AFF in Action - Waving International Fees
AFF working to increase spousal access to training
Information on Access and Funding for Adult Education and Training
AFF in Action: Retention of Service Families Accommodation (SFA)
RBLI secures £250,000 grant to help military families
Troops to Teachers
Access to Success Route
The Department for Education has a very strict funding criteria and classed an American spouse, married to a NATO soldier, as an international student. This was because she was here as a temporary resident accompanying her soldier on a posting. This spouse approached AFF because the international fees were huge compared to normal ‘home’ rates and would be incredibly difficult to meet.
AFF approached Kent County Council’s Armed Forces Community Covenant to see if they could help look at removing this disadvantage. We are absolutely delighted that the Community Covenant acted straight away and approached the college directly resulting in the College Principal waiving the international fees:
Principal: “As a signatory to the Covenant, the College endorses actions to ‘level the playing field’ for serving members of the Armed Forces. I have therefore instructed our admissions staff to waive the fee differential and to treat the spouse as a ‘home’ student with regard to fees payable.”
AFF is concerned that spouses can face barriers when pursuing further education (FE) and training. These barriers include frequent postings, living in remote locations, overseas postings, poor access to childcare, and lack of funding (especially where there is no second income in the family).
We are working to increase spouse access to FE and training because we recognise this will open up more employment opportunities. A second income is crucial at a time when the Army is encouraging home ownership.
We are currently working with the MOD’s Partner Employment Project, the Armed Forces Covenant and service charities to look at funding avenues for training for spouses. We have already successfully lobbied for retention of SFA if spouses are in the middle of further/higher education courses, where they had a reasonable expectation of completing the course before their soldier was posted (see below for further details).
The Armed Forces Covenant has recognised that access to training is very important for spouses. This has resulted in initiatives such as the RBLI’s employability courses becoming nationally available for spouses and also the University of Wolverhampton offering dedicated businessstart-up courses for spouses and dependants. AFF is aware that more opportunities are being developed and we will update families as soon as they become available!
The Government and some Service and ex-Service organisations also offer financial assistance to serving and ex-Services personnel and members of their families to support a course of study or training. This may include assistance with the added costs and expenses associated with studying. Good places to start are:
EmploymentSupport Grant Scheme
- Employment Support Grant Scheme is a Legion welfare scheme funded by the
annual poppy appeal. It is specifically designed to help low skilled and
unemployed Legion beneficiaries with assistance to achieve a sustainable
- RBL AttendantsCompany Trust - RBACT provide grants to ex members of Her Majesty’s Forces who are in need of assistance to gain new qualifications in the civilian environment. Dependants can also be considered for grant support.
- President'sAward Scheme - Women's Section President's Award Scheme provides educational sponsorship by way of educational grants and scholarships to spouses of Non Commissioned Officers, both serving and ex-serving Armed Forces personnel. Assistance is awarded to those seeking first degrees, and grants are awarded towards re-training programmes, books, travel costs and other related costs.
- www.skills4schools.org.uk/page.asp?id=45 – this page is dedicated to funding information for teacher/TA training.
- The National Careers Service website provides careers advice and information
on a wide range of jobs, training course resources and funding.
- Information on Apprenticeships – some over 25 places available
- www.gov.uk/grant-bursary-adult-learners - Adult learners can apply for grants and bursaries to help pay for courses and training. You usually don’t have to pay this money back. E.g. NHS bursaries for nurse training.
- Opportunities for OU funding
- You may find that your situation meets the criteria for grants and scholarships from one of the institutions on this website: www.scholarship-search.org.uk
- Funding information North East - www.fine.org.uk
- Turn2us - www.turn2us.org.uk
In 2012 AFF successfully lobbied for retention of SFA to allow spouses to work their contractual notice period if their soldier is short-toured. We also wanted spouses to be able to retain SFA if they were in the midst of further/higher education courses, where they had a reasonable expectation of completing the course before their soldier was posted.
We are extremely pleased that policy is now in place, within the relevant JSP (JSP 464 part 1 0822 point l), to enable spouses to retain SFA once a case to the Housing Allocations Service Centre (HASC) has been made and agreed.
Where a spouse is undertaking adult educational or training courses aimed specifically at improving their skills for work and/or opening up new employment opportunities which was started in the realistic expectation that it would have been completed in the period of the Service person’s current assignment (i.e. prior to a declared Future Availability Date on the SP’s Assignment Order) but the Service person is instead assigned elsewhere before the end of the course. A case may be made through Unit HR office to the HASC for the retention of SFA/SSFA. This must be demonstrated with conclusive evidence, including addressing course transferability, supported by Unit HR staff and presented to the HASC. Such cases are to be considered with the Local Service Commander and the relevant single Service Housing Colonel, as required, and include permitting retention on a temporary surplus basis, offering alternative accommodation in the same area (if available) or in areas where surplus SFA exists. It must not lead to entitled personnel being accommodated in SSFA
The Army Families Federation is delighted that Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) are going to use this grant to extend the provision of its successful LifeWorks employability courses to Armed Forces spouses and partners at a national level. The £250,000 from the Armed Forces Covenant LIBOR Fund will help military families find and secure sustainable employment. Spouses face a number of employment barriers including frequent moves and overseas postings. AFF believes that these funded employability courses are a key initiative in removing these barriers and will give spouses far wider access to the employment market.
The LIBOR Fund was established to support the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant which states that military personnel and their families should not face disadvantage in the community as a result of their service to their country.
Kent-based RBLI, which has been providing training, jobs, housing and welfare to the Armed Forces community for nearly a century, will use the grant to extend provision of its successful LifeWorks courses to military spouses and partners.
The LifeWorks courses were originally designed to provide free career advice and employability coaching to people leaving the Armed Forces. The training was felt to be especially important because individuals often join the military directly from education, therefore gaining very little civilian job searching, interview and work experience.
However, RBLI has also noticed a need among military families whose employment prospects can be disadvantaged because they are uprooted when their partners are relocated or deployed, resulting in sporadic job histories or simply putting their careers on hold.
The charity received the £250,000 grant following two pilot training courses for military families in Kent. One was run in conjunction with SureStart and Brompton Barracks in Chatham and the other at Shorncliffe Barracks in Folkestone. Both pilots were successful, with spouses and partners saying they felt more confident about their job searching skills and had higher self-esteem as a result of the course.
Steve Sherry CMG OBE, RBLI’s Chief Executive, is delighted that the charity will be able to help even more families: “As a result of the grant we will now be able to deliver the courses nationwide, hopefully reaching over 500 military families in the next two years.
“With some service personnel having to leave the Forces because of redundancy or as a result of injury, it’s even more important that their partners have the skills and confidence to find and gain employment.”
As childcare is the biggest issue for spouses and partners wanting to attend LifeWorks courses, RBLI will also be piloting a variety of training formats. As well as training at barracks around the country, these formats may include, peer-to-peer training, distance learning programmes, webinars, and residential courses held at RBLI’s head office in Aylesford, Kent.
The government has launched Troops to Teachers, a new scheme designed to make it easier for highly-skilled former members of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force to become teachers. Troops to Teachers will provide teacher training opportunities to service leavers - with significant extra benefits including salaries while training, bursaries and bespoke training. For more information, click here.Back to top
Are you interested in university study but not sure whether you have the study skills or the funds to have a try? You may want to consider the Access to Success Route, The Open University's unique and low-cost entry route to further study. If you live in England and have an annual household income of less than £25,000, you may be successful in gaining a place. Visit www.open.ac.uk/learning/access or speak to AFF’s Employment, Training, Allowances and Money Specialist on 0779 9045955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.Back to top
If you are considering taking a distance learning course why not look at the Open and Distance Learning Quality Council who accredit distance learning providers.