Human Resources Directorate
Old Admiralty Building
London SW1A 2PA
Tel: 020 7008
Fax: 020 7008
By e-mail to:
10 November 2010
Dear Mr Smith, FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - REQUEST REF: 0915-10
Thank you for your email of 13 October asking for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(FCO) to release the following information:
in 2009 how much did the F&CO pay in private school fees for children of their
I am writing to confirm that we have now completed the search for the information which you
requested. I can confirm that the FCO does hold information relevant to your request.
It is a condition of their employment that members of the diplomatic service must be
prepared to serve anywhere in the world at any time during their career, sometimes at very
short notice. Those with children have a legal obligation as parents to ensure that their
children receive a full-time education from the age of five years. Most parents prefer to take
their children with them abroad, but in some countries we do not permit staff to take their
children either for health or security reasons. In others, local schools of an acceptable
standard are not available. It is longstanding practice that the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office (FCO) helps staff meet their potentially conflicting obligations by providing financial
support for their children's education in the UK where staff choose this, or are obliged to do
so given local conditions in the country to which they are posted. Continuity of education is
also an important factor, particularly at secondary level.
The FCO refunds standard term fees up to a ceiling which is reviewed annually. Staff
choosing a more expensive school must pay the difference in cost themselves. The
maximum amount the FCO will pay is determined by an independent survey conducted by
ECA International, which is used by public and private sector employers whose staff work
across the world. Various factors, including availability of places (sometimes at short notice)
and proximity of other family members, influence which schools staff choose for their
The ceiling on the amount parents can claim towards boarding schools is reviewed annually
and was reduced in September 2010. The FCO accounts for expenditure in financial years.
In the 2009-10 financial year the FCO spent £13.3 million on children educated in the UK
and £11.5 million on children at schools overseas.
In keeping with the spirit and effect of the Freedom of Information Act, all information is
assumed to be releasable to the public unless it is exempt. The information we have
supplied to you may now be published on our website together with any related information
that will provide a key to its wider context.
I hope you are satisfied with this reply. However, if you wish to make a complaint or if you
would like a review of our decision, please write to the Information Rights Team at The Old
Admiralty Building, Room SG 120, London, SW1A 2PA. E-mail: email@example.com.
You have 40 working days to do so from the date of this letter.
If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may then apply directly to the
Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the Information Commissioner cannot
make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the FCO.
The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner's Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
We continually strive to improve our service, so we would welcome your feedback and
comments. If you would like to provide feedback, please email our Information Rights Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find out more about the FCO and freedom of information issues at our Access
to Information website: http://foi.fco.gov.uk/en
Open Government Liaison Officer
Human Resources Directorate
We keep and use information in line with the Data Protection Act 1998. We may release this personal information to other UK
government departments and public authorities.