Military children are an integral part of the British Armed Forces community, which is why tapping into this sense of community is a good place to start when supporting service children in school.
One school leading by example is King Charles C of E Primary School in Falmouth. The school runs a weekly Little Troopers Club on a Tuesday lunchtime, bringing together 13 military children from different year groups. The club fosters a sense of community by offering military children a space to talk about their connection to the forces and make new friendships based on their shared experiences.
In the club, the children can chat about military life, make crafts to give to their serving parents, take part in activities from the Little Troopers at School programme, or simply spend time having fun together. In December, the group also received free tickets from Little Troopers to see the local pantomime.
Group leader, Anna Broughton, explains: “The Little Troopers Club is about helping military children recognise they are part of a special community that deserves to be celebrated. We don’t always talk about military life in the club; sometimes it’s enough just to be together. But if they do ever get upset, or if some of the younger children are struggling to understand why their parent is away from home, the club gives them a safe space to talk about this and to hear from other children who have gone through the same thing. We are very much driven by the children and their needs and interests.”
The Little Troopers Club is part of a broader school initiative at King Charles to celebrate and learn about local community groups. Every Tuesday any child that is part of a recognised community group, such as the scouts or guides, can wear their community uniform to school and the school has invested in Little Troopers hoodies and medals for military children to wear. The children have also created a Little Troopers display board in the main corridor to show their civilian peers what life is like in the Armed Forces, including a map to show where their Mums and Dads are in the world.
Anna continues: “The hoodies and the display board have prompted lots of interest from the other children who have been asking questions and wanting to learn more about Armed Forces Life which has been great to see.”
With emphasis on two-way communication between home and school, King Charles also sends out a dedicated Service Families Newsletter to parents to keep them up-to-date with what the children have been doing in the Little Troopers Club and to encourage parents to get involved and share ideas for future activities and trips. The school is also planning to incorporate other Little Troopers resources and activities into the club later this year.
Headteacher, Lee Moscato, concludes: “The Little Troopers Club is about nurturing our service children and supporting their wellbeing. If we can make sure our service children feel happy, safe, cared for and loved, then we can remove any potential barriers to learning. That’s where the importance of ‘community’ comes into play. It’s not just about acknowledging military children in the classroom; it’s about acknowledging their place in the wider community and having that constant connection and conversation with our Service families. We’ve had lovely comments from parents so far who find it very reassuring and of great comfort that we are looking out for their children and that we have a good understanding of the challenges that military life can bring.”