Steph Fawdry loves being a teacher, and ten years ago, she became head at RAF Benson Community Primary School which has almost 100 per cent service children. From the moment she got the role, she’s been determined to ensure the children have the best experiences they can…
“I just adored the school, the changing nature of its population and especially how spirited and resilient the children were,” says Steph.
“Not having a military background, I had to quickly come to terms with the acronyms and military way of life.”
The school has around 200 pupils with an average mobility rate each year of 54 per cent. It presents Steph with challenges for the budget, staffing and resources.
“It also has an impact on planning as we don’t actually know how many children we’ll have in school until they turn up in September!”
It’s clear from parent feedback that the school is well drilled when it comes to supporting service youngsters. “This school provides unique opportunities for the children of service families and we feel privileged our child attends here,” says one parent.
Another adds: “My child has settled in well after moving schools three times in four months. The care given to military families is of great benefit.”
The effects of deployment are very much taken into consideration.
Steph adds: “It can often be a barrier to learning and to help ease this we have a pastoral support officer who runs our ‘social circle’ group specifically for children who have a parent away.
“She’s also on hand to speak to children and parents regarding emotional issues.”
Steph’s time at the school also led her to begin working for SCISS (Service Children in State Schools), where she is now chair.
“The organisation provides a strong voice in supporting schools with service children and offers advice and support in various ways,” she concludes.
For lots more examples of best practice in schools with service children and news on SCISS’s work, go to sciss.org.uk