If you’re looking for inspiration when it comes to supporting secondary-age service children, then look no further than Carterton Community College near Brize Norton.
The school has approximately 25% service children who are supported by service children’s champion and Service Pupil lead Hannah Owen. Little Troopers has been working with the school since 2021 when four students featured as guests on the Little Troopers SQUAD podcast for military teens. Several students also contributed to the Children and Military Lives temporary exhibition at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum in 2022, which Little Troopers helped to curate.
Bringing students together
Before 2020, two friends at the school asked Mrs Owen if they could set-up a regular Service Club so that no service child felt alone. The club was also a safe space where they could get to know each other and share worries and experiences.
Every Thursday the Service Club now meets in a designated space called ‘The Hanger’ to chat, play games and sometimes do activities from the Little Troopers Forces Life Club Pack or Secondary School Resource Hub. There are four service children ambassadors from each school house who help to run the Club and represent the voice of the students.
The Club also regularly invites visitors from the military community to come and chat to the students. Once a term the John Egging Trust visits to work on team building skills and helps the students identify their unique strengths.
This term, students from Service Club have been working on a special new project – the launch of their very own newspaper. Inspired by the Little Troopers Gazette, the paper will feature interviews, news stories, graphics and more, all written and created by service children in the school. They hope to share a new edition each term with parents, staff, students, governors and the local community.
Keeping in touch
The Hangar is a space that service students can also use throughout the week for homework, revision and keeping in touch with parents who are away from home via FaceTime or Skype.
The school encourages families to fill out a form (available online and from reception) when a parent is due to deploy. Carterton College has a dedicated Counsellor available for service children should they need it and they also offer basic First Aid training to military teens, in the knowledge that when a parent is deployed, older siblings often take on a more parental role in the home.
Students can also use Google Classroom to keep in touch with teachers during non-school hours or during the school holidays if they have a parent serving away.
Month of the Military Child
Every April, the school celebrates the official Month of the Military Child. Over the years they’ve done lots of exciting things such as having falcons from Brize Norton land in the school field! This year they are planning a visit from the military services including a fire engine, police car and dogs, medical team and the military chefs. Every year Carterton Community College also invites 75 service children to be first aid trained and certified by an external agency to help at home and with siblings when a parent or parents are away.
The school will also take part in a ‘Festival of Friends’ in July, an event organised by Oxfordshire County Council and open to all local schools with service children to share best practice, work collaboratively and bring service children together. It is part of many activities that the County Council does to champion service children across the county.
Mrs Owen spoke to Little Troopers about her role at the school last year and you can read her interview here.