Information

Scottish Armed Forces Education Support Group minutes: December 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the Scottish Armed Forces Education Group held on 1 December 2021.


Attendees and apologies

Attendees

  • Scottish Government (SG) Learning Directorate (Chair)
  • SG Armed Forces and Veterans Group (AFVG)
  • Education Scotland (ES)
  • MOD Armed Forces Families and Safeguarding (AFFS)
  • ADES Adviser
  • ADES National Transitions Officer (NTO)
  • Army, Forces Children Scotland (FCS)

Apologies

  • RAF
  • Royal Navy (RN)
  • COSLA Representatives and Head Teacher Representative

Items and actions

Actions agreed

  • Autism Action Plan - the chair will link SAFESG stakeholders into new work around autism in the New Year - chair
  • comments on ASL in ESF bids - the chair will lead on a group discussion with AFFS, ES and the NTO - chair
  • Living in Our Shoes report recommendations - the AFVG agreed to share a copy of the recommendations - AFVG
  • collection and use of data - the chair noted the reminder to issue a statement around the value of data collection in supporting children of Armed Forces (AF) families, and links to the Covenant Legislation - chair
  • FCS whole school approach - FCS will engage with ES to discuss further - FCS
  • tracking children’s outcomes - the chair will confirm data protection requirements around this - chair
  • SG Welcome to Scotland booklet - the NTO will update Forces Children Education (FCE) website with a link to the most recent issue in the new year, link to revised Understanding the Scottish Education System booklet (FCE) will be added to the SG Welcome booklet - NTO
  • head teacher representative - the NTO will coordinate invitations - NTO secretary
  • SAFESG meeting with Families Federation representatives - the secretary will send an invitation for the June meeting - NTO secretary

Firm base engagement

Discussions have taken place between AFFS and 51st Infantry Brigade around strengthening links between SAFESG and Firm Base (FB). The intent is to bring the two groups closer together in a more streamlined way.

Standing agenda items

Additional Support for Learning (ASL) - action plan progress - chair

It had been a very busy couple of months during which a lot of progress had been made. The updated action plan was published in October, detailing that eight of the actions have been completed. The post pandemic environment has been a topic for discussion in particular where priorities may have changed, and how to re-engage with all stakeholders. A CSP review report was published 30 November. There will be a suite of resources and guidance on stage level of intervention across the whole area of Additional Support Needs (ASN), these will be available on the FCE website and the National Improvement Hub. The updated action plan and the CSP report are at Additional support for learning action plan: progress report and Short-life Working Group on Co-ordinated Support Plans (CSPs): final report

A report on the Autism Action Plan will be published and circulated soon. All actions have been completed with the focus on improving understanding of autism for teachers. Two reports have been published on a range of strategies highlighting a need for resource development and an autism toolbox within the Scottish context. Group members highlighted the importance of families being able to understand the diagnostic pathways for Autism in Scotland. It was noted that agencies in Scotland will need to recognise the differences in pathways for families with children with ASN when moving within the UK and overseas as they are often dealing with different pathways and support mechanisms.

Some of the recent Education Support Fund (ESF) bids had highlighted the need for ESF funding to support AF children and to close funding gaps. Members of SAFESG will engage with applicants that have made such statements to identify what the MOD and SAFESG can do to help. 

ES updated that work has started at the Learning Festival around the theme of language matters. Where SAFESG members identify any particular words that cause complexity or confusion, they are asked to email the ES Representative.

Safeguarding - AFFS

Connectivity between MOD medical practices and local NHS primary care providers was discussed as was Safeguarding training for MOD Medics. These points have been included in a report to the MOD national Safeguarding Board.

Living in our shoes report update - AFVG

Report recommendations were now being taken forward and it is hoped these would be published before Christmas and linked to the publication of the MOD Families Strategy. This work will trigger a number of working groups with progress being tracked through the SAFESG.

Collection and use of data - NTO

A request for the SEEMiS 2021 data as at 1st October was submitted to local authorities through ADES. All 32 local authorities have responded. The 2019 data will be used to provide a level of benchmarking. A report will be submitted to the ADES Executive early in the New Year. 

A number of meetings were arranged with some of the schools and local authorities to discuss their collection and use of data. A report will be prepared that reflects themes identified and recommendations. One action for SG to take forward is to issue a statement around the value of data collection in supporting children of AF families, and links to the Covenant Legislation.

Collaborative work with Skills Development Scotland (SDS) continues along with an on-going pilot project to enhance identification flags for AF children, ensuring provision of their entitlements. 

Further discussions have taken place regarding the SHANNARI App, and an update would be given in due course.

Updates from group members

FCS

FCS is looking at restructuring their internal team. Staff consultation has taken place as has a review of their education work. New roles linking to policy, research and practice are currently being advertised and it was hoped interviews would take place before Christmas. A new Learning and Development worker will develop new training resources across Scotland and support website development which will include Safeguarding information. A Fund Raising and Communications post and two Mental Health and Wellbeing staff will also be employed and start in Feb/Mar 2022 aligning with the Strategic Plan.

The Your Mind Matters platform is developing at pace with the Alpha version being available early in the new year, with a go live date of July.

Some face-to-face work will take place in Helensburgh and Kinloss in January. Listening space services for veterans and parents will also be available and a 

process for referring young people for support. There is potential for a whole school approach. FCS was asked to consult with ES when considering a whole school approach in providing education plans.

The FCS virtual Conference focusing on trauma informed practice had around 163 participants, and a good evaluation. FCS is working with other charities and the FCS representative is now co-chair for the SCiP Alliance.

Army

Apologies received and the following report was submitted.

The Secretary of State for Defence outlined the details of the Integrated Review (IR) on Thursday 25 Nov, which will see a reduction of the Regular Army from 82,000 to 73,000 and an increase to the Army Reserve to 30,100. There will be an impact on Scotland, with the number of Regular units based in Scotland increasing from six to seven. Leuchars will eventually see the greatest change, as two major units move into the Station. Specific times on when units will move is still to be decided. The key changes as outlined in the Future Soldier Guide are:

  • three RIFLES will leave Dreghorn Barracks and be replaced by 1 R IRISH (not before 2027)
  • three SCOTS will move from Fort George to Leuchars (not before 2029)
  • seven Regt RLC will move from Abingdon to Leuchars (not before 2029)
  • two SCOTS will remain in Glencorse Barracks, which will not be closed

HQ 51 Inf Bde and HQ Scotland will focus on delivering Firm Base support to all army units across Scotland, focusing on the Lived Experience for Service Personnel and their Families. It will continue to engage with the Scottish Government, Local Authorities, industry, charities, and other organisations on areas such as housing, spouse employment, health and education. It will also continue to enable the Cadet Forces and enable UK Resilience Operations as the HQ for the Joint Military Command in Scotland. A Future Soldier Guide has been produced and is available via the MOD Website at Future Soldier Guide.

AFFS added that there is a 51st Infantry Brigade aspiration to engage, via focus groups, with newly arrived AF families to get feedback on their arrival experience, and to remain engaged with them throughout their posting. Permissions will also be sought to track their children’s experiences and outcome data. 

RN

Apologies had been received and the following report submitted.

Nothing significant to Report. RN Operational tempo continues apace with the routine deployment of Submarines and Mine Counter Measures vessels from HMNB CLYDE, periods away generally range from one to six months and have the associated impacts on family and child stability. The Future Accommodation Model continues to roll out with improving uptake, this will eventually see an increasing number of Service Families settling in the wider area (up to 50 miles) longer term. Life in HMNB CLYDE continues to return to a more normal pattern, while still aligning with current covid guidelines.

RAF

Apologies had been received and the following report submitted.

No significant issues around education and support for the RAF child in settings across Scotland. Discussions with own local authority suggest that across the region there are increasing issues with emotional regulation and behaviour which is assessed as being a reaction to COVID restrictions and impact of schools closing/remote learning. There is no evidence to suggest the RAF child is any more/less impacted by this as we ultimately reflect the society from which their parents are recruited from. 

The Moray Dandelion Project, which secured significant Armed Forces Covenant funding, is still on hold until further notice. Peripatetic staff are unable to move freely between settings rendering the delivery model impracticable and the assessment from the practitioners is that the current conditions in schools would not create the right conditions for success.

AFFS

It was acknowledged that it had been a challenging year for the MOD Education Support Fund (ESF) in terms of policy and procedure around bids for repeat funding. AFFS had identified a need for change for future rounds of the ESF and the SAFESG will be invited to engage in discussions around this. There had been a good rate of success for ESF bids in Scotland. All were reminded of the in-year bid process.

NTO

The ADES Teacher’s Toolkit - Supporting children of Armed forces personnel in Scotland’s schools: A guide for educators, has been launched on the ADES FCE website, with much positive feedback received. ES has had oversight and the Families Federations are helping to spread the word.

The FCE website had hosted a gallery of poppies drawn by children to mark Remembrance and this had received positive feedback.

Work continues to develop enrolment guidance for AF children in schools in Edinburgh.

The NTO is working with three ES Senior Officers to refresh the Understanding Scottish Education System Guidance that is available on the FCE website. CEAS signpost to this guidance on their website. Discussions are ongoing regarding gathering interesting and good practice. The chair asked for the SG produced document Welcome to Scotland to be added to the FCE website.

Work with ES on Professional Learning Activities is ongoing and includes engagement with Families Federations, MODLAP and SCiP.

The NTO is participating in a focus group to review the new Covenant legislation.

ES

ES and ADES are participating in the production of a 2nd webinar by FCS.

The National Improvement Hub landing page will be updated to reflect new resources and links.

Other agenda items

Covenant Legislation

Consultation continues on the new draft Covenant Legislation. Revised draft legislation will be shared with stakeholder groups and more is to follow.

SAFESG meeting with Families Federations

It was agreed that this should take place at the June meeting. The Secretary will coordinate an invitation.

Head teacher representation

The head teacher representative had been unable to attend the meeting. A further invitation will be sent.

Dates of next meetings

The date of the next meeting has been changed to 22 February 2022 at 1:30pm. The following meeting will then be on Wednesday 8 June 2022.

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