Service Children at Five Acres
Five Acres has a long and proud tradition of working with the Army to support and educate Service children. The school generally has approximately 35-40% pupils form Service families. In recent years these have included children from DEMS and 1LSR and, before their disbandment, the Pioneer Regiment.
Our named member of staff who works as a champion for Service pupils is Mrs Sue Ewers, although we expect all staff—including office and support staff, teachers and the leadership team - to be familiar with the specific needs of Service families, and to be able to support children and their families. Indeed we expect all staff to meet the needs of all children, whatever their background—the majority of pupils at Five Acres do not have a Service background.
We aim to provide a high quality of education in a safe, supportive and caring environment for all children from their arrival at the school to their departure, however long they stay. The school employs a number of adults with a Service background, and the governing body always has a strong Service contingent who can champion the needs of our Service children and their families.
We do recognise that children who have moved location may have a number of specific needs, which may include:
- Different approaches to teaching and learning (including gaps in knowledge) from previous schools or repetition of topics; and different expectations for behaviour from previous schools
- Loss of friends from previous schools and disruption of friendships and friendship groups on arrival (which can affect Service and non-service pupils) and issues in making friends on arrival
- For Service children there can be anxiety when a parent is on active duty, especially in a war zone or in the build up to a posting or a return from duty
We know that all of the above can be magnified for vulnerable children, especially children with SEND, as moving between different local authorities can mean frustrating delays in support being agreed. The staff at Five Acres are experienced in identifying the particular support needs of ‘mobile’ pupils and are able to offer practical strategies to help children to settle in to their new school quickly and effectively.
The school is proud of the central role that effective pastoral support plays in meeting the needs of all our pupils. We have systems in place to ensure that children who need support at a given time—Service or non-service—will be identified and school staff will endeavour to ensure that these needs are met. Our robust safeguarding processes ensure that all children, whatever their background, are kept safe; children’s well-being is at the heart of all we do.
We are also proud to support the Armed Forces Covenant and as part of this we track Service pupils as a group in terms of both attainment and well-being, to ensure that pupils are getting the best we can offer.
We are also very aware of the many benefits that working alongside the Army can bring; to our pupils and we therefore actively promote connections with local regiments, and have enjoyed many exciting visits to the DEMS training centre in Arncott, as well as visits to the school by Service personnel.