Scottish Armed Forces Education Support Group minutes: September 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the Scottish Armed Forces Education Support Group held on 30 September 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Scottish Government Learning Directorate (Chair)
  •  Defence Policy Unit
  •  Education Scotland
  • HQ 51st Infantry Brigade & HQ Scotland
  • MOD Directorate Children and Young People (DCYP)
  • ADES Adviser
  • ADES National Transitions Officer (NTO)
  • Navy
  • RAF
  • Army
  • Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET)


  • Scottish Government Defence Policy Unit

Items and actions

1.  In attendance and apologies

2. Agreement of last Notes

The notes from the last dial-in were agreed.

3. Firm Base Update

The Deputy Commander of HQ 51st Infantry Brigade and HQ Scotland thanked the members of the Group for the continued support given to AF children in Scotland. He highlighted the NTO as a key strategic role for Defence.  He recognised the collaborative work of the Group and called on all to build on this further to support the best outcomes for AF children. The current pressures on AF families are unlikely to change and some may be exacerbated by COVID-19. He advised there was no further update on numbers of families moving in or out of Scotland but that the Brigade is engaged with the Defence Policy Unit who would be kept fully updated. He recognised that not all problems can be resolved but asked that those who can, seek to do the best they can to ease the transition for AF children.

4. Main agenda items

Terms of Reference (ToRs)

The comments from the Group on the current ToRs had been reviewed by the Chair. It was proposed, and agreed, that the Group should take some time to review the role and purpose of the Group and also that future work should focus on Angela Morgan’s report on Additional Support for Learning and the MOD Living in Our Shoes Report. This will provide an opportunity to set out a clear focus for the group going forward.

It was recognised that the Group does not currently feed into wider national groups, including the ASL improvement group, and that this is the aspiration going forward. A discussion on data around AF children will be also be an action for this Group.  A plea was made for connections to be made between the Group and local partnership meetings to check connection between policy and delivery. It was highlighted that the voice of children and young people is important to policy development.

  • Action: Meeting to be arranged to discuss the ToRs. - Chair and Secretary

MOD Education Support Fund (ESF)

The closing date for applications to the MOD ESF is by noon on 7 October. The Scotland Regional Panel will take place virtually on 20 October and be chaired by SG. A Head Teacher will be invited to join the Panel. The applications received will be e-mailed to Panel members on or around 13 October. Once the applications have been circulated the Chair of each Panel will be invited to participate in a UK wide discussion.

  • Action: Further guidance and ToRs for the Panel will be sent out next week by the Secretary. - Secretary
  • Action: DCYP will notify the Panel Chair of the details of the UK-wide discussion. - DCYP

Future arrangements for the ESF may be different, including a specific focus on schools with low numbers of AF children.

  • Action: DCYP to keep the Group updated. DCYP

Updates from Group members on work related to COVID-19

Navy – Links maintained with Family Support Officer at Faslane. Strong links with West Dunbartonshire also maintained. Meeting taking place with Navy Families Federation later in the week.

Army – Feedback from HQ Scotland Welfare Coordination Group has not revealed any significant current issues. There were some challenges during lockdown when schools were closed. A review of the Living in Our Shoes report will be tabled at the next Firm Base Steering Group in November.

NTO - COVID pages on website and newsletters to the education community have been well received. Use of virtual platform has been enhanced and has been helpful to those who want to meet, including Families Federation Reps, Armed Forces Working Group and Schools.  Notification of deployment form created and available on website, and circulated to 2 SCOTS ahead of deployment in October. NTO is engaged with 2 SCOTS and schools regarding support for families during the deployment.

DCYP – Busy responding to COVID issues affecting overseas children, including some cases where virtual learning has continued since March, which may have an impact on learning when returning to the UK.  A number of projects in Scotland are likely to benefit from the DCYP Early Years Fund.

Education Scotland – An enormous amount of work has been undertaken in response to the effects of COVID. This will be a recovery year rather than resource development. More support for professional learning in consultation with NTO and RCET.  

ADES Adviser – All 32 LA Directors of Education are participating in weekly Zoom meetings with 100% participation across Scotland.  These meetings focus on exchange of good and emerging practice. Local approaches to families testing COVID positive being developed. Some limited evidence in England of absences due to COVID coupled with blended learning is allowing some children to drop out of the system without being noticed.   No evidence of this in Scotland as yet. There has been an increase in requests for home schooling in Scotland.

  • Action: ADES Adviser to be informed of any instances of children dropping out of the system - All

RCET - 100 children and parents have been supported through the Crisis Intervention Fund, including through issue of wellbeing boxes. The Fund is still open. Youth Forum activity has carried on via ZOOM but has reduced slightly following the return to school. Results of a survey compiled by young people will be available soon. A new CEO will take over in early December.

Scottish Government – The main focus has been on education recovery and provision of PPE. COVID guidance is regularly updated and available at

Work progressed since last meeting

DCYP – Continued discussions around future funding for NTO post and business planning for delivery over the next couple of years.

5. Actions from last 2 meetings


Armed Forces Covenant – Legislation focus groups

Focus Groups held and these have highlighted differences between Scottish and English context and the need for these to work for Scotland. There is a gap in finding one document to suit all the devolved administrations. Policy discussions with  counterparts in England ongoing.

2019 Event evaluation

  • Action: DCYP to work with Education Scotland to finalise evaluation findings. DCYP/Education Scotland

Future SSCSG Event – Further discussion required around potential for a virtual event in April 2021 that could also include smaller group activity. ASL legislation and transfer of schools records suggested as topics for inclusion. This would be a good forum to acknowledge and recognise activities in support of AF children. RCET advised that the National Youth Forum would also be willing to participate.

  • Action: To be discussed at next meeting - Chair

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

  • Action: To be discussed at next meeting - NTO/Education Scotland

Dispersed families – sharing good practice – To be discussed and developed through discussions with Families Federations and family focus groups with the aim of producing a package of information for early in the New Year.

  • Action: NTO to keep the Group updated - NTO 

Research opportunities – Funding still available within DCYP. Suggestions welcome to identify needs. There is a known gap in terms of good quality fiction within a UK context for early years and primary school children dealing with deployment and separation. DCYP is commissioning some publishing houses to develop materials and is seeking volunteers to sit on an advisory panel.

  • Action: Chair to work with DCYP to establish a small working group to look at gaps and identify research opportunities - Chair/DCYP
  • Action: Anyone interested in joining an Advisory panel to notify DCYP- All

The RCET literature review is due to be completed by end November.

A series of resources titled Cloud 9 have been produced by the RAF Benevolent Fund. A copy of these has been circulated to the Group. Comments would be welcome.

  • Action: Any comments on the Cloud 9 resources to be sent to the RAF Representative - All

Twinning between Scotland and England Schools – DCYP and NTO have collaborated and established connections across boundaries in order to connect tri-service schools and share experiences. The initial meeting of this Professional Learning Network has taken place with representatives from Scotland and England, and was positively received. The challenges around glossary of terms, transfer and timing of information, curriculum differences and school starting ages featured in the child centred discussions. The established ADES Headteachers’ Forum will address issues identified and lessons learned.

  • Action: The Group will be kept updated on this work - DCYP/NTO

Impact of ESF part-funding for NTO Post

A number of conversations have taken places over the last few months around recognising the extent of the NTO role (including across boundaries and the benefits this can bring to supporting transition), and securing appropriate and sustainable future resources and funding. DCYP are looking at other possible options. The Deputy Commander highlighted the need for the tri-Services to amplify the NTO role in supporting current and future transition needs for AF children. 

Action: Tri-Service Representatives to amplify the role of the NTO in their areas - Navy/RAF/Army Representatives

6. Any other business

Invitation to Families Federations to meet with the SSCSG – It was agreed that a further meeting with the Families Federations is to be arranged. This will provide additional feedback directly from the families, including around the ground level experience of moving to Scotland. It will also enhance communication and collaboration between stakeholders.

  • Action: Families Federations to be invited to meet with the Group - Chair/Secretary

Collection and Use of Data – The collection and use of data around AF children, and data collected to date will be an agenda item for the next meeting. This will enable discussion on how the data can assist when responding to reports and future work planning.

Action: Collection and use of data to be added to the agenda for the next meeting - Secretary

7. Arrangements for next meeting

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

  • Wednesday 2 December 2020
  • Wednesday 3 March 2021
  • Wednesday 9 June 2021
Back to top