There are thousands of children in UK schools who have a parent serving in the British Armed Forces and face unique pressures as they grow up, such as having a parent deployed overseas or having to move home or school multiple times.
In fact, just over half of state schools in England have service children on roll and most military children attend a school with fewer than ten others from a service background.
Yet whilst schools in England receive Service Pupil Premium, a payment of £335 per service child to provide pastoral support, there are no national guidelines in place as to how schools should best support service children in education.
That’s why Kernow Learning Trust in Cornwall has partnered with the military children’s charity, Little Troopers, to ensure that all 150 service children across its 21 schools receive a consistent level of support no matter which school they go to and how many service children are on roll.
The idea started when one of the schools in the trust, King Charles CE Primary School, near HMS Culdrose, signed up to the charity’s Little Troopers at School programme and set-up a weekly Little Troopers lunchtime club.
They school only had 13 military children at the time, all from different year groups and the weekly club brought them together to chat about military life, make crafts to give to their serving parents and take part in activities from the Little Troopers at School programme, as well as simply spending time having fun together.
The children also created a Little Troopers display board in the main corridor to show their civilian peers what life is like in the Armed Forces, including a map to show where their Mums and Dads are in the world.
The school found the club helped foster sense of community by offering military children a space to talk about their connection to the forces and make new friendships based on their shared experiences.
Headteacher, Lee Moscato, was keen to replicate the idea across all 21 schools in the Trust and so worked with Little Troopers to create a pack of resources that could be sent to each school.
The toolbox of resources included information for teachers, storybooks for the library, early years outfits, lesson plans, activity ideas, digital workshops and a military child wellbeing course to help teachers delve deeper into some of the unique challenges that military children face growing up in the Armed Forces community.
Lee Moscato, Headteacher of King Charles C of E School, said: “This has enabled a really powerful joined up approach which ensures an equity of provision which is really important to us here in Kernow Learning.
“By training, learning and collaborating across all our schools we have secured a strong offer for our services families within our Trust.
“For those schools without any pupils with serving parents currently on roll, it means that they are ready to welcome them should they join and for those with service family pupils, we have been able to share best practice and further strengthen our provision in all our schools. We’re really thankful to the support that Little Troopers has given us.”
Louise Fetigan, founder of Little Troopers, added: “Parents often tell us that one of their biggest frustrations is that support for military children is not consistent between schools, so it is brilliant to see Kernow Learning Trust recognising the importance of providing consistent support for service children across the board.
“By having these resources in place, schools are sending a messaging to military families that we recognise your children, we understand that they might be facing unique challenges, and we have things in place to support you and your children whenever you need it. “