FAMILIES and schools alike often contact AFF to ask us about the Service Premium – the extra funding given to any state school in England with military children.

To raise awareness of the scheme and celebrate and share the great ways money is being spent, we recently ran our Excellence for Forces Children Award. Twenty six schools – across three categories – made our shortlist but the worthy winners were:

1-10 Service Pupils: Lee Common CE School, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire

11-20 Service Pupils: St Mary and St John Church of England Voluntary Aided (CEVA) Primary School, North Luffenham, Rutland

21+ Service Pupils: Carterton Primary School, Oxfordshire

Overall winner: St Mary and St John CEVA Primary School

PREMIUM2Each of the category winners received certificates and St Mary and St John Primary Church of England Voluntary Aided School scooped £500 from the award’s sponsors Sodexo.

The judges included the Adjutant General (AG) Lt Gen Gerry Berragan, Joy O’Neill from the Service Children’s Support Network and David Fugurally from the Department for Education.

AG said: “I was struck by the level of ingenuity and imagination applied to the use of the Service Premium, and choosing a winner from each category was difficult.”

David added: “It has given me a much deeper understanding of issues faced by Service pupils and how schools can help. We can and should use elements of this as examples of good practice.”

Some great examples of support included welcome films made by children, a Forces choir, one-to-one sessions, deployment boards, photo books, memory boxes and a combat club.

If you have questions about how your child’s school is spending its Service Premium, why not take this issue of Army&You into school to show how the money is being used in other areas.

The winners

The award-winning St Mary and St John Primary Church of England Voluntary Aided School impressed judges with what it offers Service pupils.

Children can join in the Forces Choir and have access to three bears, Cuddles, Snuggles and Medals, who are there for youngsters when their parents are away. The bears have become symbols to all children in school – both Forces and non-Forces.

Parents endorsed the school with comments such as: “My children benefitted most from the after-school clubs. As my husband has been deployed for 12 months in a two-year period, I find it very difficult to do weekend activities with three young children.”

Caring curriculum

St Mary and St John CEVA Primary School’s Service Premium was spent on a range of great initiatives including:

  • Free after school sessions each week
  • TA led support groups and one-to-one sessions
  • Forces Choir 
  • Employed a Forces Support Assistant 
  • Purchase of computer software to support the E-Blueys
  • Deployment board to help children understand where parents are working
  • Trip to celebrate the return of parents from Afghanistan
  • ‘Postcard to Afghanistan’ competition won by Forces children who were taken to the Military Tournament and enjoyed backstage passes
  • A quick guide containing information for families looking for school places.