Children and young people from Service families may, at times, face challenges and need extra support to make the most of their learning and to overcome obstacles in accessing the curriculum.
The Scottish Government, local authorities, schools and the Armed Forces in Scotland work closely to make sure that children and young people in Service families benefit from the same standard of, and access to, education as any other child or young person in their area.
Scotland’s schools aim to provide a comprehensive package of personalised support and guidance for these children and young people. Scotland’s policy framework includes a statutory requirement to identify, provide for and review additional support for learning for a range of issues, including those which impact on children from Service families, such as interrupted learning, coping with transitions and dealing with bereavement.
Changes made by the UK Ministry of Defence on basing had an impact on Service families and Scottish schools, due to movement of personnel and families. The Scottish Government set up the Scottish Service Children’s Strategic Working Group (SSCSWG) to focus on the challenges faced by children and young people of Service families, to share best practice and to make support available.
The Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) has created a dedicated National Transitions Officer (NTO) to work with Scottish local authorities, schools and Service families. This has been a very positive initiative, resulting in work with local authorities to set up systems to record numbers of Service children, piloting a pupil information profile in two local authorities, planning for a number of education forums aimed at parents, and building a support network for practitioners across all 32 local authorities.
- Funding & support: SSCSWG has encouraged applications to, and supported assessment of applications for, MoD’s Education Support Fund. Scottish applications have performed well, with some excellent work in schools and communities. The latest round saw the highest number of bids submitted in a single year in Scotland.
- Guidance: In consultation with schools, Education Scotland and the NTO published a professional learning resource to help practitioners respond to the needs of Service families and their children, revised the Parentzone website to make it relevant to Service families. SSCSWG helped develop a fact sheet covering Higher Education funding for members of the Armed Forces, published by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland.
- Transition: SSCSWG worked with the MoD to develop a universal transition document to capture and share key information at the point of transition for all Service children. The document was piloted in two Scottish local authorities and findings will inform future developments.
- Inspection: Through Education Scotland’s inspection programme, HM Inspectors evaluate quality of provision of support for all children and young people, taking into account family circumstances, within Scotland’s inclusive practices in schools. They comment in published reports on provision for Armed Forces children where appropriate. School inspection evidence shows that many schools and local authorities are working hard and effectively to support Service children and their families.
- Integration and employability: Education Scotland has linked closely with SkillForce, a charity that works in schools, drawing on the skills of ex-Forces personnel, to inspire young people to succeed. This partnership has provided valuable support to children and young people facing challenges within Scottish schools. Education Scotland also works closely with the Combined Cadet Forces in Scotland who are working with local schools to deliver parts of Curriculum for Excellence as part of the Cadet Experience Programme.
‘‘Commendably, the school provides considerable enhanced support for children from Armed Forces’ backgrounds.’’
Firrhill High School, Edinburgh, HMIE Report, June 2015
“For most Forces’ children and their families, especially those with additional support needs, transitions can be a stressful experience. Staff at this school recognise this and work very effectively with a range of partners including the National Transitions Officer for children of Armed Forces’ families in Scotland and the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) for children of Forces’ families to ensure continuity and progression.”
Leuchars Primary School, Fife, Report to Scottish Parliament, April 2014
Email: Nadine Milne