Records of the British Families Education Service/Service Children's Education Association

Scope and Content

Records mainly collected by teachers who worked for the BFES/SCE.

The collection comprises:

Administrative papers of the BFES/SCE Association including minutes of meetings, papers regarding events and publications;

Recollections, diaries, photographs and school publications of former BFES/SCE teachers working in Belgium, Cyprus, Germany (West Berlin and West Germany), Egypt, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Yemen;

Records of the BFES/SCE itself including teaching resources, information for staff and families living abroad, and publications. Most of these papers have been donated by members of the BFES/SCE Association but relate more generally to the work of the BFES/SCE rather than the work of individual schools.

Small number of publications issued by the British Forces and community

Administrative / Biographical History

On 9 February 1946 a meeting was called at the War Office at which a working party was established to investigate the setting up of a Central Education Authority to work under the Control Commission for Germany and Austria. At this point, the question of whether the families of British Service personnel serving in Germany should join them had been discussed but not decided upon. A survey was undertaken by the Chairman of the Working Party, Lieutenant Colonel F J Downs and Mr W A B Hamilton, Assistant Secretary at the Ministry of Education. The survey found that the total number of children aged between 0 and 15 would be about 6000. The greatest requirement would be for primary education. In June 1946 the Cabinet agreed that families should join serving personnel as long as the education the children received was 'at least equal to' that they would have received in the UK. At this point the British Families Education Service was established by the Foreign Office.

Local Education Authorities were asked to co-operate to help recruit teachers to work in the schools in the British Zone of Germany. It was estimated that the number needed would be 200. Two thousand applied and the first teachers arrived in Germany in November 1946. British families started arriving from August 1946 onwards and small informal schools were set up in some areas before official BFES schools opened.The first official BFES schools opened in early 1947, mostly in requisitioned buildings including private houses. Although the BFES originally provided education for the children of British Forces families in Germany in the following years BFES/SCE schools were opened in countries across the world including Hong Kong, Cyprus, Malaysia and Mauritius. In the winter of 1951-1952 the Service was taken over by the Army and became Service Childrens' Education Authority (SCEA). In c1989 a new administration was introduced and in the short-term the organisation was remained Service Children's Schools (SCS) before adopting its current name Service Children Education (SCE).

The BFES Association was founded in 1967 to enable BFES teachers to keep in touch. In the 1980s it merged with the Service Childrens' Education Association (SCEA), which had changed its name to SCE, to become the BFES/SCE Association. It arranges annual reunions and publishes an annual magazine.


The collection was originally organised by the Archivist of the BFES/SCE Association in series labelled A-Z with a further general series. Further series of AA and AB were added at the end. The original titles of these files have been retained and the series noted in the AltRefNo.

During cataloguing the collection was reorganised into four sub-collections (sub-fonds) as follows:

BFE/A - Records of the BFES/SCE Association comprising: administrative papers, records regarding events and publications;

BFE/B - Memoirs and papers collected by staff working for the BFES/SCE. This section has been sub-divided by the country to which the papers relate:

BFE/B/1 - Belgium

BFE/B/2 - Cyprus

BFE/B/3 - Germany

BFE/B/4 - Egypt

BFE/B/5 - Hong Kong

BFE/B/6 - Malaysia

BFE/B/7 - Mauritius

BFE/B/8 - Sri Lanka

BFE/B/9 - Yemen

BFE/B/10 - Belize

Some papers in this sub-collection relate to more than one country. Full information is available at the file level description

BFE/C - Records of the BFES/SCE comprising: administrative papers, teaching resources, and publications. Most of these papers have been donated by members of the BFES/SCE Association but relate more generally to the work of the BFES/SCE rather than the work of individual schools.

BFE/D - Records of the British Forces

Material held on digital storage media have been removed from the body of the collection and placed in the Digital Physical Media Storage Area (Jessica Womack, March 2014)

Access Information


Open, subject to signature of Reader Application Form.

Acquisition Information

Sent to the Institute of Education in February 2001. Various accessions between 2001 and 2010.

Other Finding Aids

Available on the online catalogue.

Conditions Governing Use

A reader wishing to publish any quotation of information, including pictorial, derived from any archive material must apply in writing for prior permission from the Archivist or other appropriate person(s) as indicated by the Archivist. A limited number of photocopies may be supplied at the discretion of the Archivist.

Appraisal Information

Duplicates were removed during cataloguing. A small number of publications that did not relate to the work of the BFES or British Forces more generally were also removed.

Custodial History

The first Archivist of the BFES/SCE was appointed in [1996-97] to oversee the collection of memorabilia given by the members and maintain the records of the Association itself. Materials were donated following appeals at annual reunions and other events. Some donations have been kept as discrete entities - others have been amalgamated into general subject-based series. Further deposits are made on a regular basis.


Expected. Further papers are received on a regular basis and will be added to the catalogue.

Related Material

Further material relating to the BFES may be found in the papers of Arabella Kurdi (AK) and Mimi Hatton (MH). - Website of Service Children's Education - Website of the BFES-SCE Association - Website of St George's School, Hong Kong

The National Army Museum hold the following school log books:

Munster Lager School: January 1947-December 1977

Hildesheim School: March 1947-October 1977; January 1978-July 1993 (school closed at this point)

Lippstadt School: January 1948-October 1966; October 1966-August 1977; September 1977-April 1993 (school closed at this point)

Soltau School (renamed Jerboa School in 1974) - February 1952-February 1975; February 1975-December 1983; January 1984-March 1993 (school closed at this point)

Trenchard School Gutersloh (opened 1947 and possibly renamed Haig in 1971) - January 1966-August 1968; September 1971-August 1987; September 1987-July 1993 (school closed at this point)

Fleming School Herford - September 1969-December 1984

Dannenberg School January 1979-December 1984

St Peter's School Lubbecke: April 1988-July 1992 (school closed at this point)

Official records of the BFES are held at The National Archives (refs ED121; ED193; FO944/944; FO1013/1464; FO1014/877; WO163/580; WO32/20796)