For all LiNCHigher's work we are guided by The SCiP Alliance’s definition of a Service child: 

A person whose parent, or carer, serves in the regular armed forces, or as a reservist, or has done at any point during the first 25 years of that person’s life.

Service children: some facts

Service children are educated in over 10,000 schools and as such are likely to be educated in schools that are within reach of all higher education providers.

Students from military service families often display many positive qualities including open-mindedness, pride, determination, resilience and being self-possessed. Nevertheless, there are a range of particular challenges that may be associated with being a child of a current or former military service personnel and this may impact on the likelihood of accessing and succeeding in higher education.


The children of Service personnel are seen to attain as well as or better than their peers over all.


Moving between schools can impact on students’ academic outcomes. This can occur because of delays, poor communication between schools, inadequate transition arrangements (particularly for those with additional learning needs and those sitting examinations) and differences in curriculum provision. Mobility can also impact on students’ emotional wellbeing, for example through disrupted friendships and an increased potential for bullying.

Deployment and separation

Parental deployment and separation can place strains on family life and impact upon the educational and emotional wellbeing of service children. 


Service Pupil Premium

What is Service Pupil Premium (SPP)?

The Service Pupil Premium (SPP) was introduced in 2011 by the Department for Education to aid schools in providing additional support that children of service families may need and is part of a government commitment to deliver the Armed Forces Covenant.

What is it for?

It is designed to be used to provide pastoral support to children who have parent(s) serving in the UK Armed Forces. Schools can choose how best to spend the funding in response to the specific needs of individual pupils.

How does the SSP support students from Armed Forces families?

Examples of support could include nurture groups or counselling provision. Funding can be put towards employing/training a dedicated member of staff to oversee personal and academic progress of service children. The provision of a Student and Family Support Team may work best for one school whereas a trained play therapist or mentor who might be an ex-Serviceman could be better for another.

It shouldn’t be used to fund routine school trips or extra art/music lessons, but it can be used for ‘military-specific’ trips or to enable a child to take part in activities they can’t do because a parent has been deployed or that enables them to better understand the role of service personnel.

Computer equipment that enables Skype calls to deployed parents or camera equipment that allows children to send photographs and videos may be another way of spending the funds.

What is the difference between the Pupil Premium and the Service Pupil Premium?

The Pupil Premium is designed to ‘raise attainment and accelerate progress within disadvantaged groups’.

The SPP is an additional premium targeted only at service children and the two premiums should be treated and accounted for separately.

Criteria that include pupils who are eligible for Free School Meals (FSMs) and certain guardianship orders/care orders/under Local Authority Care must be met in order to qualify for the Pupil Premium or the Pupil Premium Plus . The funding amounts vary and schools are held accountable as to whether the money is spent effectively.

Although funding is designed to raise attainment it can also be spent on ‘non-academic outcomes and improvements including mental health and activities that will also benefit non-eligible pupils’.

Examples of non-academic use could include school breakfast clubs and helping with costs of for example, music lessons or school trips.  

Eligibility criteria

Pupils attract SPP if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • one of their parents is serving in the regular armed forces (including pupils with a parent who is on full commitment as part of the full time reserve service)
  • they have been registered as a ‘service child’ on the January school census at any point in the last 6 years, even if the parent has left the Armed Forces (Ever 6 service child measure this can be claimed for six years after leaving or until end of year 11 whichever is sooner)
  • one of their parents died whilst serving in the armed forces and the pupil receives a pension under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme or the War Pensions Scheme

Children have to be flagged as service children ahead of the autumn school census deadline. Service parents need to make the school aware of their status by talking to the head teacher or school admin staff.

How is the SPP claimed?

Throughout England, state schools, academies and free schools are able to claim the current rate of £310 per child for reception age through to Year 11. The payment is paid directly to schools but can only be claimed if the child(ren)’s name are entered in the school’s roll. Parents must ensure that the schools are aware of their service status.

The RAF Families Federation's top seven things parents should know about SPP

  1. Service Pupil Premium (SPP) was introduced in England under the Armed Forces Covenant in recognition of the impact of service life on children
  2. Schools only receive SPP for children registered as service pupils each January
  3. Schools can only record children as service pupils if the parents identify them as such
  4. Schools may not receive SPP until nearly 18 months after the child has started at the school
  5. Schools can continue to receive SPP for children whose parents have left the armed forces for up to five years
  6. When a child moves school they will not automatically continue to be flagged as a service child
  7. SPP is only one type of pupil premium

More information can be found here:

Part of a quality family life is supporting your children and their education, wherever you are and whenever you move.

Support for Spouses/Partners of UK Armed Forces personnel

Partners and spouses of UK Armed Forces personnel can sometimes find it challenging to pursue their own education goals. We recommend discussing your circumstances with the university or college you are interested in attending before you apply. They’ll give you more information about your options, and the support they can offer.

If high mobility is preventing you from applying to university or college, it might be worth investigating the different routes you can take, such as distance or online courses – find out more about distance and part-time learning. You may be able to change your university or college if you move – find out more about changing your course or provider. If you already have a professional qualification, refresher courses might help you back into a career.

If you also have parenting or care responsibilities, additional support is available to help you during your studies, and with your transition to higher education:

Find out about the support available to students with parenting responsibilities

Other Resources

Here you can find a number of downloadable resources that provide information on support, funding and personal statements.

LiNCHigher Guide to Higher Education for Children from an armed forces family. 

Providing young people and their families with information on all aspects of educational pathways, applications, student life and financing

Funding and Support for RAF Children in Schools

This booklet highlights some of the organisations that are actively offering funding and support to service families. It also contains tips to help with funding applications.

Armed Forces Family Life

A PowerPoint presentation that gives insight into some of the unique challenges faced by service families.

RAF Families Federation FAQs

A series of answers to commonly asked questions regarding service children.

UCAS Information for Teachers, Advisers and Referees

A concise outline of the challenges faced by service children and how you can help as a teacher, adviser or referee.

UCAS Information for HE Admissions Teams

A concise outline of the challenges faced by service children and how you can help as a member of a HE admissions team.