COMMONS

Armed Forces Covenant in action? Educating children of Service Personnel

23 July 2013

Cross-Government cooperation needed to help Service children get equal education opportunities, say MPs.

The MoD must resolve a conflict at the heart of the Armed Forces Covenant in the provision of education to Service children, says the Defence Committee.

Armed Forces Covenant

The Armed Forces Covenant – the commitment made by the Government to those who serve and their families, says that Service children should have the same standard of and access to education as other children in the UK.

The nature of Service life means that families are required to be mobile if they are to accompany the Service parent. This mobility has major impact on the continuity of children’s education, in particular, parents can find it difficult to get their children into the schools of their choice.

Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, says

“The Government should explain how it intends to resolve the conflict between the Armed Forces Covenant, which says that Service children may need special arrangements to access school places, and the Schools Admissions Code which sets out a strict timetable and criteria for admissions.”

Education Needs

The Committee is dismayed that some recommendations made by its predecessor Committee in an earlier Report have not been put into practice. The Committee is disappointed that little progress has been made on meeting the needs of Service children with Special Educational Needs by ensuring that their assessments and statements are recognised by all local authorities and devolved administrations.

Transition document

There has also been limited progress on the development of a transition document for all Service children to address some of the difficulties caused by frequent changes of schools.

Urgent action

The Government needs to address these problems urgently, before large scale moves of Service personnel as forces withdraw from Germany, and as re-basing plans take effect.

Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, says

“It is encouraging to note that Service children’s progress is broadly in line with other pupils even though they face considerable challenges. However, mobile Service children do not perform as well as non-mobile Service children. With greater recognition of their needs, and focused additional support, Service children could do even better. The Government should liaise with local authorities, the devolved administrations, and others responsible for providing education services to ensure that these children are given every opportunity to maximise their potential.”

Further information

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