'Many independent schools provide vital stability to the families serving our country across the globe’

Posted on: 26 Apr 2024

Hester Anderson, of Aysgarth School, explains why the provision of independent education for military families is so important in offering stability and continuity for the children of service personnel. 

The Armed Forces offer military families something called the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA), which can cover up to 90 per cent of boarding school fees. This allows service personnel to be deployed across the globe without disrupting their children’s education. Typically, a Forces family will have to move house every two years so even without deployment, this allowance provides stability and continuity during those precious and formative school years. 

As the sister of two siblings who are both in the Armed Forces and an aunt to two young children who are supported by the Continuity of Education Allowance, I have seen first hand the benefits of this support. The children are free to make friends and put down roots within their school community. They have a place to call home. They have consistency and routine, surrounded by familiar and friendly faces. They are cared for by a team of adults who have their best interests at the heart of what they do. They have fun and make memories, and importantly, they have continuity of education. Serving in the Armed Forces is a role that brings pride and honour for most military personnel, but it can add certain challenges for families, especially when you have a young family in tow, so this support is vital. 

At Aysgarth School, we understand what it means to be a part of a military family and we look to support our military families in lots of different ways; flexible communication to work around different time zones, arranging meetings and catch-ups that tie in with pick-up times, an outstanding pastoral support network and a cosy and homely boarding environment. The school is inclusive and feels like a family; a home away from home. All of these things help the child to flourish and feel secure and nurtured – and we all know that a long-term stable environment provides more opportunities to develop potential. 

But it isn’t just one-way traffic. Service families and their children also offer something special to our school community. They come from all over the UK and the wider world, adding a richness and diversity to school life. They bring with them different experiences and life stories, and they contribute fully to the boarding experience. Independent schools are modern and diverse, as are the families within them.

The majority of independent schools aren’t wealthy institutions; they are small communities. Small communities that are providing vital stability to the families who serve our country across the globe.

Pupils and staff at Aysgarth School.

About Hester Anderson

Hester Anderson is a house parent at Aysgarth School. She is also the wife of Aysgarth headmaster Jonathon Anderson, a sister to two military siblings, and aunt to two children in receipt of CEA support.