official recognition. The MoD’s Directorate of Children and Young People leads on an Education of Service Children Change Programme, including a range of projects focusing on the move of Service children from SCE schools overseas back to the UK, and the needs of those when their Military parents have begun their resettlement.

An invaluable source of information is the Children’s Education Advisory Service, which can offer advice on a wide range of issues including the different educational systems operating in each of the UK’s “home nations”.

Remember that the core principle of the UK Government’s Armed Forces Covenant (that Services personnel and their families shouldn’t face any disadvantages compared to their civilian peers when accessing services from the likes of Government departments, the NHS, and local authorities) also applies to veterans and their families. So, if you’re looking at settling in a particular area, get in touch with the relevant local educational body to find out what you can; they may even have a designated “Armed Forces Champion” within their ranks to assist you.

BOARDING SCHOOL

You may have opted to settle your children in boarding school: partly in order to avoid the repeated disruption and lack of continuity arising from them changing school every few years as you moved from one location to the next; but mostly on the grounds of the school’s culture, traditions and ethos. Leaving the Armed Forces, in itself, is unlikely to change those reasons.

If you and your child/children are happy to stick with the school, then the only real question is whether you can still afford it, not least because you will no longer have access to any of the allowances given to eligible serving Personnel by the MoD. It’s possible that you and your children may be eligible for either means-tested bursaries or scholarships; advice on that can come from the school itself, CEAS and bodies such as the Educational Grants Advisory Service and the Educational Trusts’ Forum.

MORE:

Children’s Education Advisory Service – 01980 618244, www.gov.uk/childrens-education-advisory-service

Educational Grants Advisory Service/Family Welfare Association – 020 7254 6251, www.egas-online.org.uk

Educational Trusts’ Forum – www.educational-grants.org

Independent Schools Council – www.isc.co.uk/find-a-school/faqs.htm

Veterans UK – 0808 1914 218, www.veterans-uk.info

Veterans Scotland – 0131 550 1569, www.veteransscotland.co.uk

Photo credit: Alamy