GMB call on Ministry of Defence to secure future of Lypiatt Primary School

Download as PDF

GMB call on Ministry of Defence to secure future of Lypiatt Primary School in Wiltshire after withdrawal of funds from MoD Education Support Fund. “We are greatly concerned that the interests of service families and these vulnerable children are not being adequately protected”, says GMB Southern

GMB Southern have called on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to secure the future of Lypiatt Primary in Wiltshire, after the withdrawal of funds by the MoD Education Support Fund has put the school in danger of closure.

The school provides specialist support for military families previously posted overseas, but through relationship breakdown or bereavement, are repatriated by the armed forces to the UK.

Lypiatt Primary School is the only school in the UK providing education for repatriated service children. Due to the nature of its pupils, and the short time their families stay at the tri-service Cotswold Family Centre, the school has widely fluctuating enrolment numbers, with as many as 30 or as few as 3 pupils during the same academic year.

The MOD Education Support Fund funding, which has underwritten the school in recent years, has now been discontinued, and Wiltshire Council are consulting on the closure of the school. The amount being withdrawn by the Ministry of Defence in the current academic year is £59,392, which will impact on the educational provisions needed for children from service families, who have particular and specialist needs.

GMB Southern has written to the Children’s Commissioner for England, asking that she should investigate the impact of this withdrawal of funds.

Andy Newman, GMB Branch Secretary for Wiltshire said: "There is a social contract with the women and men in our armed forces, that they and their families will be supported, in exchange for the sacrifices they make. GMB is calling for the MoD to honour that obligation towards the children of service families.

"Closure of the school will result in these vulnerable children, often dealing with complex and difficult emotional challenges, being dissipated into mainstream schools who are not equipped to support them. In many cases the children have been exposed to parents themselves suffering from PTSD, related to military deployment.

"The placement of these particular children to Wiltshire is decided by the MoD, but responsibility for their education then rests with Wiltshire Council. The fluctuating admissions numbers are dictated by the MoD and the armed services, but the funding formula for local authority schools makes no allowance for such fluctuations, and therefore the school funding has been underwritten in recent years by the MoD Education Support Fund and the Armed Forces Education Trust.

"The Children’s Commissioner’s recent report ‘Kin and Country: Growing Up as an Armed Forces Child’ has brought to public attention the particular difficulties faced by children from forces’ families. Before the ink on that report is even dry, the penny pinching of the MoD in withdrawing funds from Lypiatt School is a further damning failure of the government’s responsibility towards service families. It is hard to believe that the MoD would jeopardize the future of this brilliant school to save a measly £60000 per year.

"GMB is the union for school support staff, and we are greatly concerned that the interests of service families and these vulnerable children are not being adequately protected. The fluctuating numbers of children attending the Cotswold Family Centre means that if the children are placed in other local schools, the council will still struggle to provide the appropriate level of funding for staff to support them. And this will be detrimental not only to the children housed in the Cotswold Centre, but also disruptive of other local schools."

Contact: Andy Newman 0754 0859 227 or GMB Southern Press Office 07970 114 762

Notes to Editors:

1] The Cotswold Centre is managed by the Headquarters Army Welfare Service and funded by the Headquarters Support Command, primary aged children at the Cotswold Centre are educated at Lyppiatt School, which is situated on the MOD base.

2] Wiltshire Council is conducting a consultation on the future of the school, which concludes on 25th July 2018, with closure being the most likely option.

3] The Children’s Commission for England recently published a report on service families:

4] Kin and Country: Growing Up as an Armed Forces Child: