Children and Education


Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) Transferable Officer’s children’s education is linked to the MFA Officer’s obligation of mobility. Access to good quality schooling is a crucial issue facing globally mobile families and this applies to schooling on postings and in the home country. Quality education is usually provided by the French lycées, international schools and American and British schools. Living abroad, with frequent changes of cultural environment, often causes problems for MFA Officers’ children in their school careers. These problems are even greater for children with disabilities or SEN.


EUFASA has produced a number of reports and recommendations about these concerns and has ensured that they are kept high on the agenda of all members states’ Ministries of Foreign Affairs. Details of these are provided as follows:

  1. Education Report: Education and Mobility, EUFASA Conference, Berlin 2007 This report is a survey of 22 EUFASA members regarding the educational situation of MFA Officers’ children regarding continuity of education and entry to university.MFA Officers’ children have to continuously change countries during their formative years. Therefore, continuity of education within the same language/school system is indispensable to provide stability. For children completing a major part of their secondary education abroad, there is the subsequent difficulty of qualifying for university entry in the home country.Letter sent to MFAs: by the German Chair of the EUFASA Conference, Berlin 2007
    This letter contains a list of recommendations for problems encountered during MFA Officers’ children’s schooling.
  2. Schooling for Children with SEN
  • Report: European Children with Special needs, EUFASA Conference, Stockholm 2001
  • Report: Children with special needs, EUFASA Conference, Madrid 2002
  • Report: Education and Mobility, EUFASA Conference, Berlin 2007
  • List on EUFASA intranet: Schools, in the EU, with provision for SEN children
  • Letter to MFAs following the EUFASA Conference, Stockholm 2001 (recommendations concerning children with SEN)


  1. Education
    The MFAs of Netherlands, Portugal, and Greece facilitate continuity of education by paying for French lycées and international schools on home postings, even though the schooling is in a foreign language.Four countries (Finland, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland) subsidize the university studies of all students who have the nationality or, as in the case of Finland, students who have permanent residency in the country.Twenty-one countries allow MFA Officers’ children to study at university in another E.U. country but only seven MFAs (Belgium, Cyprus, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Switzerland) and the E.U. Commission agree to pay a further education allowance.
  2. SEN
    Five EU countries (Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.K) have a special officer at the MFA providing assistance to families with SEN children.


  1. Education
    Supporting continuity of education in the same school system (abroad and in the home country).
    Payment of international schools in the home country to ensure continuity of education.
    Payment for boarding schools, if continuity of education in the same school system is not possible at post.
    Payment for language proficiency courses in order to follow the curriculum at a new school on post and when returning to the home country.
    Recognition of foreign school systems and school-leaving diplomas.
    Agreements with the Ministry of Education which would allow MFA Officers’ children to qualify for entry to university in the home country with foreign school-leaving diplomas.
    Negotiations for European regulations for mutual recognition of foreign school-leaving diplomas.
    Facilitating MFA Officers’ applications for posts offering the chosen school system for their children.
  2. SEN
    MFAs should have a co-ordinator who represents the interests of children with SEN and their families.
    MFAs should pay for appropriate provisions for children with SEN at post and at home.
    Schools used by MFA families should be contacted to ensure that they understand the requirements of children with SEN and provide adequate SEN facilities.
    The EU Commission should be made aware of the problems of children with SEN.


Foreign service families have a lot to consider when it comes to international transfers if they have a child with disabilities or different needs (learning differences, medical needs, behavioural or mental health issues). There may be questions about where to apply, what to say about their child in the transfer application, what to do when a post doesn’t have all the required support, or even whether to stay at headquarters for a while. In some posting locations, it may be difficult to find a school. This practical guide shares tips and experience from foreign service families who have been there.