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Diplomatic Service: Private Education

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 10th July 2013.

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Photo of Pamela Nash Pamela Nash Labour, Airdrie and Shotts

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department spent on the payment of private school fees for personnel (a) by country and (b) in total in each year since 2010.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Members of the diplomatic service must be prepared to serve anywhere in the world at any time during their career, sometimes at very short notice. Those who are parents are legally obliged to ensure that their children receive a full-time education. Most parents prefer to take their children with them abroad, but in some countries we do not permit staff to take their children either for health or security reasons. Where staff cannot or choose not to take their children overseas, we contribute towards the costs of boarding school education in the UK for children up to the age of 18, provided that officers meet specific eligibility criteria. This enables the children to have stability and continuity of education, which is particularly important for secondary school age children. We provide financial support to all diplomatic staff, irrespective of grade, who serve overseas, to help enable them to meet this requirement.

We expect children who accompany their parents on postings overseas to use free state schooling if it is available locally and suitable. If suitable English-language schooling is not available free of charge locally, but is available at fee-charging schools, we pay fees to enable children to receive the education they would be entitled to in the UK.

The costs to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) for children of FCO staff attending school in the UK, and for schooling overseas for children at posts with their parents, was as follows:

  2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
CEA (UK schooling) total 13,067,398 15,448,371 14,926,061
Schooling at posts overseas 11,520,900 11,761,394 12,339,254

The CEA figures from 2011-12 are not directly comparable with earlier years. Costs vary year on year according to the numbers and ages of children at school, and the location of staff claimants. Additionally the FCO has changed the way it records its management information so that other partners in Government are now included in the overall figures.

The breakdown for the costs of schooling at posts overseas is not held centrally and would be available only at disproportionate cost.

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