Test Valley (secondary)

Supporting secondary—aged child in Hampshire

The Little Troopers Secondary School Resource Hub was created to provide teachers with a toolbox of lesson plans, activity templates and other practical ideas that are specifically designed to support older military children in school.

Test Valley School in Hampshire is one school that has already been utilising the resources as part of its broader strategy to support service pupils. The secondary school has 50 military children and Family Coordinator, Sarah Thomsett, turned to the Little Troopers website for inspiration on new ways to bring these children together and encourage them to share their experiences.

The school are now using a number of the Little Troopers resources, alongside its existing activities and resources from the SCiP Alliance Thriving Lives toolkit, to improve communication with serving families and get service children from year 7 to 11 talking about military life in school.

Forces Life Club

Having downloaded the Little Troopers Forces Life Club pack, the school launched its own forces lunchtime club for service children which runs once every half term. The club is an extension of the school’s Service Child Ambassador programme, where a nominated service child in each class is buddied up with new military children and responsible for helping them settle in by walking them to class and introducing them to new friends.

Sarah Thomsett explains: “Secondary school is a big change from primary school as students spend the day moving between different lessons. It’s not always easy to offer the same level of day-to-day pastoral support. That’s why the Forces Life Club is a great addition to our Service Child Ambassador programme. It gives us a reason to regularly bring our service children together and encourage them to talk to about their experiences. It helps them to feel part of a community and also gives us the opportunity to spot when additional support is needed. We keep in regular contact with our service families, but information about deployments or house moves isn’t always forthcoming from parents. The Forces Life Club will be another valuable channel of communication between the school and service families.”

Practical activities

In addition to the Forces Life Club pack, the school downloaded all of the other Little Troopers resources from the Hub and invited the service children to select the activities that most interested them. The children decided to do an Armed Forces Assembly to the whole school which they are planning for when Covid restrictions have lifted. During the Assembly they will share with their friends and classmates what life is like in the Armed Forces community and how it can be different from civilian life.

Sarah adds: “We are already seeing a really positive impact on our service pupils who are growing in confidence as they recognise that being a military child is not a negative thing but something they are incredibly proud of. They have really enjoyed having the autonomy to choose the Little Troopers activities themselves and this is something we will continue into the new school year.

Teacher-facing resources

Finally, the school have also been using a number of the teacher-facing resources from the Resource Hub including the Leadership Ticklist, Parent Perspective and Governor Guidance advice. Sarah says: “The Governor Guidance in particular has been fantastic. None of our governors are from service families so they found the information really useful as it highlighted lots of things they hadn’t considered before. The leadership Ticklist has also been a really helpful way of checking that we have everything in place and are covering all areas.

“We are always looking for new ways to go that extra mile to support our service families but until recently there hasn’t been a lot of information for older military children. The Little Troopers Secondary School Resource Hub has been a welcome addition and has given us lots of tools and new ideas to help make sure our service children feel recognised, included and proud of their identity.”