Army&You highlights the excellent support that schools worldwide show our military children. This edition, we’re heading to Catterick Garrison...
How does the school help Service children settle in?
The moment a child walks through the door they will see their name on the welcome board and become part of the school community. We have a flag representing every nationality in the school – currently 21. The role of the parent support adviser is critical in supporting families during any move. We also have hands-on support from the Service pupil champion who rings every family when they arrive to ensure they have everything they require.
What practical support do you give Service pupils?
A learning mentor works alongside pupils to help them settle into their new class, allowing them to make friends quickly and get to grips with the new setting. Having a large number of Service pupils and constant movement, all pupils are very good at supporting each other. We have play buddies operating at lunch and play times and an active school council. We also run a MKC Heroes Club.
Are there any military links?
The school is closely linked with the local garrison community and wider networks. The governing body has representation from different units with four serving personnel members, while the garrison commander works with us to ensure there is support. A large number of staff are also part of the military community and understand the challenges that Service pupils face. We have close links with the garrison church and the Hindu temple, which allows us to share the religious beliefs of a number of our pupils.
Are there any special projects involving Service children?
Each year the military community in North Yorkshire gathers at Ripon Cathedral for the annual Service Pupils Remembrance Service. This takes place around Remembrance Day. We have close links with The Royal British Legion and have been involved in planting Remembrance crosses around the garrison. We also attend the annual Armed Forces Day.
What do the kids say?
Pupil Syke told us: “When I first arrived I was really worried that I wouldn’t fit in. But after a few weeks I had made loads of friends and I’m so glad I moved to this school. The teachers make all of our lessons fun.” Adam added: “I think this is the best school ever, it’s epic. It’s the little things that just make this school great.”
And the parents?
Mum Annie Wilson said: “I cannot thank the staff enough. Both my daughters have been welcomed with open arms and when my daughter, who suffers with anxiety, came home and said ‘I feel like I have been here forever’ I knew I had made the right choice. The school is so open and friendly. The staff are kind and always smiling. It feels like we have always been here!