Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Private Education:Written question - 196151

(Islington South and Finsbury)

Named Day

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Asked on: 27 November 2018
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Private Education
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how much expenditure his Department allocated to pay the private school fees of the children of Departmental staff at each of (a) Cheltenham Ladies College, (b) Roedean School, (c) Wycombe Abbey, (d) Benenden School, (e) Malvern St James, (f) Wellington College, (g) St Francis College, (h) Sevenoaks School, (i) Malvern College and (j) Hurtwood House in the last year for which figures are available.
Answered by: Sir Alan Duncan
Answered on: 03 December 2018

In Financial Year 2016/2017 funding was allocated as below to pay the private school fees of the children of FCO staff at the following schools:




Cheltenham Ladies College


Roedean School


Wycombe Abbey


Benenden School


Malvern St. James


Wellington College


St. Francis College


Seven Oaks School


Malvern College


Hurtwood House


Members of the diplomatic service are expected to be widely deployable throughout their career. It is long-standing practice that the FCO provides clearly defined and limited financial support to staff to help maintain the continuity of their children's education. Many parents prefer to take their children with them abroad, but in some of the 168 countries and territories where the FCO has UK-based staff, we do not permit staff to take their children either for health or security reasons. In others, local schools of an acceptable standard are not available.

As frequent moves by staff and families between the UK and overseas, and between posts overseas, can be disruptive to the education of the children, the FCO provides Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA). This enables staff who meet certain eligibility criteria to choose to provide an uninterrupted education for their children at a British boarding school in the UK while they continue to take up postings overseas at regular intervals during their career. CEA is a long-standing policy run under successive governments.

The FCO refunds standard term fees up to a ceiling which is reviewed annually. Where staff opt to send their children to more expensive schools, the difference in cost is met privately. The maximum amount the FCO will pay is determined by an independent survey conducted by Employment Conditions Abroad (ECA) International, which is used by public and private sector employers whose staff work across the world. Various factors, including availability of places (sometimes at short notice) and proximity of other family members, influence which schools staff choose for their children.

This provision may continue for up to 5 years following an officer's return to the UK, provided the officer will serve overseas again at the end of their home tour (and before the child completes their education), to allow children to complete key stages of their education without multiple disruptions.

UK-staff based overseas with dependent children living at Post are required to ensure that their children receive a full-time education from the start of the school term beginning after the child's 5th birthday, continuing until they reach school leaving age. At overseas posts where no suitable free English language based schooling is available (currently all countries except Australia, New Zealand and the United States), the FCO will meet the costs of schooling, where available, at an appropriate English language school from a list of pre-identified schools in the city of posting.

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