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Fears over service pupils' progress

The children of armed forces personnel who frequently move home because of their parents' job may struggle at school, MPs have warned.

The Commons Defence Committee found that while the progress of service children was broadly comparable with other pupils, those whose families had to be mobile did not do as well as those who did not.

"It is encouraging to note that service children's progress is broadly in line with other pupils even though they face considerable challenges. However, mobile service children do not perform as well as non-mobile service children," the committee said.

"With greater recognition of their needs and focused additional support, service children could do even better. The Government should ensure that these children are given every opportunity to maximise their potential."

The committee also highlighted what it said was a conflict between the Armed Forces Covenant - setting out the nation's obligations to its fighting men and women - and the Schools Admissions Code.

While the covenant says service children may need special arrangements to access school places, the code - which has the force of law - sets out a strict timetable and criteria for admissions.

"Children of members of the armed forces should have the same standard of, and access to, education (including early years services) as any other UK citizen in the area in which they live," the committee said.

"The Government must demonstrate its commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant by seeking the co-operation of the devolved administrations and local authorities to ensure that its obligations are met."


From Belfast Telegraph