The Children's Education Advisory Service (CEAS) provides expert and impartial advice about the education of service children.
CEAS are part of the MOD’s Directorate Children and Young People (DCYP) and are a small dedicated team, who are experienced in advising service parents on a wide range of issues regarding the education of service children in the UK and overseas.
Contact details for CEAS and PACC
You can contact CEAS by email firstname.lastname@example.org, please include as much information as possible about your query, such as the age of your child(ren), an explanation of your situation to help the team respond to you and allow a few days for a response.
All queries regarding CEA and Eligibility Certificates should be made by email to the address above. If you need to speak to someone, the telephone number is 01980 618244 and there is an answerphone facility.
The Pay and Allowances Complaints and Casework Cell Team (PACCC) contact details are below:
You can write to:
65 Brown Street
Email: email@example.com Telephone: 0141 224 8023
CEAS provides a dedicated service exclusively for service and MOD families providing professional advice about all aspect of children’s education both in the UK and Overseas.
CEAS has 13 full time advisors to answer queries via telephone, email or in person. CEAS provides the best advice available, free of charge, to all service parents irrespective of rank or location.
All 4 devolved areas in the UK have their own arrangements for providing and choosing the curriculum, and monitoring their education services. An overview of education service provision in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland has been provided with useful contact numbers and links.
If you choose for your child to be educated outside of the state system your family may be entitled to help with Continuity of Education fees. Overseas education is dependent on the area you are posted to.
The MOD provides an allowance for entitled service personnel to educate their children at a boarding school.
Continuity of education allowance application process
With effect from 29 September 2011 CEAS will no longer issue CEA Eligibility Certificates. The new CEA Governance Team will be taking on this responsibility. DIN 2011 DIN01-195 refers. Initial claimants and those renewing their eligibility must still come to CEAS for issue of the application form
The allowance is called the ‘Continuity of Education Allowance’ (CEA) and is to help provide continuity of education for a child and enable the spouse of a service person to accompany them on postings. The allowance is available for children of 8 years of age and over. If you are interested in claiming this allowance you should check your eligibility with your pay office.
The costs of boarding schools can vary greatly and you are expected to contribute a minimum of 10% towards the fees. The fees are only part of the costs and you need to be clear what extras the school charges for. There is a junior and senior CEA and which allowance you are eligible for depends on the fee structure of the school you choose. The junior and senior rates are not related to your rank.
If you have a child who has been boarding for at least a year you may be able to have a day place and claim a day allowance. This would be on the understanding that when you were posted away from the area your child would revert back to full boarding and you would continue with an accompanied posting.
There are many types of boarding school to cater for different age ranges, different abilities and different interests. Most boarding schools are Independent and you can find out more about them by visiting the Independent Schools Council. There are also a number of state boarding schools which provide excellent value for money because they are only allowed to charge for accommodation costs and not tuition costs. For more information on these school visit the State Boarding School Association website.
To claim CEA you must contact CEAS to obtain advice and the relevant application form. CEA (Board) Forms cannot be downloaded from this, or any other, website.
Day School Allowance (North Wales)
Day School Allowance (North Wales) (DSA (NW)) is available to service families who are serving in an established post in an eligible unit and are resident within the counties of Gwynedd Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire or the Isle of Anglesey and who meet all the criteria for payment of CEA. It is specifically designed to allow the children who move to North Wales following a posting to attend an independent day school as an alternative to a state day school which is operating the bilingual teaching policy. There is no requirement for claimants to pay the 10% parental contribution which applies to CEA. For more information contact your new unit.
Special educational needs
If your child has special educational needs and is eligible for CEA, they may be entitled to the Special Educational Needs Addition (SENA). This is a supplement to CEA payable to a Service parent. It is intended to assist towards the higher fees normally payable at specialist independent schools that have appropriate educational facilities. Contact us for further details.
If your child attends a day school while living with a relative or guardian, you may claim a guardian’s allowance. The provision for claiming the allowance is the same as for claiming a CEA. The allowance is not payable if your child is living at home with you.
Children’s visits to parents serving overseas
Children up to the age of 18 years at school in UK are entitled to 6 free return journeys a year to visit their parents serving on accompanied tours overseas. A child over 18, but under 21, who is receiving full-time education is entitled to 1 free return journey a year. Apply for these visits through your overseas unit.
If the child is registered as having special needs with CEAS you will be eligible for an additional visit per year at public expense.
Continuity of education allowance application process
The aim of Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) is to assist service personnel to achieve continuity of education for their child(ren) that would otherwise be denied in the maintained school sector if their child(ren) accompanied them on frequent assignments both at home and overseas. In claiming CEA, a Service person must fully accept that accompanied service is the overriding principle for maintaining entitlement. An exception to this requirement is those service personnel classified as Involuntarily Separated (INVOLSEP). Advice on this can be sought from CEAS.
To ensure that service personnel have considered all the requirements of JSP 752, Chapter 9, and have been advised on the best options for the education of their child(ren) all service personnel must contact CEAS for advice before an initial claim for CEA is submitted or when any change of school is being planned.
The Pay and Allowances Complaints and Casework Cell Team (PACCC) will conduct a thorough audit of the application and will complete Part 4 of the form. They will issue the authorised CEA Eligibility Certificate to the claimant which is to be forwarded to the unit HR admin staff prior to the authorisation of an initial claim in any new school for each child. The certificate is to be retained by the Service person to be produced as and when requested for audit / eligibilty purposes for the duration of the child’s attendance at that school.
A CEA Eligibility Certificate must be completed by the claimant when a child starts or changes school, at the beginning of each new assignment, on a change of P Stat Category or when the certificate is 3 years old.
Education in the UK
In the UK, responsibilty for the making of education law and guidance has been devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Irish Assemblies. In England, legislative responsibility for education continues to lie solely with the UK Parliament at Westminster.
Structural and other differences between the four ‘home’ countries have existed for a long time but the more recent formal devolution of statutory responsibility for education law to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has not only emphasised existing differences but continued to establish further ones.
Service families moving around the U.K. often find themselves in confusing situations resulting from these differences. These differences may relate to a number of factors:
- differences in age ranges of phases of education
- different examination and assessment systems
- different curricular structure and content
- different admission systems
- different statutory approaches to meeting children’s special educational / additional support needs.
- higher education funding routes and arrangements
In 2006, the House of Commons Defence Committee, in an enquiry into the education of Service children, expressed concern about some of the difficulties experienced by service families as they moved around and in and out of the U.K. This concern led to a recommendation, adopted by the MOD that a forum should be established within which the MOD and officials from each of the four ‘home’ education ministries work together to find ways to mitigate the difficulties experienced by service families in this context. The Forum is called the Service Children’s Education Forum (SCEF).
Service families concerned about or experiencing difficulties with moves around or in and out of any of the four ‘home’ countries should contact CEAS for information, advice or support. Any relevant information you can provide about your experience(s) of these issues is also useful to CEAS in its role as a member of SCEF.
If you are offered an overseas posting you will have to look carefully into the education available for your children.
The type and quality of education available will differ from country to country and often from one part of a country to another. Remember that what is right for one child is not necessarily right for another and the age and ability of your child will have an effect on your decision. The opportunity for a child to be educated in a different system and different culture can have tremendous advantages but you will have to weigh up carefully the advantages and disadvantages.
Education overseas can be roughly divided into four different types. There are areas where we have our own MOD schools provided through Service Children’s Education, countries that are predominantly English speaking, countries that are non English speaking but where you have access to English speaking International schools and non English speaking countries where the only option is to attend the local school.
Service Children’s Education (SCE)
Further information on SCE schools can be found on the SCE website.
English speaking schools
If you are posted to an English speaking country your child will be able to attend the local state school. The school will follow the curriculum of that country and the English national curriculum will not be available. If there is a more appropriate independent day school available locally you may be eligible for an allowance to help you with the cost of the fees. Although your child will not be taught the English national curriculum every system has its own strengths which may more than compensate.
Non English speaking schools
If you are posted to a country where the local schools teach in a language other than English your child may be able to attend one of these schools. There is an allowance to help your child learn the local language but the provision available varies from country to country. The English national curriculum will not be available. Your child will need to have a real interest in languages if he/she is going to thrive in one of these schools.
International schools are independent schools which can sometimes be found in non English speaking countries. These schools cater for the international community and the main language is usually English. In some of the International schools the curriculum follows the same pattern as in England but in others they may follow other systems such as the USA system. If there is an International school close to where you are posted you may be able to claim an allowance to attend the school.
If you decide that there is no suitable schooling for your child at the overseas posting you might want to consider boarding in the UK. The Continuity of Education Allowance is available for eligible service personnel to help them with the cost of boarding education. Look at the Boarding School page for more information.
Moving schools can be difficult; there are a number of issues you may need to think about before you move.
It is advisable to start planning early to give more time to resolve problems. We have included some basic descriptions of the education systems of each of the devolved administrations. SCE provision, where it exists, follows the English model.
If your child is at a critical time in their education, i.e. GCSE, AS or A Level years, you may be able to retain your house in service families accommodation. Contact your housing provider for further information and we can advise you further.
Basic steps to follow
Find out details of schools in the new location; contact the local HIVE, who produce education Fact Sheets and will have information on the local educational establishments. Moving school packs are available to help you support your child when moving from one school to another, both in the UK and overseas.
Many schools now have their own website. If possible, arrange to visit schools, inspection reports do not tell you whether the school will be suitable for your child. Inform the old school (if appropriate) that your child will be moving, this helps their planning (do not worry, if you do not move you will not lose your place in the school). Apply as soon as possible for your preferred school, there are different systems for each area with some schools such as foundation schools not under the admissions control of the Local Authority (LA). The LA will be able to advise you further. The sooner you apply the sooner any problems can be sorted out. Do remember that although the law in England allows you to state a preference it does not require the LA to allocate your preferred school. The systems for allocation of school places in Scotland and Northern Ireland differs so see the relevant pages for more detail.
If you are not satisfied with the school place offered, you may appeal. We can offer advice on the process, help in the wording of the appeal and may be able to attend the appeal. However, before appealing do look at the school being offered as it may satisfy your requirements. If your child is affected by different starting ages between Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland you should contact the school in the first instance, speaking to the Headteacher may sort any possible problems out. If not then you should contact the local education departments or boards, contact us for further advice or speak to the local School Liaison Officer.
Special Education Needs (SEN)
If your child has Special Educational Needs then you are advised to register with CEAS. We can help in the transfer process between LAs, ensuring that the needs of your child are met. If you are posted overseas and have a child with Special Educational Needs you must inform us. Although Service Children’s Education (SCE) schools will try and meet the needs of your child they cannot cover all Special Educational Needs. If you arrive without having contacted CEAS you may find you are returned to the UK at your own expense if they cannot meet your child’s needs.
Some parents may wish to consider boarding school for their child to ensure continuity of education. A Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) is available which can cover up to 90% of fees. There are special rules on this allowance, see our boarding school information and ask your pay office to explain. We can also advise you.
Service Children’s Education (SCE) can provide you with information regarding what is available for your child overseas. SCE provides schooling facilities in Belize, Brunei, Cyprus, Netherlands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Italy, Belgium and Germany. Local information can also be found at the around the world services website.
SCE schools are intended to, as far as possible, provide the same pattern of education as that provided in England and Wales. This may not be the pattern your child has previously experienced. Where no schools exist other types of educational provision may be available. Contact us for help and advice.
Service children in state schools
The Service Children in State Schools (SCISS) Working Group was set up at the request of the DfES to look into the issues and concerns, including mobility and funding, that were being raised by Headteachers of state schools with Service children in the United Kingdom.
The group meet on a regular basis. The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), Ministry of Defence (MOD) and CEAS, as well as a number of Headteachers from all sectors of education are members of the group.
A wide range of issues and concerns have been identified. These include; Identification of good practice, research, communication and funding. A Service Children in State Schools handbook for schools with Service children has been produced and is available. Another, complimentary, resource for both parents and schools has been produced by SCE on the issues relating to Service deployment. This can be accessed by clicking the link in ‘External Links’ and creating an account on the Deployment Resources Home page.
Service children in state schools handbook
The Service Children in State Schools handbook for schools is intended to be a supportive resource, written largely by practitioners in schools for their peers.
It is intended to be interactive in the sense that it can be amended to incorporate suggestions to improve the Handbook, examples of good practice from users and used to facilitate communication between schools and local authorities with similar needs.
Admissions criteria in England
Each year group in each school has an admissions number, published by the admissions authority. This is the number of children in the year group up to which the school must admit children before it can refuse to offer a place to a child.
If a school has a place available in a year group, it must be offered to an appropriate applicant, subject to a small number of exceptional circumstances (e.g. the child had been permanently excluded from school on more than one occasion).
When a school receives a number of applications in excess of the number of places available (if there are places available), it must decide which children are admitted to the school only on the basis of ‘admission’ or ‘over-subscription’ criteria.
These criteria will vary from school to school and from area to area but will relate, generally, to factors such as:
- catchment/defined/designated areas for the school
- distance from home to school
- the existence of brothers and/or sisters on the school roll
- the local primary school previously attended by the child
- (for faith schools only) evidence, certified by an appropriate minister/priest, of involvement in church life
These examples are not exhaustive.
Admission criteria are always set out in priority order (i.e. children matching the higher criteria always have a stronger claim to places than those matching the lower criteria).
All admission authorities should place ‘looked after’ children (those in public care) and children with Statements of special educational needs/education, health and care plans at the top of their list of criteria.
You must never assume that an address near to a school will secure a place for your child or even give him/her a significant advantage over other applicants. Criteria other than distance between home and school may come higher on an admission authority’s list of criteria and, even in those areas where catchment areas operate (not everywhere), the borders of such areas are drawn to take account of a range of local factors, not simply the distances between local homes and the school(s) concerned.
Infant class size limits
Parents of children in the Key Stage 1 age range (4-7) can have an additional problem to contend with in finding a suitable school place. Paragraph 2.15 of the School Admissions Code states:
Infant classes must not contain more than 30 pupils with a single school teacher
This is not guidance but a legal requirement. Although the law still allows parents to appeal for places in Key Stage 1 provision, a panel hearing such an appeal may only find in parents’ favour in a small number of very limited circumstances.
If you want to appeal for a Key Stage 1 place, you are strongly advised to contact the CEAS Helpline to seek advice before embarking on the appeal process. It is very difficult to win such appeals.
Age ranges of schools in England
Whilst the age range is consistent across England for the statutory provision of education to children and young people, the different age ranges for schools both between and within English local authorities presents a complex and confusing picture. The options which may be available in your area are set out below. Please note that some local authorities offer two or more age range systems for schools within their boundaries. Due to the raising of the participation age all young people should participate in education or training as required by HM government.
- ages 4+ to 7 (excluding any pre-school provision)
Junior mixed infant/primary school
- ages 4+ to 11 (excluding any pre-school provision)
- ages 7 to 11
- ages 8/9 to 11/12/13 (N.B. If a middle school is ‘deemed primary’, it offers a primary school curriculum throughout its age range; if it is ‘deemed secondary’, it provides a transition, throughout its age range, from a primary to a secondary curriculum)
Secondary/ high schools
- ages 11/12/13 to 16/18
Sixth form colleges
- ages 16 to 18
In England the secondary phase of education offers a bewildering array of different types of school, not all of which are available everywhere. These types of school include:
- such schools admit and provide for children of all abilities. For children and young people with Statement of Special Educational Need or an Education, Health and Care Plan, their placements will need to be coordinated by the relevant Local Authority.
- these are comprehensive schools which are allowed to admit up to 10% of their intake each year on the basis of the applicants’ aptitude in the specialist subject(s) offered by the school. Such specialism may include sport, the visual and performing arts and modern foreign languages. There are also a small number of junior / primary schools which have been awarded specialist status.
Selective (Grammar) Schools
- these schools are able to admit only those pupils who demonstrate, through tests taken prior to places being offered (e.g. the 11+), that they have the required ability to cope with the school’s academic demands. Selective Schools are not available in all local authorities and, nationally, they are comparitively few in number, consequently, such schools are almost always heavily over-subscribed.
City Technology Colleges (CTC)
- the 1988 Education Act enabled some secondary schools to establish themselves as CTCs. 14 were established between 1988 and 1993. CTCs operate outside of local authority management arrangements and are funded direct by the Department of Education and partnership with sponsorship which they had to secure before their CTC status was granted. CTCs are comprehensive schools with a specific focus on science and technology. The Department for Education is encouraging all CTCs to become Academies.
- these schools are ‘independent’ comprehensive state schools. They are set up by independent sponsors but with the backing of their local authorities. They all have specialist school status in one or more subjects.
- only 2 groups of children may be placed in special schools: those with completed Statements of Special Educational Needs/education, health and care plan for who such placements are deemed appropriate and those without Statements whose needs have become so severe and complex that they are placed in such schools for the purposes of assessment. Additionally, an increasing number of special schools are applying for and being awarded ‘specialist status’. This status confirms a specialism /specialims in a range of subjects and special needs areas. Age ranges of special schools vary considerably; some offer 3 to 19 provision on the same site albeit with clear structural separation within the organisation of the school. Others are solely primary or secondary special schools. Each local authority offers a different pattern of provision.
As you can see, even this is not straightforward! If you are not sure about the arrangements in the area relevant to you, always contact your local authority available through the Department for Education website.
Infant class size limits
Parents of children in the Key Stage 1 age range (4 to 7) can have an additional problem to contend with in finding a suitable school place. Paragraph 2:62 of the School Admissions Code states:
‘Infant classes must not contain more than 30 pupils with a single school teacher.’
This is not guidance but a legal requirement. Although the law still allows parents to appeal for places in Key Stage 1 provision, a panel hearing such an appeal may only find in parents’ favour in a small number of very limited circumstances.
If you want to appeal for a Key Stage 1 place, you are strongly advised to contact the CEAS Helpline to seek advice before embarking on the appeal process. It is very difficult to win such appeals.
Admissions criteria in Scotland
Helpful information about finding and securing places in state-maintained schools in Scotland is available in a publication called ‘Choosing a School - A Guide for Parents’. It can be found on the Scottish government Website. Information is also available on each Scottish local authority’s website.
If you have any difficulty in obtaining access to the relevant information or in securing a school place in Scotland, please contact CEAS.
Details of schools in Scotland can be found at Scottish Schools Online.
Applying for a school place
In Scotland, contacting local schools direct is usually the best way to start to secure school places. Most children in Scotland attend their local schools. However, if you want to send your child to a council school other than your local one you must tell your council. You must put your request in writing. In Scotland it is called a ‘placing request’
If your placing request is refused you may appeal against it, except for refusals of nursery school places and refusal of places in primary school when your child is under school age.
If you do wish to appeal against a refusal of placing request you must do this quickly, if you do not tell the appeal committee within the time allowed by the law you may lose your right to appeal.
For more details see the Scottish Executive’s booklet ‘Choosing a School - A Guide for Parents’ on how to appeal. We will be able to give you help and advice in this process.
Admissions in Wales
Applications for school places
The composite prospectus published by each local authority gives details of the admission arrangements for local schools. Each prospectus will provide information about how to apply for school places.
Arrangements for admission to State Maintained Schools in Wales are very similar to those in England and are governed by the Welsh School Admission Code (revised 2009). Non-Welsh speaking families should be aware that some schools in Wales teach mainly or entirely in Welsh. Any such family faced with this situation should contact CEAS (see contacts link) for information and advice.
Parents seeking school places in Wales have a statutory right to express a preference or more than one preference for a school place. Admission authorities for schools must usually meet expressed preferences for schools if there are places available in the appropriate year group. Unless a small number of limited exceptions apply, the only basis upon which requests for places my be turned down is the year group in question having already reached its published admission number (i.e. the year group is full).
If admission authorities refuse to offer a place they must do so in writing, give reasons for the refusal and inform parents of their right to appeal and how to obtain access to the appeals’ process.
Except in a limited number of circumstances, any parent whose child is refused a school place in the appropriate year group has the right to an independent appeal. A parent may, if they wish, appeal for places in more than one school simultaneously.
Parents are advised to contact CEAS (see contacts link) for information and advice about admission appeals.
Appeals for school places in Welsh State Maintained Schools are governed by the Schools Admission Appeals Code (revised 2009).
Applying for a school place in England
You should always make a written application for a school place and a school or admissions authority (school governing body or local authority) should always reply in writing.
If it is not possible for the admissions authority to offer your child a school place, the written reply should always, briefly, set out the reasons for that refusal and offer you the right of appeal against the decision not to offer your child a place. This form of reply is a legal requirement.
Make sure you adhere to any timescales indicated in the admissions’ literature relating to the schools for which you make applications.
If you are applying for a place in advance of your move to a new area, you may find that the admissions’ authority is reluctant to hold a place for your child if there is one available at the time of application.
This is a tricky issue; the ‘School Admissions Code’ makes it clear that admissions’ authorities can hold places for individual children in advance of their arrival but it does not give any indication of the amount of time for which it would be reasonable so to do.
If you are in a situation like this, please contact our Helpline for advice.
Faith schools, at the time of application, may specify additional information they require from you regarding you and/or your child’s commitment to the relevant faith.
Selective schools will require your child to sit the selection tests for that school or local authority area before considering your application.
Specialist schools that offer a percentage of their places on the basis of applicants’ aptitude for a particular subject, may ask for evidence of that aptitude or require your child to be tested for it.
Appealing for a school place in England
Guidance to families on the process of appealing for a school place in England.
Only once you have written to apply for a school place and the admissions authority has written back to turn down your application, giving reasons, are you in a position to proceed with an appeal.
The admissions authority must, in its letter rejecting your application, tell you how to proceed with an appeal. Always follow the instructions given to you in this letter.
If the admissions authority does not provide, in its letter of rejection, any information about obtaining access to the appeals’ process, it is breaking the law and you should ask for this information to be given to you.
Some, but not all, admissions’ authorities operate waiting lists for each year group of a school. You can ask for your child to be placed on a school’s waiting list. However, you must be aware that a child’s place on such a list is determined by how closely, in relation to the other children on the list, they match the published admission criteria for the school, not by the length of time for which they have been on it. A child added to the list after your child may better match the criteria and, as a result, your child will go down the list. Placing your child on a waiting list will not affect your right to appeal.
Usually, you will be asked to state, in writing, your intention to appeal and to send this to the Clerk to the Appeals’ Panel either at the school or the local authority, depending on the type of school involved. The Clerk will probably send you a form to complete and some information and instructions regarding the appeals’ process. At this point, you are strongly advised to contact our Helpline for advice and support.
Admission appeals should be heard within 30 school days (i.e. not counting weekends, bank and school holidays) of you submitting your completed appeal form/paperwork to the Clerk, so it is vital that you stick to any deadlines given to you.
Essentially, an admissions appeals’ panel has two decisions to make. Firstly, it has to decide whether or not the admissions’ authority has proved its case (i.e. is the school really full in the relevant year group?) and secondly, if the answer to the first question is, ‘Yes, the school really is full in that year group’, whether or not your case outweighs that put by the admissions’ authority.
In the paperwork you receive from the clerk, you will be asked to make a written statement in support of your appeal. At this stage, you will not have seen the written statement that will be made to the panel by the admissions authority. It is vital that you make your statement as strong as possible. What you write must always be true but you can make any argument that you think is relevant to your appeal.
We have devised a prompt sheet that you may find helpful in putting together your appeal statement. Our staff will be happy to look at any draft appeal statement you prepare and to make suggestions, if necessary, for improvement.
Once you have submitted your completed appeal form and statement, the clerk should next inform you, given the 30 school day timescale, of the date, time and place of the appeal hearing.
Sometimes, this information will arrive together with the admissions’ authority’s written statement to the panel but they may arrive separately. You should always be provided with a copy of the admissions’ authority’s written statement a few days before the hearing.
If we (or any other party) is going to attend the hearing with you, you should inform the clerk of this fact prior to the date of the hearing. N.B. We strongly urge Service parents to attend appeal hearings unless it is impossible to do so. For those of you posted overseas and for whom a return to the U.K. to attend an appeal is impossible, we may be able to represent you at the hearing. If you are in this situation, please contact our Helpline as soon as possible.
As soon as you receive a copy of the admissions’ authority’s statement, please find the quickest possible way to send a copy to us.
We and our partners hope to be able to support/represent as many Service parents as possible in appeal hearings; prior sight of all the papers is crucial if the effectiveness of this support is to be maximised. However, even if such support is not available on the day of the hearing, our staff will be happy to give you advice about exploiting, at the hearing, any weaknesses there may be in the authority’s case.
It is very important that you read carefully any information sent to you about the appeal. Although the components of the appeal hearing are broadly the same wherever you are in England, there are legitimate local variations.
Curriculum in Wales
Throughout your child’s school life, he or she will follow the National Curriculum, which has been designed to provide a firm foundation in language, mathematics and science, and to provide children between the ages of 5 and 16 with the opportunity to achieve their best within a broad and balanced curriculum.
Your child will follow the National Curriculum through 4 Key Stages of his or her compulsory school life, two in primary school and two in secondary school. These are:
- Key Stage 1: from 5 to 7 years of age - school years 1 and 2
- Key Stage 2: from 7 to 11 years of age - school years 3 to 6
- Key Stage 3: from 11 to 14 years of age - school years 7 to 9
- Key Stage 4: takes pupils to the age of 16 - years 10 and 11.
Key Stage 1
Key Stage 1 is made up of the following subjects: English, Welsh, History, Geography, Mathematics, Music, Science, Design and Technology, Information Technology, Art and Physical Education.
English (which is not compulsory for 5 to 7 year olds in Welsh-speaking schools or classes), Welsh, Mathematics and Science are known as the core subjects and your child will be assessed on her or her performance in them at the end of Key Stage 1 by his or her own teacher.
Key Stage 2
At Key Stage 2 (from ages 7 to 11) the National Curriculum in Wales is made up of the same subjects as Key Stage 1.
Welsh is taught as first language (and is treated as a core subject) in Welsh speaking schools or classes and as a second language in other schools or classes.
English, Welsh (where appropriate), Mathematics and Science are known as the core subjects and are the subject of statutory assessments consisting of Teacher Assessments and National Curriculum Tests (often referred to as SATs).
Children are also taught Religious Education according to the syllabus laid down by the local authority.
Each school has documents which set out the National Curriculum requirements and the local syllabus for Religious Education, the school deciding its own curriculum.
Key Stage 3
At Key Stage 3 the National Curriculum in Wales is made up of the following subjects: English, Welsh, Mathematics, Science, Design and Technology, Information Technology, History, Geography, Music, Art, Physical Education and Modern Foreign Languages.
All of the National Curriculum subjects are the subject of statutory teacher assessments and the core subjects of English, Welsh (as a first language), Mathematics and Science are assessed by National Curriculum Tests.
As for Key Stage 2, Children are also taught Religious Education according to the syllabus laid down by the local authority.
Key Stage 4
At Key Stage 4 the National Curriculum in Wales is made up of only the following five subjects: English, Welsh, Mathematics, Science and Physical Education. The Welsh language is a compulsory GCSE.
Children must also study Religious Education according to the syllabus laid down by the local authority and all schools are required to provide some provide some personal and social, work related and sex education.
At the end of KS4 pupils may sit for a number of examinations which include the Welsh Baccalaureate, GCSEs and vocational courses.
If you are moving to the counties Gwynedd, Flintshire or the Isle of Anglesey of where the bilingual schools policy is in operation, then visit our boarding school page for details of the North Wales Day Allowance.
Education in Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland the academic year runs from the beginning of July to the end of June, this means if your child is 4 years old on or before 1 July they will start school that year. The Department for Education for NI (DENI) will make exceptions for Service children. Schools will have the flexibility to put your child into the same year group as they would be in England.
Your HIVE will have further information on local schools.
Types of schools
In Northern Ireland there is a selective system of education and at the age of 11 pupils take a transfer test to determine whether they will go to a grammar school. There are several types of schools at both primary and secondary levels:
- Controlled schools
- Voluntary Maintained schools, mainly under Roman Catholic management
- Grant maintained integrated schools that take children of any religious denomination
For more information please contact us.
Choosing a school
When choosing a nursery place or school for your child there are several sources of information to help you make your decision. Visit the school (if possible):
- check out the school’s resources and the children’s work
- ask how the school involves parents
- would it suit your child?
Many schools hold open days and evenings where you can meet the staff and see children’s work or you could make an appointment to visit the school at another time, and ask to talk to the Head teacher.
Copies of secondary schools’ prospectuses are available on request directly from the schools. These contain a lot of information on how the school is run, what it offers to its students and the admissions policy. Many schools now have their own website.
Performance and examinations
The Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) is responsible for assessment of pupils at Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 and accreditation of Records of Achievement.
CCEA conducts public examinations such as GCSE, GCE, Certificate of Education Achievement (CoEA) and Graded Objectives in Modern Languages (GOML) for students aged 16 to 19 and beyond. It also administers the Transfer Test. For information on the Curriculum please view our NI National Curriculum page.
Education in Scotland
Under Section 32 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, children born between September and February have the option of starting school either in the August preceding their fifth birthday or of deferring to the next August. Children born between March and August must start school in the year that they become five. Thus the single August intake to primary schools takes in children from 4 years 6 months to 5 years 11 months in a few cases.
Parents who are considering deferring their child’s entry to primary school should discuss this with their education authority as early as possible. Local Authorities will usually ask parents to enrol their children for primary school several months before they are due to start.
In general, the school year begins in the second or third week in August. There are breaks of one or two weeks in October and at Christmas and Easter. Some Unitary Authorities (UAs)also set a short break in mid February. The school year ends around the end of June.
The majority of schools in Scotland are managed by the 32 UAs. These UAs normally offer school places to children on the basis of designated catchment areas. They determine the catchment areas for each of their schools and children living within this are normally provided with a place at the school serving that area. For further information contact us.
Transfer to secondary school is in the August when your child is between 11½ and 12½. This is later than in other parts of the UK, however your child will not miss out on education. Entry to a school is based on the catchment area determined as above, or on the primary school attended where the Local Authority has linked particular primary schools to the secondary school. However, all secondary schools have associated primary schools with which they have good links, and they usually spend time helping children to make the transition. Many secondary schools give primary pupils a ‘taster’ course in the term before they move.
If your child is going to fall between years on moving to Scotland, especially between primary and secondary then our advice is to talk to the schools involved, explain your situation and they may well be sympathetic. If you have any difficulty please contact us.
Choosing a school
When choosing a nursery place or school for your child there are several sources of information to help you make your decision:
- visit the school
- check out the school’s resources and the children’s work
- ask how the school involves parents
- would it suit your child?
Many schools hold open days and evenings where you can meet the staff and see children’s work. Or you could make an appointment to visit the school at another time, and ask to talk to the Head teacher. All schools produce an annual handbook that gives information on many aspects of the school, its curriculum and values.
Local Authorities also provide parents of Primary 7 pupils with comparative information about secondary schools in their area, which includes details of examination results, destinations of school leavers and attendance and absence levels.
HM Inspectorate of Education
If a school has recently been inspected, parents can also request a copy of the inspection report direct from HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) Central Management Unit by calling 0131 244 0648. HM Inspectorate Quality Standards and Audit Division also publish national reports on attendance and absence levels and (for secondary schools) examination results and leaver destinations which give information about individual school performance and Local Authority and national averages. The Scottish Executive produces a Choosing a School booklet for parents who want to find out more about making placing requests visit parentzone for more admissions information.
Education in Wales
The law does not require a child to start school until the start of the term following the child’s fifth birthday. However some admission authorities for primary schools offer places in reception classes to parents before their children are of compulsory school age, in accordance with their published admission arrangements. (In practice many Welsh authorities admit pupils to primary school in the September of the year in which they are five.)
If a parent is offered and accepts a place during the normal admission round but asks to defer their child’s entry to school until he or she is of compulsory school age, the admission authority may agree to the parent’s request provided the place is taken up within the same academic year.
Types of school
The 4 types of school in Wales are:
- community primary and secondary schools [There are no “middle” schools in Wales]
- voluntary controlled primary and secondary schools, usually affiliated to the Church in Wales
- voluntary aided schools, usually affiliated to the Roman Catholic Church
- foundation schools
In Wales there is no specialist school programme, there is access to both primary and secondary Welsh-medium education in all areas. Welsh is a core subject of the Welsh National Curriculum and is taught mainly as a first language in Welsh speaking schools (as defined in statute). In other schools, it is a non-core foundation subject and is taught primarily as a second language. If you are moving to an area where Welsh is the main or sole medium of instruction you can apply for Day School Allowance so that you children can attend an Independent school where they are taught in English. Contact us for details of the allowance and schools in your area.
Choosing a school
School governing bodies are under a duty to publish information about their schools and authorities must publish information about admission arrangements for all maintained mainstream schools in their area. In practice authorities produce a composite prospectus for parents which will include information such as:
- the name and address of each school and contact details
- the school’s classification
- a statement of the school’s religious affiliation
- time-scales for the admission process
- each school’s admission policy and over-subscription criteria which will be used to allocate places if there are more applicants than places available at the school
- details of catchment areas or feeder schools where appropriate
Authorities may also publish information on whether and to what extent schools in their area have been oversubscribed in the past, commenting on whether that is likely to be a good guide for the future.
A copy of the most recent prospectus will be available from the authority and may be available electronically on the authority’s website. The published reports of recent school inspections by Her Majesties Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales (ESTYN) may also be useful information for parents.
The devolution of political power to the Assemblies of Northern Ireland and Wales and the Scottish Parliament continues to result in increases to the diversity of educational policy between the four component countries of the UK.
One area of diversity relates to the funding in each country for students in higher (university or equivalent) education. There have been instances when service families moving across UK national boundaries have believed themselves to be disadvantaged financially by this diversity. This fact sheet aims to provide information which should enable service families to minimise or eliminate any such disadvantage resulting from Service induced mobility.
Where to start
Your starting point should always be with the local authority, Education and Library Board (Northern Ireland) or national government information sources in the country in which yo are living at the time you wish to apply for funding for higher education courses. If you are currently living overseas, you should read this guide before deciding on an appropriate start point. Within each UK country, there are web sites which you may find particularly relevant in clarifying eligibility for funding and in identifying the different types of funding available. These links are available at the bottom of this page.
Mobile service families and funding for places in higher education institutions
Students are required to apply for funding the in country in which they normally reside. Whilst families should apply to their own country, the mobile lifestyle of service personnel may not make this immediately clear. Residence can, for example, include where you currently live, where you were brought up, where you have spent most of your life, or where you own a property and intend to settle. Where service families may reasonably claim residence in more than one part of the UK, they might wish to consider the differing funding arrangement in each country in deciding before submitting an application.
This approach to deciding eligibility funding is common across the countries of the UK. In applying for funding from a country where you do not currently live, it is helpful to provide as much detail as possible as to why you regard yourself as resident in that country. This will help the funding agency understand your circumstances and assist the application process.
It is of note that, once funding has been agreed, that body will normally continue to fund that course, irrespective of where the family move. So, for example, if a further assignment requires the student’s family to move away from the country that has agreed to fund a course of study, then the funding agency for the country that has committed to the funding will continue to provide that funding for the duration of the course.
Foreign and Commonwealth service personnel and their accompanying dependants
The education departments of the UK government, the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Assembly government and the Northern Ireland Assembly decide which categories of student must be charged the lower ‘home fee’ with ‘overseas’ students paying significantly higher tuition fees. ‘Home’ students are subsidised by the tax payer. service personnel and accompanying dependants subject to UK immigration controls will normally be liable to pay the ‘overseas’ rate of fees rather than the lower ‘home’ subsidised fees until such time as they have acquired ‘settle’ status of UK nationality. Details of the qualifying criteria for ‘home’ fees are available on the UKCISA UK Council for International Student Affairs website.
Individuals are advised to research and check eligibility to both UK state benefits in support of higher education studies and fees prior to submitting applications and commencing studies.
If you would like further advice on applying for funding, see the websites listed under Related information at the bottom of this page.
Should you require further help, contact CEAS on 01980 618245 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making Service children count
If your child attends an English state school you or your child (if 12 years old or over) will be asked to confirm that you are a service family as part of the Annual School Census (ASC). This page explains why this information is requested and why it is so important.
Each January, state schools in England take part in an electronic census which enables central government to build up a profile of every school in the country. This profile includes information about the numbers of pupils:
- on roll
- with special educational needs
- from ethnic minorities
- with English as a second language
- from traveller communities
- with free school meals
The census does not identify children by name and no information is disclosed to the government which would enable children or their families to be traced by anyone outside each school.
From January 2008, schools have been required to indicate which children on their roll are Service children. This requirement has arisen because of concerns that the needs of Service children, particularly those arising from mobility and deployments, cannot be met effectively unless each school is aware of the Service children on their roll and unless local authorities and central government are aware of which schools Service children attend. It is intended that, over time, information from the census can be matched with attainment data held separately so that a clearer picture can be built up of the impacts of mobility and deployment on the attainment of Service children. Children will continue to be identified numerically and not by name; only schools will continue to hold names and addresses.
At the moment, English local authorities decide, in consultation with their schools, whether or not specific funding should be allocated to schools to enable them to meet more effectively the needs of Service children. Few authorities do this and a significant number of schools and local authorities believe that, as central government provides local authorities with no funding specifically for Service children, the allocation of such resources at local level can prevent local authorities from meeting adequately the needs of all their communities. CEAS is facilitating representations to a current review of school funding, making the case for central government to allocate to local authorities specific funding for Service children.
In considering the funding issue, it would undoubtedly be helpful for the government, local authorities and schools in England to have a much clearer view of the educational whereabouts, at least on an annual basis, of Service children.
Service parents are not required to identify their children as ‘Service children’ and, prior to the census in January 2008, many schools would not have known whether or not they had Service children on roll. Consequently, the first census probably under-reported the numbers of such children in English schools. Hopefully, since the last census, schools will have developed mechanisms for identifying Service children and will have a better idea about the rationales for collecting such information. The disclosure of such information continues to be optional for Service parents. It is legitimate for schools to ask children of 12 and over whether or not they are Service children, although guidance to schools does suggest that such questions should be asked sensitively. Parents who would prefer this information not to be disclosed should make this clear to their children.
The MOD hopes, however, that Service parents will decide to disclose this information to their children’s schools as evidence about the whereabouts and movement of Service children in England will be helpful in representing their needs to schools, local authorities and government. The census takes place on the working day closest to 16th January each year.
If you have any concerns or questions about this issue, please contact CEAS on 01980 618244
National curriculum in England
The National curriculum is compulsory in all state schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and for virtually every pupil up to the age of 16.
It sets out the most important knowledge and skills that every child has a right to learn. It is a framework given to teachers by government, so that all school children are taught in a way that is balanced and manageable, but hard enough to challenge them.
It gives standards that measure how well children are doing in each subject, so teachers can plan to help them do better.
Pupils aged 5 to 16 in state schools in England must be taught the National curriculum, which is made up of the following subjects: English, mathematics, science, design and technology, information technology, history, geography, music, art, physical education (PE) and a modern foreign language.
The National curriculum not only sets the subject areas to be taught but also the stages of learning that children should go through. These are called key stages and depend on pupils’ ages.
- foundation stage, 3 to 5 years, pre-school to reception
- Key Stage 1, 5 to 7 years, school years 1 and 2
- Key Stage 2, 7 to 11 years, school years 3 to 6
- Key Stage 3, 7 to 11 years, school years 7 to 9
- Key Stage 4, 14 to 16 years, school years 10 and 11
Children are expected to reach certain milestones in their learning by the end of each key stage. Assessments are carried out at these points to measure a child’s learning achievements.
Standards of achievement
The National Curriculum sets standards of achievement in each of the curriculum subjects for pupils aged 5 to 14. These standards range from level 1 to level 8 and are linked to the Key stages as follows:
- level 2, average standard which should challenge a 7 year old at the end of KS1
- level 4, average standard which should challenge an 11 year old at the end of KS2
- level 5 and 6, average standard which should challenge a 14 year old at the end of KS3
At least once a year schools must give you a written report on how your child is doing in all subjects.
If a child is 7, 11, or 14, the report will also include their results in the national tests. It will show how these results compare with other children of the same age. The report will also give the results of any public examinations, such as GCSEs, that the child has taken during the year.
At Key Stage 4 the National Curriculum gives schools the opportunity to offer pupils aged 14 to 16 a wider choice of subjects. This includes a range of GCSE and vocational courses.
Note that it is virtually impossible to duplicate a GCSE/vocational KS4 course at another school. If you are likely to move while your child is in this stage of education you should contact CEAS for advise and support. You may be entitled to retain you SFA.
Each school has a prospectus and this must explain the school’s curriculum, how the curriculum is organised for different year groups, and how it is taught.
Parents can ask to see copies of the National Curriculum documents, the RE syllabus the school is using and the school’s sex education policy.
Copies of the National Curriculum documents can be found in public libraries.
Find out more about your local schools through your local education authority.
For information on higher education visit the Department for Education
Ofsted reports can viewed here.
National Curriculum in Scotland
Guide to the Scottish Curriculum
Scotland has its own system of education that can be very different from that of the rest of the UK. The following is offered as a basic guide for Service families who may be posted to Scotland from elsewhere.
More detailed information is available from Education Scotland’s ‘Parentzone’. Although all of the individual educational systems of the UK countries can provided for children’s learning needs effectively, inevitably they are designed with the majority of the local population in mind who will be mainly static and have the expectation that children will remain in the same system throughout their school career. There may well be problems encountered with transferring between systems, particularly at key times in a child’s education.
Some of the terminology used in Scotland may appear familiar to that used under the English model of education but may represent substantially different arrangements. Considerable care should be taken when seeking to compare levels of attainment as no direct means of comparison currently exists. Furthermore, as pupils’ work in both systems may be assessed by teachers locally, variation can occur within and between the systems. Significant variation within a system should be mitigated by local and national moderation; however, when transferring between systems perhaps the best system of informing a receiving school of the standard of education achieved by an individual child is to make available evidence in the form of work and exercise books from the previous school. Most teachers will be able to identify from this where a child should be placed initially within the new system in order to start their studies, with finer adjustment occurring over time once the child has settled in.
Scotland has introduced a ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ for pupils starting in early years provision and lasting until the end of secondary 3. This is based upon 4 capacities; to enable each child or young person to be a successful learner, a confident individual, a responsible citizen and an effective contributor.
The 4 capacities are developed by a framework of experiences and outcomes which describe the expectations for learning and progression of each of the eight curriculum areas:
- expressive arts
- health and wellbeing
- religious and moral education
- social studies
The quality and nature of the learning experience is reflected in the development of attributes and capabilities and by achieving active engagement, motivation and depth of learning. An outcome represents what is to be achieved. Taken as a whole, the experiences and outcomes embody the attributes and capabilities of the 4 capacities.
The experiences and outcomes are set out in lines of development which describe progress in learning. Progression is indicated through five curriculum levels:
Early: the pre-school years and Primary 1, or later for some.
First: to the end of Primary 4, but earlier or later for some.
Second: to the end of Primary 7, but earlier or later for some.
Third and fourth: Secondary 1 to Secondary 3, but earlier or later for some. The fourth level broadly equates to SCQF Level 4.
Senior Phase: Secondary 4 to Secondary 6, and college or other means of study.
Assessment against the statements of experiences and outcomes in each curriculum area takes place throughout a child’s schooling. Individual progress in each area is recorded as a code reflecting the curriculum area, the curriculum level, where the statement sits within the development of the subject and the position of the statement within the line of development.
For example, a code of ‘MNU 0-11a’ indicates that the subject area is maths and numeracy (MNU), 0 indicates that the statement is within early level, 11 indicates that the statement sits within the 11th line of development in numeracy and the final letter indicates the position of the statement within the line of development. In this case, ‘a’ shows that it is the first statement.
Detailed information about assessment in each curriculum area is available at ‘Curriculum for excellence’
Scotland also has its own system of qualifications administered by the Scottish Qualifications Authority. The current system of Access 1&2, Access 3, Standard Grades, Highers and Advanced Highers is being reformed and the new qualifications are to be phased in with effect from August 2013. The new system will provide for National 1 to National 5 qualifications and Higher (new) and Advanced Higher (new) qualifications.
Information about the changes and the new qualifications can be found at Scottish Qualification Authority,
Further and Higher Education
Further education is available at Colleges in much the same way as in England. Often a residency criteria is applied for funding for services; this should not bar Service children accompanying parents. For those children returned to Scotland to pursue FE courses because appropriate courses may not be available from SCE overseas, the residency criterion may prove more problematical. There should be no problem for those whose Serving parent joined the Armed Forces at a careers office in Scotland, however, for others there may be problems depending upon the college concerned. If you encounter problems please contact us and we will do our best to assist.
Higher Education (University) courses in England are subject to tuition fees of up to £9000 each year and are also levied upon non Scotland resident students in Scotland. However, students ordinarily resident in Scotland do not pay tuition fees and may receive support awards if attending universities in other UK countries. Being ‘ordinarily resident’ is normally defined as living in Scotland for the 3 previous years.
The test applied by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland is again that of where the serving parent joined the armed forces. Please note that this is a residency criterion and not a nationality requirement. Therefore a child who may have been born and brought up in Scotland will not be entitled to funding if they were not resident in Scotland for the 3 years prior to seeking funding unless their Service parent joined the forces in Scotland. For those students who are nationals of non UK countries of the EU, entitlement exists for funding as per other EU nationals.
With effect from the academic year 2013 / 14 those students with dual EU (non UK) and UK nationality will not be entitled to tuition fee award simply because of their EU (non UK) nationality; further advice on this matter, and the current levels of bursaries and loans is available at Students Award Agency for Scotland.
Traditionally, Scottish University courses have been of 4 years duration although this is being reviewed.
Northern Ireland national Curriculum
Pupils aged 4 to 16 must be taught designated subjects (see key stage information below) above which schools can develop additional curriculum elements to according to their own initiatives and meet pupils’ individual needs and circumstances.
The curriculum is defined in terms of 4 key stages which cover the 12 years of compulsory schooling:
- key stage 1 : 4 to 8 years school years 1 to 4
- key stage 2 : 8 to 11 years school years 5 to 7
- key stage 3: 11 to14 years school years 8 to 10
- key stage 4: 14 to 16 years school years 11 to 12
The content of each subject taught within the NI curriculum is defined within the Programmes of Study and Attainment Targets.
Key Stages 1 and 2
The curriculum for Key Stages 1 and 2 includes: Religious Education, English, Mathematics, Science and Technology, History and Geography, Art and Design, Music and Physical Education, Irish (in Irish speaking schools only); and 4 educational cross-curricular themes (Education for Mutual Understanding, Cultural Heritage, Health Education and Information Technology). The educational themes are not separate subjects but are woven through the main subjects of the curriculum.
There are eight levels in each attainment target. For each level there is a Level Description indicating the type and range of attainment that a pupil working at that level should demonstrate. Teachers select the Level Description which best fits a pupil’s performance over a period of time.
At the end of Key Stage 1, it is expected that the majority of pupils will be working at Level 2. At the end of Key Stage 2, it is expected that the majority of pupils will be working at either Level 3 or 4.
Key Stage 3
All children in state schools are tested at the age of 14 in English, maths and science. Examinations are regulated by the Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA).
Parents get the results of the tests along with the teachers’ assessments of their child’s progress. The report explains how parents can arrange to discuss comments in the report with the school staff. It also shows the overall results of other children of the same age in the school.
Key Stage 4
GCSEs are the major qualifications taken by pupils at the end of compulsory education at the age of 16, as a series of exams in the individual subjects they have been studying.
Results are graded A* (the highest), A, B, C, D, E, F and G, with U, unclassified, for those who do not meet the minimum standard.
Some subjects are tiered to cater for different ability ranges. For example, those expected by a school to do best will be entered for papers covering grades A* to D; others will do papers in which the maximum possible grade would be a C. There are three tiers for maths.
Vocational GCSEs have replaced GNVQs and mean that 14 to 16 year olds can opt to pursue work related skills, studying part time in workplaces.
Both GCSEs and GNVQs can be taken at broadly equivalent foundation and intermediate levels.
Foundation apprenticeships which lead on to advanced apprenticeships, offer an alternative for those who lack the academic ability to tackle vocational GCSEs.
For more information on the curriculum and education in Northern Ireland visit the DENI website.
Northern Ireland pre-schools
Children born between 2 July and 1 July the following year will be entitled to a free preschool place for the year in which they are 4. Most places will be available for 5 sessions a week (each of around 2 ½ hours).
The pre-school year for children attending military playgroups or nurseries in Northern Ireland will be funded for 5 standard weekly sessions. The playgroup will claim the funding on behalf of the child. If no places are available at your military playgroup a non-availability certificate should be given to you that will allow your child to attend a community playgroup.
Free places should be available for all children in their pre-school year should you want one, however demand for places is high and in many areas free places are not easy to find.
Nursery education is provided in:
- nursery schools
- nursery classes attached to primary schools
- voluntary playgroups
The closing date for applications for pre-school education centres is 7 February; applications should be made direct to the centre of your choice. You must complete an official application form which is available from the centre itself. Schools will notify you directly if you have a place, places in pre-schools are limited in number so if you do not hear contact the school. Check with the school itself for its admission procedure and criteria.
If you wish to apply for a nursery place after 1 September then apply to the school using an official application form, you should hear from the school within a couple of weeks.
If your pre-school child has Special Educational Needs you should contact the nursery to allow arrangements for extra support or services for them and they may be offered an assessment.
The Education and Training Inspectorate are responsible for the inspection of all funded pre-school establishments. There are also curricular guidelines that must be followed. You can see reports on pre-school facilities online at the Department for Education Northern Ireland (DENI) website and more information all types of education in Northern Ireland from the Army’s Education in Northern Ireland pages.
Obtaining a school place in England
Every school has a published admissions number (PAN) for each year group and when the school reaches this number it is deemed to be full in that particular year group.
There are some exceptions to this, such as where the child has a Statement of Special Educational Need or where the school is selective and the child has not passed the entry test but in general terms if the school is not full they must give your child a place.
If you choose a school that is further away from your home than another one that has spare places you will be responsible for providing transport to and from the school.
You may find that the local school is full and unable to offer you a place. In this case you will need to contact the Local Authority to find the nearest school with places available.
You will need to consider the distance your child will have to travel each day to and from school.
Local Authorities are able, in some circumstances, to provide assistance with home to school travel. Each Local Authority will have it’s own transport policy, such policies are obtainable from LA websites and other admissions literature.
If you are not happy with any of the schools which have places available you have the right to appeal for a place at the school of your choice.
If you want to appeal for a school place you should notify the school and an Independent Appeals Panel will be established to hear your case.
The panel will decide whether it is more detrimental for the school to have one more pupil or whether it is worse for the pupil not to be given a place at the school.
If the panel find in your favour the school must make a place available for your child even though the number exceeds the PAN. However, at Key Stage 1 the government has made it unlawful for class sizes to go over 30 (except in certain circumstances) and the reasons for appealing are different.
We can help you if you decide to appeal for a school place. We can provide you with information about the process and discuss with you the various options. We will help you prepare your case and comment on the case presented by the school. We will also support you or arrange support for you at the hearing if we are able to.
Pre-school children with SEN
If you are worried about your child’s development, or you feel that they may not be hearing or seeing properly, speak to your health visitor, your family doctor, nursery or play group leader, teacher, or any other health or educational worker.
It is important to get help as soon as possible. Very young children, who may have delayed development or medical conditions/disabilities may benefit from early support from home based programmes such as portage, statements are rare for children under two. Help can be sought initially from your Health Visitor and the Local Authority (LA) whose specialist staff will liaise and advise you. Help and advice can also be sought from Soldier, Sailor and Airmen Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help ‘Special Needs Advisor’ on 020 7403 8783. Further Information on what is available and who to contact can also be found at your local HIVE. Many of the charities and support groups which exist for people with additional needs and their parents and carers may also be able to give you practical support and information to help you.
Children aged from 3 to 5 years who appear not to be making progress either generally, or in a specific aspect of learning, may need an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) or in some cases a statement to address a child’s individual need. LA’s differ in the help and support your child may receive, therefore if you are posted within the UK, contact your receiving LA as soon as possible to register your child and begin the process of assessment of your child’s new service. Your current service providers should help by providing information to the new authority about your child’s needs.
Pre-schools in England
Currently 15 hours of free early years of provision is available per week for 3 and 4 year olds, and in some cases vulnerable 2 year olds may be entitled to the funding.
To find out about pre-school education in your area contact the Children’s Information Service in your Local Authority.
Early education in England is provided in a variety of settings:
- state nursery schools
- nursery classes in state primary schools
- reception classes in state primary schools
- private nursery schools
- day nurseries
- integrated services and early excellence centres
All settings that receive local authority funding must:
- be registered with their local Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership
- work towards the Early Learning Goals
- be inspected on a regular basis by education inspectors appointed by the Office for Standards in Education (OfSTED)
You can ask to see information or reports on these local services and the latest inspection reports on the OfSTED website.
The Department for Education (DfE) Parent Centre offers support, information and advice about your child’s learning and the English education system.
Pre-schools in Scotland
In Scotland Local Authorities have a duty to ensure there is a free, part-time nursery place to all 3 and 4 year old children whose parents want one. The funded hours are usually provided over 5 sessions per week (each of around 2.5 hours) over the school year, although some authorities do have slightly different arrangements and a few providers cannot always offer the full five sessions a week. Parents who want fewer than five sessions per week, or need a special pattern of sessions (perhaps to fit in with their job), should discuss their needs with their UA, although variations cannot always be accommodated.
Parents who wish to send their child to pre-school before they are three years old should also discuss this with their authority. If there are places available, some authorities may accommodate this, although parents may be required to meet the costs.
If your child’s fifth birthday falls after the school year commencement date and before the end of the following February, Local Authorities are under a duty to offer an additional year of pre-school education if the parents request it. The child then starts school in the August following their fifth birthday. Local authorities will usually be able to offer a range of funded pre-school education places across the sector (with public, private or voluntary providers). Parents can also choose to pay for their children to receive full-time provision.
Pre-school education has two inspection reports:
- a care-focused inspection by Care Commission staff
- an education-focused inspections by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE)
Pre-schools in Wales
Provision ‘Early Years’ education in Wales is provided through ‘maintained’ and ‘non maintained’ sectors. The ‘maintained’ sector refers to nursery and reception classes in Local Authority run infant and primary schools. The ‘non-maintained’ sectors are independent or private play groups. These are available in almost all authorities and are funded through the Early Years Development Partnership.
The Welsh Assembly government are keen to develop both sectors, which will ultimately give greater choice in early years education provision for parents. The introduction of the ‘foundation phase’ will combine the early year’s education stage and key stage 1 (5 to 7years) and will ensure a smoother transition from the early years phase to full time compulsory education.
Types of Pre-School
The types of pre-school provision could include:
- schools - LA
- English medium playgroups, Wales Pre-school Playgroups Association, tel: (01686) 624573
- Welsh medium playgroups, Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin, tel: (029) 2043 6800
- childminders, National Childminders Association, tel: (029) 2034 2336.
Monitoring the service
Both Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales, Estyn, and the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales (CSIW) are responsible for monitoring pre-school services.
tel: (029) 2044 6446
Responsibility for allocation in England
As far as admissions are concerned, there are only 2 types of state school; those where the Local Authority in which the school is situated is responsible for deciding which children get places and those where the governing body of the school holds this responsibility.
At community and voluntary controlled schools, where the local authority is responsible for allocating school places, admissions to the schools at the August/September start of their first years of entry (depending on the age range served by each school) are now always managed and administered, at least initially, by the local authority centrally.
But, for other year groups and for each school’s first year (once the initial allocation of places has been made by the local authority), this responsibility is often devolved to each school.
Practice varies from area to area, so it is always wise to check what happens locally with the relevant local authority or us.
At academies, foundation and voluntary aided schools, the governing body of each school is responsible for the allocation of places. However, the local authority in which each school is situated has a responsibility for administering the applications made by its residents for places in these schools at the start of each of their first years of entry.
This arrangement does not alter the responsibility of each governing body to decide, within certain rules (admission criteria), which applications should be accepted and which rejected.
There are 2 types of faith school, voluntary controlled and voluntary aided:
- a voluntary controlled school is the joint responsibility of a local authority and a diocese or equivalent of a religious denomination or faith group. Most are either Church of England or Roman Catholic orientated. For these schools, the local authority is the dominant partner and is responsible for all aspects of admissions and most aspects of funding
- a voluntary aided school is also the joint responsibility of a local authority and a faith group but, in this case, the partnership is on a much more equal footing. Crudely speaking, the authority is responsible for all the day to day running costs, including staff and the faith group for expenditure on building projects and the employment of staff
There are two types of state school that select some or all of their pupils on the basis of either their overall ability or their ability in specific subject areas:
- grammar schools: these schools or their local authorities offer places to secondary age children who have undergone some form of selection testing (e.g. the 11+) and have met the schools’ published selection criteria. Often, where there are insufficient places in the schools for all the children who have met the selection criteria, places are offered to those with the highest scores. If children do not meet a school’s selection criteria, they will not be offered a place there
- specialist schools and colleges: some (but not all) of these schools are able to offer up to 10% of their places in each year group to children who are able to demonstrate, through an appropriate testing procedure, aptitudes for one or more specific subject areas (e.g. Arts, Technology, Languages, P.E.). Children who do not meet the subject selection criteria for these schools may be able to obtain places through ordinary applications
Every state maintained school must admit its pupils strictly through its published admission criteria and procedures. This information is obtainable from school and local authority prospectuses and websites.
Please contact us if you need help in obtaining this information.
It is worth noting that, on a day to day basis, schools are always run by headteachers and their staff and that headteachers are always accountable, in the first instance at least, to the governing bodies of their schools.
SEND Code of Practice
There is a Code of Practice on Special Educational Needs which schools should follow in order to meet children’s needs.
Statements of Special Educational Needs
For children aged 2 or more, special educational provision is educational or training provision that is additional to or different from that made generally for children or young people of the same age. A ‘graduated approach’ to assessment, implemenation and reviewing of provision to meet individual needs is expected in schools. If a child has not made the expected progress, despite considerable intervention and with evidence to prove it, the school or parents may consider requesting an Education, Health and Care Plan (which has replaced the previous Statement of Educational Needs). Information about this process will be on each Local Authority’s Local Offer website. A Statement of SEN is usually necessary if a child attends a special school or needs a high level of support in a mainstream school. In order to obtain a Statement of SEN the Local Authority has to carry out a Statutory Assessment. If a Local Authority refuses to carry out a Statutory Assessment or you are not happy about some aspects of the final Statement you can take your disagreement to the Special Educational Need and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) who will decide on what should be done.
The whole area of special educational needs is complex and you may need help and support. We can provide you with more information tailored to your needs and assist you with meetings at the school or the Local Authority. If you have to go to SENDIST we can help you prepare your case and make your presentation.
Special educational needs
Many children have some difficulties with their school work at some time during their school life. Often these difficulties will be related to a particular piece of work or new subject and with a little extra help or support they can be quickly overcome. In other cases a special programme of work is needed for a period of time so that the child can catch up with its peers. In a few cases the learning difficulties will be so severe that ongoing, specialist and long term support is needed.
The term ‘special educational needs’ has been defined legally. Children with special educational needs (SEN) all have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children of the same age. It can be difficult to identify children with SEN because all children develop at different rates. Children begin to talk at different ages and they learn to read at different ages. This is the same with any learning and you might feel that your child has a problem, but at a future date everything becomes clear to them.
If you feel that your child has a learning problem and you are concerned about their progress you should talk to their teacher. Tell them why you are concerned and if possible take examples of your child’s work about which you are worried. Examples of your child’s writing, mathematics, work or reading book are really helpful for the teacher. The teacher might be able to put your mind at rest or might decide to take further action. You might want to consider developing a portfolio of your child’s work in order to have a history of their schooling and keep track on their progress. The Moving school pack has more information about developing a portfolio.
Taking up a school place in England
Once you have been offered a school place for your child, you should enrol him/her as soon as possible.
If your child’s name has been taken from the top of a waiting list in a popular school or you have won a place through an appeal, there may be other parents waiting anxiously for a place. It is particularly in circumstances like these that schools and admissions’ authorities are anxious about holding places for more than a short time.
We have developed for Service parents and their primary age children a pack called ‘Moving Schools’.
This pack is intended to help parents who are moving their children from one school to another to gather useful information, in addition to the basic information passed between schools, to pass on to their children’s new school and to prepare them and their children for the move.
If you would like to find out more about this pack or receive one, you can call our Helpline or download a copy from this website. The packs should also be available from all GB HIVEs.
Home to school transport
It is your responsibility, as a parent, to ensure that your child attends school. Local authorities all have policies that determine the circumstances in which they are prepared to offer assistance with home to school transport.
These policies can be found in local authority admissions prospectuses and on many of their websites. Policies will be influenced by local factors such as whether or not the relevant area is rural or urban.
Assistance with transport may simply mean a bus pass to reduce or eliminate the cost of travelling to and from school. Help with transport is available for families on a low income.
Always check travelling distances and times before proceeding with an application and any appeal. Home to school transport policies for children with Statements of special educational needs usually take additional factors into consideration.
Information about SEN transport policies may be available in local authorities admissions prospectuses and/or in their publications about their special needs provision.
If in you are in any doubt, contact the relevant local authority or our Helpline.
The appeal hearing in England
Most appeals are heard by a panel of three people although, sometimes, more people sit on such panels.
In addition to the panel, there will be a Clerk (who may only be a representative of the person with whom you have been corresponding about the appeal) whose jobs are to take you into the panel, ensure everyone plays by the rules, record the reasons for the panel’s decision and to ensure that you receive in writing, within seven days of the hearing, the decision and the reasons for it.
Also present at the hearing will be one, or perhaps two, representatives of the admissions’ authority and/or the school who will be there to present the case for the admissions’ authority.
One member of the panel will identify him/herself as the Chair and lead the hearing. The panel has two decisions to make:
- has the admissions’ authority proved its case? and, if so,
- does your case outweigh that made by the admissions’ authority?
The nature of these decisions does alter as far as Infant Class Size Appeals (Key Stage 1) are concerned. Please contact our Helpline for more details.
Appeal panels must be independent of the admissions’ authority.
If you have any reason to doubt the independence of one or more members of the panel, make your concerns known to the Chair at the outset of the hearing. In well managed appeals, you will be asked if you have any objection to any member of the panel hearing your case.
Some appeals are divided clearly into their two component parts and you and those representing the admissions’ authority will be asked to withdraw after the admissions’ authority has made its case (and after you and the panel have had the opportunity to question the representative[s]). This is to enable the panel to consider first whether or not the admissions’ authority has made its case to the satisfaction of the panel.
If the panel is not satisfied that the authority has made its case, all parental appeals made on that day, for that year group, will be successful and you will not have to go through the ordeal of putting your own case.
Often, when appeals are conducted in this way, you will find yourself listening to the admissions’ authority’s case together with all the other parents involved. However, if the admissions’ authority’s case is accepted by the panel and the second part of the process (your individual appeal) is brought into play, your case will be heard only by the panel, the Clerk and the admissions’ authority’s representative(s).
Often, however, admission appeals are heard entirely on an individual basis and the two parts run consecutively, without a break. In these scenarios, you are unlikely to know whether or not the panel considers the authority to have proved its case until you learn the outcome of your appeal.
Basically, a hearing should run as follows:
Parents arrive in good time for the hearing and ask for directions to the hearing room at the reception desk (all appeals are held in public buildings, including schools). If you are being supported on the day by CEAS, we usually ask to meet with you at a mutually convenient location at least an hour before the hearing; this arrangement will be made with you by telephone prior to the date of the hearing. Please bear in mind that, very often, the panel will be hearing a number of cases during the course of the day and it is possible that the schedule will become delayed.
The Clerk will find you, greet you and either explain the process to you before taking you into the hearing room or take you into the room where the Chair or the Clerk will go through such matters with you.
Sometimes, the representative(s) of the admissions’ authority will also be waiting outside the hearing room with you. Although you and they will be on opposite sides in the hearing, most understand and are sensitive to the difficulties faced by parents regarding admissions and will make a point of introducing themselves to you and explaining their function to you.
Once the initial introductions and explanations have been dealt with, the Chair will ask the admissions’ authority’s representative(s) to make its case which should be based on their written submission and should not contain any significantly new information. Once the representative(s) have made a presentation, the panel will give you (and your representative) an opportunity to ask questions about the authority’s case; the panel will probably ask some questions as well. This is not the point for you to make your own case but only to consider that made by the admissions’ authority. This is the first part of the appeal and the panel will use the information they glean from it to decide whether or not the authority has proved its case. For this reason, it is vital that you challenge or question anything in the authority’s case that is unclear, that carries no supporting information or that you think may be incorrect.
After this point, the panel will either ask you and the authority’s representative(s) to withdraw whilst they consider whether or not the authority’s case is proven or the Chair will move straight on to the second part of the appeal which is the opportunity for you to put your case. It would probably be helpful if, before the hearing, you take the time to condense your case into a few bullet points on a single piece of paper. By doing this, you will have a prompt sheet to ensure you get your main points across without running the risk of getting lost trying to read your own submission in a pressurised situation. The panel will have read all the papers for the appeal and you should never simply read out your written submission. You can at this point, however, raise issues you may not have included in your original written submission. If you are being supported at the hearing by a CEAS representative or any other professional, they will want to discuss with you, prior to the hearing, the roles each of you will play in the appeal. CEAS representatives will encourage you to make your own case, if possible, as appeal panels are, quite rightly, more interested in what you have to say than any professional accompanying you.
Once you (and, if present, your representative) have completed your presentation(s), the admissions’ authority’s representative(s) and the panel will have the opportunity to ask you questions about your case. The purpose of this is not to cross examine you but should be to clarify any aspects of your case and/or, particularly if you haven’t said much, to draw out of you information which will be helpful to the panel in reaching its decision.
Finally, first the admissions’ authority’s representative(s) and then you will be asked to sum up your cases. At this point, you are not allowed to present any new information, only to summarise what you have said and written already.
The Chair will normally end proceedings by thanking everyone for coming, asking you if you’ve had the opportunity to say and ask everything you wanted and, if it has not been made clear already, to inform you of how and when you will be notified of the outcome of your appeal.
The tightness of this structure will vary from area to area; it will not necessarily be followed to the letter. Be prepared for differences but, if you believe you are being treated unfairly, always express your concern to the Chair.
The decision of the panel is final. If your appeal is successful, the school must admit your child; if not, you must make other arrangements for his/her education.
You should be aware that it is possible to appeal, at the same time, for more than one school although the hearings for each school will be held at different times. If you would like to do this, seek advice from our Helpline about how to differentiate your cases for each school.
Types of admissions to schools in England
For children starting school for the first time and for those moving from infant to junior school, the local authorities in which the schools are located co-ordinate admissions into Reception and Year 3.
Details about how to choose such schools and apply for places in them will be available in the relevant admissions literature published by the schools and the local authorities involved.
For children transferring from primary to secondary school (usually Year 6 to Year 7), the local authorities in which the families applying live initially co-ordinate admissions to the secondary schools.
Children and families living in a local authority area will receive from that authority, in the early part of the Autumn Term preceding transfer to secondary school, literature providing information about the options and procedures available to help them try to secure the secondary school place they want.
Deadlines for submitting applications for secondary school places in this way are now almost uniform throughout England: within the last ten days of October each year.
Please check with your local authority to find out the current deadline date if you are in this situation.
If you have applied for secondary school place in this way, your local authority must inform you on the 1st March preceding your child’s transfer of the result of your application.
If you have not filled in all the preference options offered to you by the local authority on its application form, it is highly likely that your application will go to the bottom of the queue for all the secondary schools in your area and, therefore, equally likely that the school offered in March will be unacceptable to you.
As with the applications for start of year places in Reception and Year 3, once the initial allocations have been made, much of the management of admissions is returned to schools.
For you, as a service family, the timing of your move into a new area is unlikely to coincide with these comparatively long procedural timescales. Nevertheless, each school and local authority will have, in their written admissions literature, published procedures to deal with ‘in-year’ or ‘casual’ admissions.
Such procedures may not enable you, immediately, to secure places in the schools you want for your children but the fact you are a Service family moving within a school year may well be helpful to you in pursuing an admissions appeal.
Please contact us for help if you want to appeal for a school place.