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Primary schools

Brynmill Primary School (Swansea) - Tailored pastoral support for Service children

Brynmill Primary School (Swansea) - Tailored pastoral support for Service children

Brynmill Primary School is a large primary school serving a residential area in Swansea West. Whilst the school has no grassed areas and outside space is of a premium, the school benefits from two local parks and the beach. Brynmill Primary is situated within a short distance of Swansea University and Singleton Hospital, many children of students who are from around the world, attend Brynmill Primary for the duration of their study. It is not near an Armed Forces base or unit and currently has just one Service family.

Number of Service children at Brynmill Primary School: 2 (1%)

Case study completed by: Danielle Ciaburri, Family and Wellbeing Leader

Estyn 2019

“The elected ‘Wellbeing Warriors’ and ‘Blues Busters’ support other pupils effectively and demonstrate high levels of care. For example, a group of older pupils take responsibility each day for playing with pupils who find social interaction a challenge during breaktimes.”

What experiences do Service children bring to your school community?

The children talk about and share stories of their parent’s experiences of travelling the world with peers and staff. The children talk about their unique perspective in relation to relevant current affairs. For staff working directly with the children, this contributes to a growing understanding of the kinds of challenges some Armed Forces families’ experience.

Estyn 2019

“The provision to support vulnerable pupils has a beneficial impact on their personal development, their social skills and their progress in learning. This is a strength of the school. The learning environment provides effective support for pupils’ wellbeing.“

  1. Challenges Service children face
  2. Support available for Service children and families
  3. Accessing funding
  4. Measuring impact
  5. Sustainability of support.

Estyn 2019

“The headteacher is part of a group of headteachers who are developing ‘My Selfie’ as a system for capturing wellbeing initiatives and pupils’ attitudes to learning.”

1.    What challenges do the Service children face at Brynmill Primary School?

  • The children anticipate their father going away and the sense of loss this is going to bring
  • The children suffer from separation anxiety when their father is away on deployment. This impacts upon the children’s emotional wellbeing and their behavior and effects their ability to;
  1. Resolve conflict with their peers
  2. Concentrate on their learning when they are upset
  3. Understand their feelings
  • When their Dad is deployed, he is not able to attend parent meetings, class assemblies or concerts as other parents would. The children love and miss their Dad coming to school events during deployment
  • Previously, the children were reluctant to come to school because they did not want to leave their mother while their father was away.

2.    What strategies and support have been put in place at Brynmill Primary School?

  • The Lead Worker/ Teaching Assistant supports the children in a child-centred and child-led approach, initially building a trustful, respectful working relationship with the child, which is crucial and the foundation for the children to feel safe to talk
  • The Lead Worker/ Teaching Assistant uses a counselling model based on Rogers and Egan. They talk about what they are finding difficult and challenging so that the Lead Worker/ Teaching Assistant can tentatively make suggestions for possible ways forward
  • The Lead Worker/ Teaching Assistant uses ‘Team around the Family’ materials that stimulate discussion and gives an insight into how they see their world.  In some instances, they use emotion and problem cards for the child to identify what they see as their problem. Team Around the Family support books are also used namely “Me and My World”
  • The Lead Worker/ Teaching Assistant uses an Eco-map to talk about family relationships and their network of support
  • Sessions are available on a one to one basis with both children, weekly, to ensure that their emotional needs are met and that if they have any worries, they are able to talk about them
  • The children talk about their network of support at home and who they can talk to at home and school if needed
  • The children have an allocated Lead Worker/ Teaching Assistant in class for support which helps with their concentration with learning. The children do not like to be singled out, however they prefer to work in groups, and this is a strategy that works well for the children
  • We use published material from a range of sources, relevant to age and understanding of each child with the aim of raising their self-esteem, belief and confidence. The children respond well to opportunities to draw, which seems to make it easier for them to engage with the focus of the learning e.g. getting along with others. In some respects, the approach is more important than the material prompting discussion
  • As the  Wellbeing Leader, I use ‘Exchange Counselling Service Resilience’ cards with the Service children and utilise my training
  • in Emotional Coaching
  • Eco-maps to have a better understanding of relationships within a family and the children’s network of support (Example: eco map guidance and template)
  • Emotion boxes can be accessed easily around the school, where children place notes regarding any concerns they have
  • One of the Service children has been using a Worry Monster to place any worries or concerns they have inside.

Estyn 2019

“Pupils have created ‘mindset mascots’ to remind them to be resilient, collaborative and reflective and this has had a positive impact on their learning.”

3.    What is the impact of accessing funding to support the development of strategies?

We were awarded funding from the Welsh Governments grant scheme in 2018/19. Without the funding, we would not have been able to appoint our Lead Worker/ Teaching Assistant. She has developed a repertoire of approaches and strategies that she is able to disseminate with colleagues. Her understanding has contributed to a growing empathy with families who are missing someone special. This reinforces our school ethos and motto” Being different, belonging together, being the best, we can be.”

4.    How do you measure the impact of the support provided?

  • Through observations, using an emotional scaling tool to ascertain how the child is feeling and communicate with class teachers on a regular basis
  • When a Service child wants to talk to me about an issue on a voluntary basis as well as when the child is approached for a discussion 
  • The school carries out an annual wellbeing assessment for all pupils including children supported by the Armed Forces fund grantBuilding relationships, trust and connection with the children and their parents
  • The children have grown in confidence in how they manage socially around the school and in class.

Estyn 2019

“The school has robust systems to track pupils’ progress and wellbeing.”


5.    How will Brynmill Primary School ensure the sustainability of support in the future?

  • The Lead Worker/ Teaching Assistant shares her knowledge of successful strategies with to relevant staff in the Wellbeing team and class teachers. This in turn extends their knowledge and skills in working with children facing a range of challenges
  • The school ensures all staff are well informed and up to date with wellbeing training and support e.g. recent Charlie Waller Trust training on the importance of supporting children with positive mental health.

Example of impact…

  • Child X suffers from separation anxiety; when father is deployed abroad this has an impact upon child X leaving the mother as well as missing the father. Through building a positive working relationship with this child they were able to talk about their anxiety and feelings. A reward chart was given to child X to encourage them to come into school without being upset when leaving their mother. This had a positive impact when the child arrived in school.
  • Sometimes both siblings feel sad when father is deployed, we talk through with them their negative thoughts and ask them to think about what positive thoughts they can think of to replace the negative e.g. Their favourite place to visit.


Date produced: January 2020 










Primary schools

Service children’s quotes

"As soon as we get used to a house, you get moved - I’ve been to four schools and moved six times."


"I lived in Nepal, then we went to Brunei, then Malaysia."


"In my eyes, you have hundreds of friends in different places."


"I’m used to moving now and mixing with the children... I’ve done it so many times, it’s just a normal thing now."


"It's ok talking over skype and that, but sometimes you just want a hug when Dad is away."


"I’ve enjoyed going around to lots of places around the world, it's adventurous and exciting."


"In my eyes, you have hundreds of friends in different places."


"My mum got a chalk board and it says how many sleeps on it with chalk, every minute it’s getting closer for him coming home."


"I don’t want him to get promoted... I want him to get promoted but I don’t want to leave."


"I might be going to boarding school so that I don’t change schools every few years."


"I've been to seven different schools; I’ve not stayed put in one school long enough."


"He has been away for six months and he is back for two weeks, then he goes away again."


"My parents were in the Army. My mum is a like a nurse and my dad went to the war in Afghanistan. I actually didn’t really know what he was doing so I was like, ‘Cool Dad, go there,’ but then I found out and thought, 'Thank God he came back alive.'"


"He signed off last week, so he will be done by the end of this year. He’s done 24 years. I find that better because he will be around a lot. He likes watching us playing rugby, so he will get to see us more."


"I’m going to a new place entirely. They don’t know anything about me and that’s a big restart and that’s really good for me."


"I moved to Wales because my dad was posted in the Army. I thought I would get bullied and I was shy when you meet new people, but I made some friends."