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School Fees

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department's policy is on the payment of school fees for the children of staff employed in HM Armed Forces abroad when those children attend (a) international schools and (b) fee-paying schools in the UK. (93151)

The Ministry of Defence has comprehensive support arrangements for the children of service families that are living abroad. Where numbers and locations overseas permit, our Service Children's Education (SCE) Agency provides schools based on the English national curriculum, including (in Germany) boarding arrangements for those beyond normal commuting distance. There is no charge to members of HM Armed Forces for places at SCE schools. Where it is not possible or practical to provide a SCE school, arrangements are made for service parents to use local or international schools. Where there are no local English-speaking schools the full cost of attending fee-paying international schools is reimbursed. Where local schools are English-speaking but service parents still choose to use an international fee-paying school, two-thirds of the cost is reimbursed.

For service families who need continuity of education for their children through boarding in UK independent or state maintained boarding schools, the costs can be offset through Continuity of Education Allowances. Service personnel are provided with up to 90 per cent. of the fees and admissible extras (within a set upper limit) as an allowance. There are also allowances for children with Special Educational Needs who need to attend specialist boarding schools.