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 Haberdashers Monmouth Schools in Wales…
How many Service children do you have at your school?
What are the main concerns you find that Service pupils have when they arrive?
Service pupils like to feel that there is a support network in place to ensure they settle quickly and comfortably into life at the Schools. Many forces children have moved and changed schools several times. We would like them to feel a sense of permanence and stability with us, knowing they will have the chance to make friends for life and build up a rapport with teaching staff.
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?
Our house parents have cared for generations of forces boarders and have years of experience dealing with the particular worries of service families, especially when parents are deployed on missions overseas. One house master has also served 10 years in the RAF, and so understands the pressures of life in the military. We keep a gentle eye on pupils during stressful times and encourage them to be open and talk through any anxieties with their boarding house parents. We use all the latest technology to make communication between forces pupils and their parents as easy as possible.
What can Army families do to prepare their children for starting a new school? Equally, what can the children themselves do?
Parents can discuss their plans as a family, including the children in any decisions. It is vitally important for children to understand the benefits of boarding and to feel that it is a positive opportunity for them. They will grow in confidence and have a stable environment in which to develop academic, sporting, musical skills and to feel part of a community.
Families can visit the Schools if possible and take up taster days to experience what we have to offer first hand.
What challenges are faced by boarders and how do you help the pupils to overcome them?
One of the challenges faced by boarders is that they have to be more independent and self-reliant, all useful skills for adult life. We have different levels of help and support depending on age groups. For the younger pupils this will include bedtime stories, one-on-one help with prep, ensuring they have the right kit for various activities and help to manage their timetables. For older boarders, help and advice is on offer as they face public exams and university applications. In the Sixth Form, they are given guidance with managing their own finances, healthy cooking and independent learning as preparation for life beyond school.
Why should military parents pick your school for their child?
Military parents should pick Monmouth because we have all the academic advantages of single-sex brother and sister schools and all of the social advantages of co-ed with many joint after-school and weekend activities. Excellent exam results enable 65 per cent of our pupils to go on to a Russell Group University and we make maximum use of our superb facilities and location to develop interests out of the classroom. In addition, forces families in receipt of the Continuity of Education Allowance pay only 10 per cent of the fees, approximately £900 per term.
For further information and news about Haberdashers Monmouth Schools, visit www.habs-monmouth.org