Service children's education

Education and childcare


Children can face specific and unique challenges arising from their parent’s service in the RAF. Most of these challenges are due to mobility or separation and deployment associated with service life. New assignments often result in the family moving to a new location. For parents, finding suitable childcare or school places can be challenging. For children settling into a new setting, making new friends and continuity of their education can be issues. Parents of children with special educational needs may face particular challenges to find suitable and appropriate provision to meet their children’s needs.  

However, many service children are acknowledged as resilient, adaptable and independent and achieve well in academic outcomes. 

Education is a devolved responsibility and separate systems and regulations govern early years and education provision in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. See the information on the devolved administration systems later on these pages and you may find these comparison tables of the different school years and curriculums and education across the UK useful. You can find more information on Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in our ‘regional’ sections and as an introduction, you might find our Briefing Notes useful. 

Information and research reports about service children’s education 

The Royal British Legion has produced a best practice guide focusing on Service children in school in England. They also have a guide focusing on Service children in school in Wales with a Welsh language version.

Kin and Country: Growing Up as an Armed Forces Child –
A report from the Children’s Commissioner for England.

The education of Service children: findings of a National Audit Office consultation April 2013.

Increasingly families are choosing to settle in one place – so called ‘Dispersed’ families, with spouse and children living separately to a serving person.  This can bring its own challenges for children.  The Naval Families Federation worked with Kings College on a piece of research in this area and published a useful guide for families in this situation. Whilst based on RN/RM families it has applicability to all families in this situation – you can find information on the research and download the guide on their website.

Who’s, Who in the world of Service children’s education

Directorate of Children and Young People

DCYP is the focal point within the MOD for all matters relating to service children and young people including responsibility for provision of education overseas. Visit their site to access information on moving schools, education in the UK for service children, childcare and higher education as well as education overseas and safeguarding. 

DCYP Bites – Policy on a Page

DCYP have produced a series of really helpful factsheets on education and childcare policies.  They provide a useful guide on a range of topics, relevant across the UK and overseas, and include contact details and web links for further information.  Have a look at the fact sheets here and let us know if they are helpful!

Overseas Nursery Authority (ONA)
Service Pupil Premium (SPP)
Term time absence for Service children
Tax-Free Childcare (TFC)
Universal Infant Free School Meals
Admissible stationery items usually provided free of charge in English primary schools
Free Early Years Childcare Entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds

Children’s Education Advisory Service

CEAS is part of DCYP and are a small team who provide information and advice to service parents on a wide range of issues regarding the education of service children. This includes schools admissions, SEND provision, Continuity of Education Allowance and boarding schools, overseas education. Their telephone number is 01980 618244 or email on [email protected].

Their latest guide to making the most of their support is available online.

DCYP CEAS Leaflet Cover

CEAS Hints and Tips

Sue Smyth, Team Leader at CEAS, wrote an article in our Envoy magazine (page 26-27) with advice on working with CEAS.

All forms and advice sheets from DCYP and CEAS are available on the GOV.UK website.

Service Children’s Progression Alliance (SCIP)

The Service Children’s Progression (SCiP)  Alliance is a partnership of organisations including the RAF Families Federation focused on improving outcomes for children from military families across the UK.  It is funded by the Ministry of Defence (MOD).  RAF FF sit on the Board and Steering group, representing RAF families and children and young people. 

The SCiP Alliance’s Mission is to:  Champion the progression of the children of serving personnel, so that they can make informed and confident transitions through further and higher education into thriving adult lives and careers. 

SCiP have developed a number of very useful resources – for parents, policy and decision makers as well as schools colleges and Universities – visit their website to view guidance and Briefing papers from SCiP and partners on areas such as UCAS personal statements, the impact of non-operational separation and deployment, schools admissions and top tips for educational establishments from children and young people.  You can also access the research conducted at the University of Winchester about the progression of service children to higher education. See more on the Higher Education section.

Service Children in State Schools (SCISS) 

SCISS is an affiliation of thousands of state-maintained schools in England that have Service children on roll and is led by a National Executive Advisory Committee (NEAC) of headteachers; Local Authority officers/advisers; representatives from the three Armed Forces Families Federations and representatives from the Service Children Progression Alliance (SCiP), the DfE and the MOD’s Directorate for Children and Young People (DCYP) Global Education Team.   

SCISS aims to be the voice of schools, influencing policy and practice and sharing good practice amongst those school with service children. RAF FF will continue to work with them, through the NEAC to do this. 

Here at the RAF Families Federation

Louise Briggs is the RAF Families Federation Policy Advisor for Education and Childcare – if you have any comments she would love to hear from you – [email protected] 

If you have any evidence you would like to report to us or an issue you need help with then you can contact us with that too – please use the ‘report an issue button’ at the top of the screen.

Defence Policy – Education, children and young people

A number of defence policies cover issues with service children, see below for some of the main ones.  All the policies are available on the Defence Intranet and some at the web links below: 

JSP 342 – Education of Service Children and Young People.

JSP 834 – Safeguarding Children and Young people – Available from station welfare team or Defence Intranet

JSP 752 – Tri service regulations for expenses and allowances – including Service Children’s Education. Chapter 14 

JSP 760 – Tri-Service Regulations for Leave and Other Types of Absence – including absences on medical grounds, compassionate leave, maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave and parental leave. 

JSP 770 – Tri-service operational and non-operational welfare policy – this includes requirements in terms of SEND and education if you are thinking of serving overseas. Available from station welfare team or Defence Intranet

JSP 464 Tri service accommodation – including retaining SFA for educational reasons. Chapter 7, section VIII, 0725 (i) 

JSP 820 – Tri Service disability and additional needs policy

Page image: Children taking part in an RAF Youth & Stem Programme event in Scotland. Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.