Boarding and independent schools

Subject to meeting the strict eligibility criteria, service personnel may be entitled to claim Continuity of Education Allowance towards their family’s fees for boarding school. The aim of Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) is to assist service personnel to achieve continuity of education for their child(ren) that would otherwise be denied in the maintained school sector if their child(ren) accompanied them on frequent assignments both at home and overseas. If parents are considering claiming CEA they must first contact CEAS and register their child.

The allowance is available for children of eight years of age and over. The costs of boarding schools can vary greatly and parents are expected to contribute a minimum of 10% towards the fees. The fees are only part of the costs and parents should be clear what extras the school charges for. In claiming CEA, the service person must fully accept that accompanied service is the overriding principle for maintaining entitlement.

The latest rates and allowances are detailed in JSP 752 , Chapter 14.

Since 2018, those in receipt of CEA were required to reapply for CEA to continue to sixth form.  Read our Envoy article written in 2018. 

The allowance is available for children of eight years of age and over. The costs of boarding schools can vary greatly and parents are expected to contribute a minimum of 10% towards the fees.  

In claiming CEA, the service person must fully accept that accompanied service is the overriding principle for maintaining entitlement. Ensure that you have read and understood the regulations in JSP 752 before committing – there are rules about how far you live from your place of work (the ’50 mile rule’), how much time a spouse can spend away from the home (the ‘90 day rule’) as well as your mobility as a family. 

The fees are only part of the costs and parents should be clear what extras the school charges for. Items such as uniform, music and sports, tuck, stationery, weekend activities, can all be extra costs to be considered and budgeted for. 

Responsibilities

The CEA section of JSP 752 outlines the responsibilities in all aspects of claiming CEA very clearly.  In summary:

The claimant – is responsible for ensuring they have read and understood the regulations and that they meet eligibility criteria.  They are obliged to report any changes to unit HR immediately they occur.

CEAS provide advice and guidance on the suitability of boarding, maintain the accredited database and provide serial numbers

Assignment Authority – looks at the likelihood that a SP will be posted 50 miles from current duty station within next 4 years

Commanding Officers (CO) – (or nominated representative) assesses and certifies the application forms and that an SP meets eligibility criteria

PACCC – confirms that the form has been completed correctly and that the SP is eligible and authorised to claim CEA.  They monitor and investigate the CEA eligibility of SP when in question and calculate CEA rates.

Unit HR – determines an individual’s eligibility upon arrival or reassignment and checks and authorises each claim

There are numerous guides and sources of information available to parents who are considering boarding or independent schools. 

  • Station Personnel staff will advise on the regulations and eligibility criteria for CEA.
  • Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) which is specific to Service families on 01980 618244 or email [email protected]. This includes registration for and information on the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA), as well as requesting to access the Accredited Schools Database to help with your search for the right school for your child. Email them to request access.

Independent Schools Inspectorate

Affiliated Independent Schools are not inspected under the Ofsted umbrella but instead by the Independent Schools’ Inspectorate where you can view the inspection report of the school of your choice.

State boarding schools in the UK

You might like to look at the range of opportunities available in the state sector when considering boarding school options for your son/daughter. The State Boarding Schools’ Association website contains a great deal of useful information.

Bursaries and Assistance

Some independent schools might offer bursaries for Armed Forces families and others – we will add any we know about here. 

St Helen and St Katherine Girls School sixth form bursaries.

This guide offers a summary of schools offering bursaries.

The Lord Wandsworth Foundation – The Foundation helps around 50 children, many of whom have been bereaved of one or both parents or those who have lost their support through other circumstances, to benefit from the support, structure and stability of LWC’s boarding environment. 

The Ogden Armed Forces Bursary Scheme 

Eligibility: 

  • Parent has served/is serving in the Army, RAF, Royal Navy or Royal Marines 
  • Parent has either been killed or injured in Service or has a diagnosis of PTSD 
  • Child requiring bursary is aged 11 plus and attending a private school 

If you fit the above criteria please email Clare Scherer, Director, Royal Navy & Royal Marines Children’s Fund who will ask for more information before submission to the Ogden Armed Forces Bursary Scheme. 

There is no guarantee of a bursary, the maximum length of any award is 5 years and match funding is required from either another charity or the school. The maximum amount of any award is £8,000 per annum but the amount of award may not be the maximum. 

For families in particular need of assistance there is might also be charitable support available – see our Charitable Support page.