Moving to a new school can be a daunting prospect for any child and especially so for those from military families. With the new academic year underway, we asked educational establishments for their advice on how teachers, parents and pupils can make the transition easy for everyone involved. Here we feature the answers from Salisbury’s Chafyn Grove…
How many Service children do you have at your school?
16/27 of the full boarders and of the 60 casual boarders are Service children; 41/290 total boarder and day.
What are the main concerns you find that Service pupils have when they arrive?
Most children are most anxious that they should be able to make friends. Once they’ve established some friendships, everything else seems quite easy.
What help does your school offer to new pupils from a military background? Do you have any strategies in place to provide assistance when a child’s soldier parent deploys?
All our pupils have a tutor, who will have contact each day with the pupil and any changes to the pupil’s family circumstances will be reported to the staff meetings so that all staff are aware if a parent is about to deploy. We have a Head of Pastoral Care who keeps close links with any pupils who need extra support, a school counsellor and a “listening ear” who comes in weekly with her dog to spend time with any boarders who might need someone else to talk to. Most of all, the family nature of the boarding house offers support.
What can Army families do to prepare their children for starting a new school? Equally, what can the children themselves do?
In addition to information sent out before joining, giving details of the daily routines, children are invited to a taster day and a taste of boarding night where they have the opportunity to meet the other boarders and experience a night in the boarding house. The first week of term is a staying in weekend and all the boarders will have a fantastic Saturday night and a trip out on Sunday.
What challenges are faced by boarders and how do you help the pupils to overcome them?
All new boarders have some nerves about the change to their circumstances. They have to get used to being part of a larger family and some need to learn how to cooperate within this larger family group. While they have help from the house staff and their friends and are never left to fend for themselves, life away from home does help them to be more organised
Why should military parents pick your school for their child?
We are very experienced in dealing with service families and treat each family as an individual case. Our communication with parents is excellent and received considerable praise during our recent boarding inspection. Salisbury is in an area of the country near many military units and, as such, is a great base for many Service families. Our ethos of sport and hard work in a relaxed and supportive environment with a strong leaning towards outdoor pursuit, leadership and teamwork, suits many children from military families.