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Thursday 6th June 2019

Letter from Mike Cooper, Director Children & Young People

Dear Families,


I am writing to you to reassure you, as families with children at MOD schools and Early Years Settings, that while you may have heard our transformation project (FOM), this is an internal organisation review which will not adversely affect the service you receive.

As you are aware, MOD Schools and Early Years Settings provide a key role/service for Defence by enabling accompanied service overseas.  Defence requires these schools and settings to deliver an efficient and effective quality education for Service and other entitled children that is responsive to the needs of the military community.

With the recent drawdown from Germany the number of MOD schools and Early Years Settings will be reduced to 14 schools and 8 settings by July 2019.  This change has given us the opportunity to undertake a complete review of the way we meet Defence’s schools and settings requirement and we felt it was a good time to let you know about the work that is underway.  Our internal transformation project (FOM) is looking at ways of improving how we deliver across all schools and Early Years Settings, while remaining committed to providing the best education provision for our Service and entitled children.  This is an ongoing project which is expected to deliver an operating model from September 2019.

Please rest assured that the expectations for delivery and standard of education will not change; this is not a cost-saving measure. This is simply an opportunity for us to continue to ensure that we provide high quality education at best value for Defence. While there may be some changes in the future to how we best deliver education, there are no current plans to change where we are located nor the standard of the education we provide now.

Our MOD schools and Early Years Settings will continue to at least reflect UK Standards with schools and settings regulated externally by HMI (OFSTED).  We expect our schools to remain of the highest standard i.e. rated Good or Outstanding.  They will endeavour to meet the individual educational needs of your child by supporting the UK curriculum and public examinations, as well as delivering a wide-ranging syllabus, some of which will be bespoke to the local culture, geography and history.  When the time comes to for you to move to or from our schools or settings, our mobility mitigation measures will assist your child’s transfer and smooth transition back into the UK education system. Please see Q&A below for further information.


Similar reviews or projects have already been carried out in the past, so is this one necessary?

This point is totally understood. The world is a changing place and there can often be more effective ways of doing business, but the reality is that the pressure on all Government departments as well as a changing Defence requirement is likely to continue.  With the Strategic Defence Security Review 2015 and the Drawdown of British Forces from Germany by 2020, DCYP must continue to review delivery operating models to ensure that the most efficient and effective education services are maintained to meet the requirement, which in turn support the accompanied military community. 

Today’s MOD schools’ provision was developed when the Defence requirement was much greater; we must assess the current operating model to take advantage of opportunities identified.  This includes making better use of modern technology to deliver education and to improve data sharing to enable pupil transfers to meet the future needs of all children alike.

Which MOD schools and early years settings are included in the future operating model?

All the remaining 14 MOD schools and 8 early years settings are included in the review of the future operating model.  No decisions have been made about the operating model to date.  The extent to which individual schools could be included within any evolving model, will be subject to consideration of enduring constraints.


  • SHAPE School, Belgium
  • Hornbill School, Brunei.
  • St John’s School, Cyprus.
  • King Richard School, Cyprus.
  • Akrotiri School, Cyprus.
  • Ayios Nikolaos, Cyprus.
  • Dhekelia School, Cyprus.
  • Episkopi School, Cyprus.
  • Mount Pleasant School, Falkland Islands. (inc. 2yrs)
  • Attenborough School, Germany.
  • St David’s School, Germany.
  • AFNORTH School, Holland.
  • British Forces School, Italy.
  • Queen Victoria School (boarding) Scotland.

Early Years Settings 0-3 years:

  • Tree Tops, Brunei.
  • Akrotiri, Cyprus
  • Episkopi, Cyprus
  • Ayios Nikolaos, Cyprus
  • Dhekelia, Cyprus
  • Attenborough 0-3, Germany.
  • Early Years, 0-3yrs, Gibraltar.
  • Early Years Foundation Stage, 3-5yrs, Gibraltar.

Will my child be in a bigger class at school in future?

Class sizes in our smaller primary and secondary schools are generally smaller than UK schools and this is unlikely to change.

Will my child get a place in an Early Years setting?

Early years places tend to be in high demand.  As with UK early years places, your child’s name will be put on a waiting list until the EY Setting is able to offer your child a place.

Can you meet free 15/30hrs early years provision where I am eligible?

Yes, we can where an MOD Setting exists.

What range of education provision will the future operating model offer?

We aim to offer the same range of education provision and associated specialist support services (SEND) that are currently provided; we are focusing on how that can best be delivered in each location. Unfortunately, as is now, not every need can be met in our schools and early years settings because we do not have the same range of children’s services as those on offer within UK. All parents of children and young people looking to attend our MOD schools and settings overseas will continue to be conditional on educational approval under the education assessment clearance system. (Please see Education overseas for service children on GOV.UK for further details)

Will the future operating model be a ‘one size fits all’ for the remaining MOD schools?

Each MOD School or setting has its unique local variations and we will continue to celebrate those differences and similarities.  Schools and early years settings will continue to reflect these in their curriculum offer.  The DCYP aim remains: All our children and young people flourish and achieve their full potential.

What will the impact be on the education standard for Service and entitled children?

Any proposed option must ensure that the current standards of education are maintained and continue to mirror, where practicable, that of the UK.  Schools will continue to be graded externally by HMI, OFSTED and we aim that all our schools and setting are rated at least Good with all schools aspiring to be Outstanding.

Will my child get a place in a school?

Currently no child is turned away. It is possible that a child may have to wait for a place in the future.  As now, no family should withdraw their child from their current school or setting until they have received educational clearance confirming the availability of a place at the school in the overseas location.

Have the TUs been engaged?

Yes, TU’s have been kept informed throughout the MOD Schools FOM work and we will continue to engage with them as and when required.

Where can we find additional information?

Information will be shared with you all as it becomes available.  We are well aware that we need to approach this through the most direct route possible and multiple channels.  We aim to send updates through Families Federation Newsletters and our schools and early years settings schoolbag letter drops where possible.

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Image ©Crown Copyright (SAC K Waterson)

See also: Education

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