Army&You highlights the excellent support that schools worldwide show our military children. This edition, we’re heading to Alverstoke Church of England Junior School in Gosport, Hampshire, which has 45 Service youngsters among its 308 pupils...
How does the school help Service children settle in?
We are very aware of the needs and the support required for Service children. In addition to an excellent emotional literacy support assistant, we have a family link worker who co-ordinates our ‘new arrival ambassador scheme’. We nominate a class ambassador to show the new child around school, encourage them to interact at playtime and lunchtime and help them settle. The family link worker introduces themselves to the new family and explains their role, so that should there be any problems, or the serving parent is deployed, they have a point of contact. They also speak to the class teacher on a daily basis to ensure the child is settling in and organise small groups, which includes the new child, to play and chat together.
What practical support do you give Service pupils?
All Service children have a weekly heroes club to attend if they would like. Children are also given the opportunity to share work and photographs with their deployed parent, even if the parent is just away during the week. There’s always the opportunity to chat with an adult or peers and a family can also be put in touch with other organisations who can help if Service life becomes tough. We regularly provide families with information on what’s available in the local area too.
Are there any special projects involving Service children?
We are part of a community ‘plant a poppy for Remembrance’ event and last year two children laid a wreath on behalf of all Service families. We host events throughout the year, but our most successful was our Service families’ summer picnic. We received funding from Forces Live Events CSE and invited 12 local schools, all who have large numbers of Service children, to attend. CSE provided entertainment and HMS Collingwood Field Gun, the local police, fire brigade and ambulance service all attended along with Armed Forces charities to offer support and answer any questions. The families had a great time and the feedback was so positive we are holding a similar event this year.
What do the kids think?
One Service child said the support available “makes a sad time a lot happier”.
And the parents?
A parent told us: “We had moved from a school where there were only one or two Service families, so I felt very isolated. The fact that there’s support at Alverstoke and the knowledge that there are other children experiencing the same emotions, has made a recent deployment a lot easier.”