Not everyone understands army family life and it’s not easy to explain to your civilian friends what it’s really like. In school, you might be feeling a bit low because one of your parents is away on exercise, or perhaps you’re finding it difficult to make friends in a new location. So what can schools do to help?
We spoke to The Wellington Academy in Wiltshire, where 65 per cent of pupils come from forces families. It’s used money from the MOD’s Education Support Fund to appoint a dedicated Military Service Pupil Premium Co-ordinator, Andrea Bailey, to help look after the academic transition and pastoral needs of the school’s service children. As a former science teacher and part of a military family herself, Andrea is well placed to understand the nuances and demands of forces life. Her role is to look after the emotional wellbeing of children during their school life.
Work has already begun on a communications hub so pupils can stay in touch with family members who are posted abroad and may only be able to speak to each other during the school day.
Best of both
Andrea says: “For many pupils of secondary school age, this could be the fifth or sixth school that they’ve attended in their lifetime. My role is to ease their transition and help to make sure that they are not at an academic disadvantage as a result of their family situation.
“We will be putting support in place to enhance their progress in their learning, as well as to support their emotional wellbeing and development as young people. For me, this is the best of both worlds – I can focus on doing the fun things with the pupils and know that I’m making a positive impact on their lives.
“Service families live such a unique life and it’s a challenge to understand exactly what the children are going through without first-hand experience. Being a child in a service family can be tough and the resilience of these children never fails to astound me.”
Wellington service pupil Margaret says she’s looking forward to the impact that Andrea will make: “I feel the service pupil co-ordinator will be very good at helping people understand problems with military life.”
Is your child’s school going that extra mile to support its service children? Tell us about it, email firstname.lastname@example.org