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

In 2012, the House of Commons Defence Committee announced a new inquiry into the provision of education to children of Service personnel, its third in a series of inquiries looking at the Armed Forces Covenant.1 The inquiry will report in 2013. A parallel consultation is considering the education of Service personnel.

The Armed Forces Covenant was published in May 2011 and sets out the relationship between the nation, the state and the Armed Forces. An underlying principle is that the Armed Forces community should not be disadvantaged compared to other citizens. The Covenant has particular applicability in a number of fields, for example
healthcare and housing. With respect to the provision of education to Service children, the Covenant states that:

“Children of members of the Armed Forces should have the same standard of, and access to, education (including early years services) as any other UK citizen in the area in which they live. The Services should aim to facilitate this in the way they manage personnel, but there should also be special arrangements to support access to schools if a place is required part through an academic year as a consequence of posting. For personnel posted overseas, the MoD provides early years and educational facilities where the numbers support it, although the range of provision and choice may not be as great as in the UK. In certain cases assistance will be available to support children’s continuity of education, given the requirement for mobility.”

To help inform the Committee’s inquiry, the National Audit Office carried out an  online consultation aimed at Service families with children in (or previously in) education to gain insight into how the Covenant is working ‘on the ground’ through the first‑hand experiences of education by Service personnel and their families. The findings are illustrative of individual experiences and may not be representative of the wider population of Service families.