Argyll and Bute Council has secured a £147,000 grant towards supporting schools which educate children of armed forces parents.
The grant comes from the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Support Fund for State Schools with Service Children.
The money will be used to help Service children – who have often moved schools several times by the time they come to Argyll and Bute – to improve their self-confidence and integrate more quickly into their new communities.
News of the grant was welcomed by Councillor Ellen Morton, Argyll and Bute’s spokesperson for education and lifelong learning, who said: “It is extremely important to the well-being of these children that the transition to one of our schools is as smooth as possible, and we already make significant efforts in this regard.
“However, there is always more which could be done, and this grant will largely be used to provide increased short term support to those schools with Service children and to provide training and resources for teaching staff in a bid to lead to improved outcomes for all.”
The number of Service children in Argyll and Bute – which currently stands at about 780, some 25% of the school population in the Helensburgh and Lomond area - is expected to rise in future as the Maritime Change Programme, which will see more service personnel move to HM Naval Base Clyde, comes into effect.
A small amount of the £147,000 allocated will enable the council’s education service to set up a steering committee to build on existing good relationships and allow both communities to plan for the future changes.
The vast majority of the funding, however, will be used to address the disruption to learning experienced by Service children along with the inevitable distress experienced by children when one or other of their parents is on active duty.
One strand of the project will provide maths recovery training to enable teachers to identify early on where there are difficulties or gaps in learning in maths, which are likely to significantly impact a child’s ability in maths in later years.
The trained teachers will be able to work not just with the children of naval personnel but with any children experiencing such difficulties, and will also be able to support other teachers across Argyll and Bute in doing the same thing.
Councillor Morton said: “There are various different reasons why Service children’s learning may need extra support, and this money will be used to provide that support in as comprehensive and effective a way as possible.
“Children moving to Scotland – and therefore from one curriculum to another - may also need to make up the differences between the different curricula in different countries.
“The funding allocated will allow for schools to provide support for these children and also provide opportunities to carry out a matching exercise between the curricula of various countries which can be used by any school in Argyll and Bute, whether service children are on the roll or not.
“Service children make up a significant and much valued proportion of our school population, and I am delighted that we have been successful in securing additional funding aimed at easing their transition into Argyll and Bute’s schools and communities. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the MoD in this respect.”
Lynda Fisher, Director of the MOD’s Children and Young People Directorate, said: “We know that moving from one school to another can be a challenging time for the children of serving personnel, and this £3m fund has been set up to help mitigate some of the effects of moving away from familiar surroundings.
“The money will allow schools to provide measures to ensure children of Service families do not suffer any disadvantage by moving to or through different school systems. It was pleasing to see the interesting and varied projects that local authorities, academies and schools with Service children are already putting in place to help cope with the potential impact caused by deployment.”