AFF’S Education Specialist Jilly Carrell visited Mount Street Infant School in Brecon, close to the Infantry Battle School of Wales, to see first-hand how it supports the large number of Service children within its community.
Out of 134 pupils and 48 pre-schoolers, a third are from Forces families, with a high percentage being Nepalese.
Head teacher Shan Kenchington explained: “Many pupils will have attended at least two schools before arriving with us, but because Mount Street Infants is a caring, inclusive and stimulating learning community where all our children feel safe and secure, our Service children make good progress quickly.”
The school has successfully bid for the MOD’s Education Support Fund (ESF) for the past seven years to support Service pupils on entry and ensure that their academic, emotional and social needs are met. This targeted funding has allowed the school to employ teaching assistants, one of whom is Nepalese, to help children and parents as they arrive and as they transition to other schools.
It was particularly good news for schools such as Mount Street Infants when the Secretary of State for Defence announced the extension of the ESF, on a limited basis, for two further years. The fund will consist of £3 million in 2018/19 and £2 million in 2019/20.
Jilly said: “Schools may face varied challenges with large numbers of Service children moving in and out of their classrooms, in-year admissions, arrival before year two testing, incomplete or missing records, or children who may not have English as their first language.
“It’s good to see schools such as Mount Street Infants working hard to make sure that the Armed Forces and school communities come together to ensure the best outcomes for our Service children.”
Millie Taylor, all Wales project officer from the Welsh Local Government’s Supporting Service Children in Education (SSCE) Wales, added: “SSCE Cymru has been working closely with the staff and children at Mount Street Infants. They are a fantastic example of how a school can support Service children [and] the staff are proactive in understanding the additional challenges Service children face. They have recently been successful with the Welsh Government’s Supporting Service Children in Wales Fund.”
To apply for funding from the ESF, keep an eye on the AFF website – aff.org.uk – for next year’s application dates.