Yes, and?

Military families have been given £246m of taxpayers’ money over the past three years to subsidise their children’s private education, it has emerged.

Elite schools such as Eton, Harrow and Gordonstoun alone received nearly £2 million last year, under a Ministry of Defence scheme which helps servicemen and women pay school fees.

It’s a standard part of military pay, and has been for generations.

The MoD wants to be able to pick up units and place them in various places around the world at will. Thus is subsidises the British education of British children in the British school system. The alternative is to have schools up to A level standard on every base around the world that families might get posted to. Quite possibly the more expensive option.

There’s a useful way at kicking back at those who would dismantle this system. Just point out that the Diplomatic corps gets a better (more of the fees are paid) deal than the military and just watch the FCO quash any attempt to end the system.

37 comments on “Yes, and?

  1. I would note that it is no longer a “standard part of military pay”. Although you can still get “Continuity of Education Allowance”, it is now much more difficult both to qualify for and, unlike in the past, you need to remain in a qualifying position to keep it.

    I believe that, historically, the children just needed to remain at the same school (age-related changes were automatically approved) and you merely needed to remain eligible for deployed roles.

  2. For f**ks sake. It is hard enough to get decent officers for the Army. Insisting that we screw their children over is not going to help.

    And screw the FCO. It is not as if they are on our side anyway. But there is no evidence that we are getting higher quality there than, say, the BBC. Most FCO bods I meet would make pretty good middle ranking journalists.

    The question is what do multinationals pay for their employee’s children? If they are not ensuring a decent education, I assume it would be hard to get decent employees. Especially for those in mid-career who have teenage children.

  3. Multinationals typically pay for private school where the employee is sent – hence International Schools all over the place. The US has small-town-USA army bases all over the world with schools and bowling alleys and movie theatres. Just different ways of achieving the same thing. The multinationals are figuring out how much it all costs, though, and cutting right back. I remember GE doing the maths in the 90’s and realising they had about a thousand expats in the system at an average cost of about $1 million each (in addition to ordinary salary and bonus) in housing, tax, cost-of-living, school and travel subsidies. Big numbers.

    246 million is 10,000 children in boarding school, maybe? so under 5,000 officer parents? Probably cheaper than building schools in Stanley and Belize and Akrotiri.

  4. By the way, £2 million for Eton, Harrow and the rest of them means about 100 children at current school fee levels. At least I think so. Eton is over £25,000 a year now?

    I don’t think that is enough. I think that all the children of officers, especially those serving overseas, should be able to go to Eton if they want.

    However it is not unreasonable. There are over 80,000 soldiers in the Army. That works out at about £3,000 per soldier. I would assume most of them have children at some point in their enlistment. That is so low, it can’t be what they are complaining about.

    There are about 15,000 officers in the Army. That is about, what?, £17,000 per officer? That seems more reasonable. I don’t see why anyone would object to that.

    The thing is that it must include the Navy and Air Force too. A lot more officers. Say £5,000 per officer. Come on, this is a bargain.

    The real scandal is that there is about one officer for every 5.5 or so soldiers. Getting to be Third World stuff really.

  5. One alternative would be to massively expand state boarding provision – but that would be pitched as “pushy middle class war mongering bastards are stealing boarding provision from working class kids trying to escape a life of cotton gins and chimney sweeping”

  6. Elite schools such as Eton, Harrow and Gordonstoun…

    Gordonstoun elite? Since when?

  7. @Meissen – rich bastards send their children there using money they’re literally torn from the hands of starving working class orphans, therefore it’s elite.

    The freelance journo who wrote it is a final year student at Oxford, which clearly is NOT elite because ummm because Reasons that’s why no you shut up

  8. It’s pretty obviously the case that someone deployed abroad needs to have their kids in boarding school.

    The objection from the left is that they don’t believe that private schools should exist, and therefore the state subsidising them is wrong – and there should be state boarding schools instead.

    [There are mad bits of the left who think that the problem here is that we have a military. They are mad]

    It’s worth pointing out that much of the left don’t think it’s ethically inconsistent to have kids in private school while opposing the existence of private schools. If you think that parents shouldn’t be able to help their children get a better education than others, that doesn’t mean that, given the system exists, it’s morally wrong to make use of it. It’s a collective action principle, which I absolutely acknowledge that many people on the right don’t get, but the point is that the proposal will only work if everyone signs on to it; given it’s not compulsory, participation of only some people will necessarily fail, so there’s no point doing it through individual action.

    [Think of it like a kickstarter which doesn’t collect the money if not enough contribute]

  9. My grand daughter is currently in this system and is getting a fine education.
    It was explained to me that the private school gets the cash a state school gets per pupil. The parents still pay the boarding fees.

  10. I had a close family member who was an officer posted abroad. He got the free education for his kids, a small overseas posting bonus and I think a travel allowance to get back to Blighty once a year.

    Another family (friends), foreign office bod of the corresponding rank, got all that. Then they got an extra housing allowance to ensure suitably impressive accommodation, they got catering allowance to hold dinner parties every two months, an allowance to buy a 12 set of best china, allowances for cleaning and ironing.

    The theory behind this was that the FCO chap was ‘representing’ the uk and so there was an expectation he would entertain foreign dignitaries. He didn’t, apart from the dinner parties where he would invite some parents of children who were his kids’ friends, who just happened to be diplomats themselves. It’s a nice life.

    Agree with the general theme of posters above. It’s a perfectly reasonably benefit to offer if you want to retain the ability to post people worldwide at a moment’s notice. If you didn’t offer it, you would get mass resignations.

    There are too many officers these days, although to a certain extent it’s an issue of operational leverage; less soldiers unfortunately doesn’t mean proportionately less administrative structures.

    At least it’s not as bad as the navy, more admirals than ships they say!

  11. Simple solution – declare the Army to be a ‘non-profit’ organisation. By the Left’s rules this means that high salaries and large expenses are now permissible.

  12. As going into the military is often a family affair over generations, it is in the military’s best interest to have well educated officers, untainted by anti gun, anti military sentiments fostered in state schools, so paying for the education of officers’ children reaps a dividend when these children in turn sign up.

  13. Flatcap Army points out that the journalist used to be a researcher for Isabel Oakeshott.

    That explains why he regards Gordonstoun as an “elite school” – Oakeshott went there.

  14. Richard Gadsden said:
    “The objection from the left is that … there should be state boarding schools instead”

    Oddly there are a few state boarding schools – a couple of dozen or so. Some just have a handful of boarders with parents overseas, but some are full-on majority-boarding. They aren’t very well known.

  15. The real scandal is that there is about one officer for every 5.5 or so soldiers. Getting to be Third World stuff really.
    That may be justified – a cadre to support rapid expansion if required.
    Plus, at the start of a war there’s a load of wastage among officers – Tommy won’t go forward without a Rupert in front of him.

  16. “Elite schools such as Eton, Harrow and Gordonstoun…

    Gordonstoun elite? Since when?”

    Ditto Harrow. Surely an elite school is Eton, Winchester, or Westminster?

  17. >As going into the military is often a family affair over generations, it is in the military’s best interest to have well educated officers, untainted by anti gun, anti military sentiments fostered in state schools, so paying for the education of officers’ children reaps a dividend when these children in turn sign up.

    Although James Delingpole claims that Eton now churns out SJWs.

  18. I would note, pace Richard G, that there are, indeed, two state military boarding schools. Queen Victoria, in Dunblane, and the Duke of Yorks, somewhere in the heathen south (okay, Dover, I googled it.)

  19. I’m with NDR, a peacetime army should have a surfiet of officers, including NCOs, so that it can enlarge quickly if the balloon goes up.
    Not so important for the navy or air force, you can probably train an officer from scratch in the time it takes to build a ship or a plane.

  20. The alternative is to have schools up to A level standard on every base around the world that families might get posted to.

    Fine with that abroad but not here. The alternative here in the UK is one of the many State boarding and day schools. If you want to pay for Harrow, do it yourself out of family assets, don’t ask for a handout over and above what parents already collect from non-parents.
    And don’t deprive us of that exchange we’d get from foreigners filling those private school places instead.
    This fix would work better if the minimum wage were abolished and it was easier to hire nannies to look after your children at day school while daddy is away giving military advice to brown people. But the current distortion should go.

  21. That may be justified – a cadre to support rapid expansion if required

    As with the German army pre-WW2. Restricted to a certain size by treaty, they were very choosy who they let in and effectively built it as an NCO and higher Officer pool for future rapid expansion.

  22. It’s not just officers who are entitled but all ranks, although the amount varies.

    When I served the allowence was nowhere near enough to cover the average boarding fees and most people had to top up quite a bit, which tended to mean that only Sgts and above used it.

    As they were only allowed flights for main holidays most of those using it tended to choose schools near grandparents who could provide family continuity and somewhere to go at half term and exeat weekends.

  23. The Meissen Bison – “Gordonstoun elite? Since when?”

    Clearly “Eliteness” is like a cure for scrofula – it is imparted by the Royal touch. So that would be – since they bullied the crap out of Big Ears.

  24. NDReader – “That may be justified – a cadre to support rapid expansion if required.”

    We have more admirals than ships and more generals (if you include Brigadiers) than tanks. They are not keeping a surplus of captains so the Army can expand in case of war. They are keeping an excess of Top Brass so they can all have jolly nice pensions.

    If war breaks out the last thing that will be any use will be a dozen two star generals with the Distinguished Filing and Paperwork Cross.

  25. HDVN : “Although James Delingpole claims that Eton now churns out SJWs.”

    Purge it then. The military families themselves are hardly likely to be womiccumalobus but they are obvious targets for attempted womi-mind-control.

  26. Gordonstoun *is* elite – for those who want their sons to be able to tough it out in the armed forces.
    I was, and am,glad I didn’t go there – cross-country in the snow is one thing, Gordonstoun was another.
    Incidentally, Hailebury and ISC was the standard place to send army kids but you cannot mention that because it was Clem Attlee’s alma mater and it is not allowed for any PC journalist to mention that he went to an “elite” school. Tony Blair must be disappointed to learn that Fettes, which got paid 60+% more than Eton, is not an “elite” school – maybe any school that educates “New Labour” MPs automatically is regraded as a “sink school”.
    You don’t want kids on an army base – particularly not teenage girls – so you send them to boarding school. That is a no-brainer.

  27. You don’t want kids on an army base – particularly not teenage girls – so you send them to boarding school. That is a no-brainer.

    Dunno. Think the squaddies might be quite keen.

    Ohhhh. You mean as a parent. Probably not in that case.

  28. @dearieme – I think that Lord Peter Wimsey is probably the final arbiter on this (Murder Must Advertise). He asseverates that there are two decent public schools, Eton and Harrow, “though there’s a place in Winchester if you ain’t too fussy”.

    @SMFS – any chap who gets caught on a cherry brandy bender deserves a lot of what he gets and probably more besides, irrespective of his ears.

  29. I went to a state boarding school of sorts; it was a grammar, that had boarders, mostly the kids of forces parents, mostly girls. Homesick, lonely girls. Happy days…….

    Of course, my general obstinacy and frequent run ins with Inn keepers, rockers and the filth meant that most people assumed I would end up in a state boarding school of a different type. Disappointingly for them, I managed to scrub up OK.

    But those lovely, lonely, teenage girls awaiting consolation in my kindly arms……. Sigh…….

  30. For Harry:
    Groaning with greasy pleasure
    And they’ve blown up the YWCA like a giant balloon
    And sent it out to sea full of screaming, lovely, lonely girls

    A fan of Dead Ringer by any chance?

  31. TMB. Alternatively as Sir Ranulph Fiennes puts it, “on returning from South Africa after the war, I was delighted to discover that as a Wyckham Fiennes, (William of Wyckham founded the school) I was eligible to go to Winchester College for free. However, unfortunately I was too stupid to pass their entrance exam, so the only option was for me to go to Eton”

  32. @ Mark T
    +1
    Winchester (together with Balliol Classical and Trinity Maths) Scholars are (99.9% of) the intellectual elite
    Eton isn’t elite – just rich (and not utterly stupid). It is an “Americanism” debasement of the English language to describe the rich as “elite”

  33. In any given year we had a dozen or so kids whose fathers were in the services. Quite few tankies with BAOR back when the Army had more than two dozen tanks in its inventory, and several boat drivers with the RN. One mate’s dad was in the SBS. Scariest-looking bugger I ever saw. We also had an American guy whose father was an F-15 pilot.

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