‘Schools must do more for forces pupils’, research says

Report calls for greater awareness among teachers of the ‘distinctive experiences’ faced by children in forces families

Emma Seith

Schools must do more to research armed forces families, research argues

Research into the experience of children from armed forces families has found schools must do more to support them.

The research, which is believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland, focused on the experiences of children and young people from armed forces families in five schools.

It found that prior to taking part in the study, many of the children had “little opportunity to explore and reflect on their experiences of being part of an armed forces family”. For children to feel supported in school, it was important for the experiences they faced as part of a forces family to be recognised, the research said – but this did not happen consistently.

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The research – carried out by Dr Evelyn Bowes and co-funded by armed forces children’s charity the Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET), and the Economic and Social Research Council  – calls for schools to:

  • Increase awareness and understanding among teachers and school staff of the distinctive experiences that children from forces families may face.
  • Enhance opportunities for dialogue with and between pupils that encourages expression of and reflections about their experiences.
  • Work collaboratively with parents, the wider community and the armed forces to improve understanding and identify new possibilities for action.

The research was officially launched at the RCET conference held today in Edinburgh, where University of Dundee academic and expert on transitions Professor Divya Jindal-Snape highlighted the multiple transitions experienced by children from armed-forces families. These included: sudden deployment of a parent to a combat zone; frequent moving to a different city, school or education system; and entering new schools at unusual times of the year.

Colin Flinn, chief executive of RCET, said: “RCET was delighted to commission and co-fund this research as there was, and still is, a real paucity of Scottish based research focusing on the views of children and young people from armed forces families.”

According to RCET, armed forces children can face a range of issues in and out of the classroom, including disrupted learning, lower attainment and poor confidence and wellbeing as a result of regularly moving around and parental deployments.

For some children, these could act as a real barrier to achieving their full potential in education, and in life, the charity said.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for TES Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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