Nia Davies and husband Steve have been married 11 years and have two children, Danny (10) and Milly (8). After a nine-month tour in Afghanistan for Steve, the family were looking forward to some time together as they moved from their own home in Chester to Cardiff. However, finding school places was problematic…


THE change represented Danny’s sixth school move and Milly’s third.

“I did quite a bit of research on the schools in the area and got in touch with some military families in Cardiff,” said Nia. “I had to do ‘mid-year transfer requests’ and selected two local schools.”

A few weeks later Nia received a letter to say that neither school was available.

“This caused great stress and anxiety. I had never been in this situation before and with Steve being away I felt clueless,” she said. “I had no idea where to start so my first port of call was to AFF and I was signposted to the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS).”

Making an appeal

CEAS helped Nia through the appeals process. She told us: “They were incredible. I had regular updates with everything. The process is reasonably easy to follow but it did cause me a lot of sleepless nights. It also unsettled the children and it was difficult to start making plans.”

The reason for the family’s school choice was the wraparound care – a breakfast and after-school club until 6pm, meaning Nia would be able to transfer her career with the NHS to Cardiff.

She said: “Being a stay-at-home mum is not an option for me. I have juggled my 18-year career in the breast screening service around our military life.”

Nia didn’t find the school very understanding and was told that ‘just because you are military, you are no different to anyone else’. She explained: “I found it very hard as we were moving to be a family and to support my husband.

“The children have to make new friends through no choice of their own – it’s a huge part of military life that some people don’t understand.

“I never thought that we would get a positive outcome – out of 500 appeals in Cardiff in 2017 only 24 were successful. I am confident they will settle in well with some support and will not be at any disadvantage.”

Nia advised anyone facing a similar situation not to be frightened to ask for help and to contact CEAS and AFF for advice and support.

“It means the world to us as we will be a family again. We are looking forward to the next two years,” she added. “We have been able to make lots of plans. This has given the children a boost, which is a relief for us as parents.”

Useful contacts

AFF Education Specialist: email ec@aff.org.uk or visit aff.org.uk

CEAS: email dcyp-ceas-enquiries@mod.gov.uk or call 01980 618244

School support in Wales: sscecymru.co.uk

Ofsted: gov.uk/government/organisations/ofsted

School support in Scotland: rcet.org.uk

Education in Northern Ireland: education-ni.gov.uk

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