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 Dunblane’s Queen Victoria School…
How many Service children do you have at your school?
We have approximately 270 service children here at QVS.
What are the main concerns you find that Service pupils have when they arrive?
QVS is a boarding school for the children of military personnel with a connection to Scotland. Our students tend to be concerned with homesickness and how they will find new friends when they arrive. They have no concerns about being a military child as everyone is in exactly the same boat here and they soon learn that they can rely heavily on each other in times of need.
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?
Again, the fact that we deal exclusively with military children means that the support network here is far greater than anywhere else. Every member of staff, both teaching and business support, are here to help support the children settle into a boarding environment. The school provides the stability that many of the families crave for their children so that, when a deployment occurs, the child can just carry on as normal with as much as support as is required. We have a “Parents on Deployment” support group which adds an extra layer of support and a “Seasons for Growth” scheme which allows students the chance to talk about and confront loss.
What can Army families do to prepare their children for starting a new school? Equally, what can the children themselves do?
Army families must show complete trust and belief in the school they are sending their children too. If they are 100 per cent convinced that the decision is right for the child, the child will surely agree.
What challenges are faced by boarders and how do you help the pupils to overcome them?
Boarders have constant challenges; homesickness, sharing a room with several other children, making friends, getting into new routines, following the rules, not being in constant contact with mum and dad etc. We encourage our students to remain as busy as possible. We structure their day so that from 7am until bedtime at 9pm (for our younger students) there are activities to do and procedures to follow – all of which means that when it is time for lights out, the children can sleep easier, satisfied that they have had a full and rewarding day.
Why should military parents pick your school for their child?
If they have a connection with Scotland or have served in a Scottish regiment, then QVS is the right place to ensure stability of education, excellent pastoral care and individualised support of the highest quality.