The education support fund (ESF) was introduced in 2011 as a Ministry of Defence (MOD) fund to supplement the provisions made by the relevant educational authorities across the UK to mitigate the adverse effects of family mobility and parental absence on the children of service personnel. This supplement was considered necessary given the increased operational tempo at the time and the planned drawdown from Germany. The ESF was due to conclude at the end of the 2017-18 financial year.
The armed forces covenant is a promise by the nation that those who serve and have served and their families are not disadvantaged as a result of their service. The provision of educational support for the children of service personnel is primarily the responsibility of the relevant educational authorities and I am grateful to colleagues in the Department for Education for their continued support for the covenant through both the service pupil premium and individual projects, including the £2.8 million recently announced to support the expansion of the Army in the Salisbury plain area. I am also grateful to colleagues in the Welsh Government for creating a £200,000 fund, which I hope can be extended, this year to support service children in Wales.
In the light of the ongoing drawdown from Germany and to provide time for the educational authorities across the UK to bring in longer-term provision for service children as necessary, I am pleased to announce that I have asked the MOD to extend the ESF, on a limited basis, for two years. The fund will consist of £3 million this year and £2 million in 2019-20.