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Supporting Military Families in Portsmouth

Supporting Service Children with SEND in Portsmouth

There are approximately 900 service children in the local area (based on Service Pupil Premium data). This figure does not include young people at college, university or private schools. Approximately 90% of these are from Naval families. There are some Army and RAF families too. Part of the work being undertaken in the local area is to ensure that as many schools as possible are ‘forces friendly’.

Children and young people with parents in the Armed Forces face challenges that may go beyond the experience of the majority of families and children living in the UK (Ofsted, 2011). The families of Service personnel are often highly mobile and can experience prolonged periods of separation which can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety.

There are a number of key issues/challenges that Service families can face when considering education and learning. Research completed by the Portsmouth Educational Psychology service suggests that most of the needs of service family children are around anxiety and mental health due to parents going away and coming back. Autistic children can also find difficulty in adapting to the unpredictability of deployment and changing schedules. Click here to read full research report

How are we supporting Service families in Portsmouth

Educational Psychologist with a specific link role – works closely with the Naval Families Federation to help address a need identified in the city (i.e. the lack of support for children/families).

ELSA+ training – additional training for ELSAs to support with their understanding of life as a Service family and the key challenges they face so that they can better support children and families.

Parental Absence resource – this resource has been shared with all schools and with the EP team.

Armed Forces Covenant Group – ensuring that Service families are not disadvantaged because of their military status.

  • Portsmouth City Council has the gold award
  • A needs assessment was conducted in October 2018 across the four Solent Local Authorities – this has led to various task groups who all report back to the covenant board.

Supporting Service Children in Progression (SCiP alliance)

Research by the University of Winchester and the Ministry of Defence highlights that children from Service families are under-represented in the higher education population, with continuity of education, parental deployment and separation among the biggest factors that impact educational progression to further and higher education.

  • Portsmouth Educational Psychology Service and Naval Families Federation are linked in with the Outreach Manager who is in the process of setting up a South East Hub which includes various stakeholder groups and education settings (other hubs exist around the country).

Pompey’s Military Kids (PMK)

Pompey’s Military Kids is a joint initiative set up by the Naval Families Federation (NFF) and Portsmouth City Council (PCC), working with representatives from various schools across the city. The Cluster Group supports Service children in a number of difference ways and local schools now share good ideas and best practice through collaborative working. Events and activities are organised by NFF and PCC which bring Service children together, to encourage them to interact, make new friends and support each other. This means that there is now a network of young people who are helping and supporting each other within the wider community.

Some of the activities and support they offer include:

  • Termly events for children across the schools (e.g. ship visits, trips to the dockyard, author book signing, ‘Company of Makers’ – sewing workshops using serving persons military uniform, Christmas parties etc).
  • Annual sports day for all Service children in the cluster group and their parents to attend, organised and hosted by the Royal Navy.
  • Most schools now have regular Service children lunchtime/after school groups (SPP funds the staffing).
  • Sharing of resources / best practice (e.g. all schools are now using an information sheet to gather information from parents on Service, deployments etc.
  • Schools are now aware that Naval children/families can access counselling from Relate for free (one child was seen within two weeks after the school became aware). Relate have also gone in and done group sessions over six weeks in secondary schools (they realised the children weren’t going to come to them so they went into schools).
  • Sharing of ideas for how to use SPP to support children’s emotional wellbeing (e.g. personalised jigsaw puzzles/cushions, travelling teddies, iPads for Skype, ELSA, scrapbooks, memory boxes, tea parties).
  • Transition support between schools (e.g. junior to Secondary).
  • Work with the Boleh Trust to offer a sailing programme to schools from April to October (second year now). Not all children have opportunities to do things like this when there is just one caregiver at home. It also reflects the strengths based approach and resilient ‘can do’ attitude that is needed when working with Service families. CYP evaluation forms are being used this sailing season.

Click here to visit the Pompey’s Military Kids website.

SCiP South Hub

The South Hub of the SCiP Alliance’s Hub Network is chaired by the University of Portsmouth, with support from Arts University Bournemouth and the Southern Universities Network.

The hub aims to bring practitioners and supporters of service children together across the local region to share, and shape, good practice relating to the educational engagement and progression of service children. The hub coordinates a programme of CPD, with sessions delivered by a wide range of individuals and organisations who work to support service children, families and schools. The sessions help to connect schools to local opportunities, and the programme of CPD is structured around the 7 Thriving Lives Principals, helping to bring to live the good practice that is helping service children thrive.

The hub also provides a termly update newsletter. To sign up to the hub and receive information on future CPD sessions, click here.

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