Hampshire has a large forces population, with more than 6,000 military pupils on roll in its schools – comfortably the highest number of school-aged children from a service family background in the country. As a result, Hampshire County Council takes its responsibility to ensure their needs are met extremely seriously. We caught up with its lead officer for service pupils, Andy Heyes, to find out more…

What’s your role?
Over the past four years, I’ve developed strong links with external agencies including the University of Winchester, the MOD and Directorate of Children & Young People, AFF and the other families federations, key organisations and charities. We all work collaboratively to improve the provision in schools for service children and ensure they achieve as well as they can.

How do you do this?
I chair the education sub-group of the civilian military partnership, which meets termly. This group is at the forefront of driving improvements and we now have district network groups across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight that bring school practitioners together on a termly basis. These groups are an important means of disseminating information, sharing good practice and working together.

What do you think is important for service children in school?
We know from research that service children don’t want to be treated any differently from their non-service peers. However, they want someone they trust in school who understands their unique context, the challenges they face and who will be there for them at key times. They may need support during transition, when one or more parents are deployed, in times of bereavement or if they are a young carer. We work closely with schools to ensure they use the service pupil premium effectively to support children pastorally in times of need.

How do you monitor their progress?
We track the progress and attainment of service children very carefully and there’s still more that we can do. Our recent report showed that as service pupils grow up, their relative attainment in comparison to non-service, non-disadvantaged pupils weakens, and the gap grows negatively. We know that mobility and deployment impact on the achievement of service children and, as a local authority, we must find even more ways of supporting schools to get better results. Your children deserve it!

Want to know more? Contact AFF’s education specialist Jilly Carrell at ec@aff.org.uk

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