Select Committee on Defence Eleventh Report


Frequent moves are a feature of Service life, and the children of Service personnel can suffer as a result. Mobility can have a detrimental impact on children's emotional well-being and their educational attainment. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) should work with the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), local education authorities and individual schools so that the worst effects of mobility are mitigated.

Some Service parents choose to educate their children at boarding school so that they avoid the negative effects of turbulence. The MoD provides an allowance to cover much of this expense: the MoD should undertake research to determine why lower-paid ranks are less likely to educate their children at boarding school.

Children can suffer when their parents are deployed on operations. Regular communication can help. The MoD should increase the provision of telephones and Internet access for Service personnel on operations so that they can communicate with their children.

Service Children's Education (SCE), an MoD agency, runs 44 schools overseas catering for 13,000 Service children. The feedback on SCE schools is generally positive but some criticisms must be addressed: the governance of SCE schools, applying DfES initiatives in a timely way and funding for the education of children of personnel contracted to the MoD. The MoD should consider widening the eligibility for free education in SCE schools.

It is unacceptable that there is currently no means of determining a reliable figure for the number of Service children in UK schools. This data should be captured in the Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC) conducted by the DfES every January.

The system for the transfer of student records between schools is often poor and needs to be improved. There are particular problems for Service children with special needs. The DfES should consider the merits of a "Statementing passport" to overcome the need for assessments every time a child transfers school.

The Government and the devolved administrations must act in a joined-up way to ensure continuity of education for children moving between different parts of the UK. We are very concerned that Service children may be falling between the responsibilities of the DfES and the devolved administrations and recommend greater contact between the MoD and those in the devolved administrations responsible for education.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2006
Prepared 6 September 2006