Scottish Armed Forces Education Support Group minutes: December 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the Scottish Armed Forces Education Support Group held on 2 December 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Scottish Government (SG) Learning Directorate (Chair)
  • SG Armed Forces & Veterans Group (AFVG)
  • Education Scotland (ES)
  • MOD Directorate Children and Young People (DCYP)
  • ADES Adviser
  • ADES National Transitions Officer (NTO)
  • Royal Navy (RN)
  • RAF
  • Army
  • Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET)

Items and actions

1.  In attendance and apologies

2. Agreement of last Notes

The Chair thanked everyone for attending. The notes from the last dial-in were agreed.

3. Main agenda items

Terms of Reference (ToRs)

Revised ToRs based on comments received at the discussion on 13 November had been circulated. Following a discussion is was agreed that:

  • Any further suggested amendments should be e-mailed to the Chair through tracked changes. - All
  • The ADES NTO will extend an invitation for a Head Teacher to join the Group on a rotational basis, and will produce a list of attendees - ADES NTO
  • RCET will rotate attendance from within the organisation.  - RCET
  • RCET will lead on engagement with Children and Young People in order seek their views and input to the work of this Group - RCET

Additional Support for Learning Action Plan

There was not very much to update at this time. Internal SG work is progressing to flesh out the actions in the Plan and next steps. A holistic approach will be taken to include the voices of CYP. The Group would be updated as this progresses. The link to the ASL Action Plan is available. It was noted that including the involvement of parents is important, and that it can sometimes be difficult to engage with AF parents.

Collection and use of data

A pilot exercise to collect data on AF children had taken place through ADES in 2019 and there is a desire to build on this to collect more accurate data on numbers of AF children in Local Authorities in Scotland. The data collected included children of Regular and Reserve personnel and Veterans, and all 32 Local Authorities responded. There are some gaps and different responses were received. A further collection of data was planned for 2020 however this has not gone ahead due to COVID. Following a discussion is was agreed that:

  • The data package will be circulated separately to the Group members with guidance on how this can be used. - Secretary
  • All Group members to feedback thoughts to the ADES NTO so that an agreed approach can be developed for 2021. - All

Protocols for published documents and web page

The Group agreed that names of Group members will not be published on the new Scottish Government web page, ToRs, agenda or notes from meetings. Instead the organisations represented by Group members will be used on all published information. The Chair will retain full details of Group members.

SG Annual Report on Support to Veterans and Armed Forces Community

The Report had been circulated by the Chair. This had been well through the drafting process before the Chair had joined the Group and there had been little  opportunity to bring the group in on the drafting processes. The Group will be consulted for input for the next Report.

Updates from Group members

Education Scotland – Working with RCET and the ADES NTO on professional learning resources – these will be ready soon. Working with SG on the ASL review from an ES perspective. The Head of Inclusion sits on the ASLC working group.

RCET - Laura Falconer has been appointed as new CEO of RCET. Gary Seath has been appointed as the new fundraising and comms Manager and Cara Pleym has been appointed as the Digital Participation worker for the new ‘Your Mind Matters’ initiative, working in partnership with SAMH in Argyll & Bute. Both the COVID Crisis Fund and Young Carers Fund are still open and details are on the RCET website.

DCYP – The ESF result letters have been sent out. Scotland has seen some positive outcomes as a result of the efforts of the applicants and Group member support. A total of just under £2m has been awarded across the UK (£526,970 has been received in Scotland). There were less applicants this year. Some Group members have fed into discussions regarding future rounds of ESF funding and how this might look. Comments had been raised at the NTO Armed Forces Working Group around the level of rigour for small sums of money. DCYP advised that this was being considered in the planning for the next round, along with possible regional themes. Anyone with thoughts/suggestions on how this could change is to contact DCYP.  - All

The Early Years Fund is progressing. RAF Lossiemouth Nursery has received funding and DCYP is working with Scots Corner ELCC in Penicuik on a project around AF children’s voices in the early years in the cycle of deployment. RCET will share the Teeny Talks leaflet which may be a useful resource. - RCET

Royal Navy – Royal Navy – There are currently added pressures for families as personnel deploying are having to isolate behind the wire meaning that routine deployments are effectively being extended by around another 6 weeks if pre deployment training is included. This will impact on Christmas and other issues may arise. The RN is engaged with the Pupil Support Officer in Argyll & Bute. DCYP are happy to help where they can. The RN representative will seek some further feedback and update DCYP. Group members welcomed the situational awareness which will be fed in to the Inclusion Officers. - RN

Army – Currently 6 Regular Battalions are in the deployment cycle (including to support COVID tasks including Advisers to Scottish Government and NHS, and the vaccine roll out), some Battalions are either deployed or on short notice to move timelines. A countrywide upgrade programme to improve Service Families Accommodation is underway and due to start in Edinburgh. There is also investment in play parks around Service Families Accommodation.

RAF – The RAF has received £1m from the DCYP Early Years Fund to create additional floorspace within the RAF Lossiemouth Childcare Centre to sustain capacity during COVID restrictions. This will create a future potential for an additional 64 places for out of school/breakfast club support.   

ADES Adviser – Most activity is in direct support of the ADES NTO. ADES has an MOU and regular meetings with RCET. Together with the ADES NTO working to raise the profile of AF children. There is much goodwill towards the AF community and how it might be supported within ADES.

ADES NTO – A number of meetings have been organised in the last couple of months, enabling collaboration in Scotland and across boundaries. Meeting are timed so that information can be shared with the SSCSG in a timely fashion.  Focussing on the ‘In Our Shoes’, Armed Forces Covenant and ASN reports to identify themes and respond to points raised.

4. Actions from last  meeting

2019 Event evaluation

Draft document circulated to the Chair, Secretary and ES. Main focus is on communication structures in Scotland and sustainability. Plan now is to identify pointers then discuss further. - Chair

Future Event planning – A digital event is planned for Apr/May 2021 for around 300 attendees, with input from CYP. Suggested topics for inclusion are:

  • Transfer of school records
  • Focus on health and wellbeing – strengths as well as benefits
  • Educational Psychology – support to AF families

It was agreed that the Chair, ES and DCYP will discuss further. - Chair, ES and DCYP

Raising awareness of ASL legislation to Armed Forces families and transfer of schools records –Review against the ASL review recommendations

ES are looking at this and identifying areas to take forward. A meeting with Parentzone is also planned as well as seeking input from the NTO AF and Headteachers Working Groups. It was suggested a flyer about ongoing communication for families might be a way ahead. The Chair will look to see how to link in to the ASL/ASN network. - Chair, ES, NTO

Dispersed families – sharing good practice

Additional information is being gathered around dispersed families with a view to developing some case studies and identifying examples of good practice. A further update will be given at the next meeting by the NTO. - NTO 

Research opportunities – Working Group to look at gaps and identify research opportunities 

Some progress has been made. It was suggested and agreed that information from the MOD and RCET literary reviews and the SCiP review be looked at together to identify common themes. DCYP is keen to include themes around Early Years. The Chair, DCYP, RCET and NTO will take this forward. - Chair, DCYP, RCET and NTO

Twinning between Scotland and England Schools

The Professional Leadership Network (UK) is considering the development of a glossary to share knowledge and increase understanding across jurisdictions. This will include lessons learned during the impact of COVID, ASN and SEND, and sharing good practice. It will complement the guidance on Transitions in Scotland that will also be developed. The NTO will keep the Group updated. - NTO

The NTO is also working with Skills Development Scotland (SDS) on a pilot project in the Northern Improvement Collaborative (Moray, Highland and Argyll & Bute) to identify children within the schools so they can be supported in a more meaningful way with career guidance and support. SDS has also done some work with RCET by raising staff awareness. The NTO will keep the Group updated. - NTO 

The Chair of ASLC will be asked to synchronise information from this Group with the Scottish Education Council. -  Chair 

5. Any other business

The Family Federation Representatives will be invited to meet with this Group on 3 March 2021, prior to the full meeting. The Secretary will make the arrangements. Secretary

In response to an enquiry regarding the drafting of the Armed Forces Covenant Legislation the Chair advised that SG is working productively with the Armed Forces Covenant Team, taking into account SG policy and practice. A further meeting would take place the following week to finalise the input, responses to the survey were due by 21 December and this would all feed in to the final consultation in January 2021. The Chair will keep the Group updated. - Chair

6. Arrangements for next meeting

The dates of future meetings are detailed below. Timing and format will be confirmed by the Secretary.

  • Wednesday 3 March 2021
  • Wednesday 9 June 2021
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