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Primary schools

Prendergast Community Primary School (Pembrokeshire) - Supporting Service children school transition

Prendergast Community Primary School (Pembrokeshire) - Supporting Service children school transition

Prendergast Community Primary (CP) School is situated close to Cawdor Barracks, 14 Signal Regiment, Haverfordwest. Some families are posted to this location for two/three years. There is a high turnover of children, over time the number of children who have stayed in the cohort from the nursery class is low, due to the on-going mobility. The area is rural, and some families can find this isolating.

The school is close to the hospital and has a high turnover of children of medical staff. The school has children from a variety of cultures and speak a number of different languages. Recently the school has seen a change in the numbers of Service children at the school, possibly due to families living married unaccompanied, with only the serving parent moving to work in Haverfordwest, leaving families close to their support networks in other places. There are some veterans who have settled locally, and this includes some school staff members. The school has close links with the local barracks and welfare office and is therefore well informed of deployments, training exercises and planned moves.

Number of Service children at Prendergast CP School: 37 (9%)

Case study completed by: Kay Reynolds, MOD Key Worker and Wellbeing Support

What challenges do the Service children face at Prendergast CP School?

  • They miss their parent when they are deployed or working away
  • Some children find settling into new environment difficult
  • Rural/isolating area
  • Children are away from extended family
  • Children with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) can face challenges with continuity of provision and identifying individual needs, especially younger children
  • Transport to and from the school, as it is a distance from MOD housing.

What positive experiences do Service children bring to your school community?

  • Experiences of the world and other countries
  • More confident and independence
  • Opportunities through the curriculum to share experiences E.g. Learning about winter with a soldier experienced in Artic warfare and the experiences of a cold climate
  • Opportunities to share Armed Forces experiences and celebrate positive elements
  • Children are proud to be part of a Service family; they feel they are a part of the Armed Forces and feel their parents are a role model to them and others.

How does Prendergast CP School support Service children with transition between schools?

  1. Induction for new families
  2. Identifying Service children’s needs
  3. Support for Service children and families
  4. Measuring the impact of support
  5. Engaging with the Armed Forces community.

1. How does the school support the families with induction?

  • We meet with the parents as part of the school induction system and talk to them about the school and the local area
  • We provide families with an induction information pack, which includes school information - school routines, who to go to for help and a booklet about Wales
  • We provide an induction pack for each family to complete, which includes sections for the school to gain an understanding about the child, their background, interests and family information
  • We have a follow up meeting with family, to see how they are settling in and how things are going
  • We arrange opportunities for parents to meet with the MOD key worker
  • The school has dedicated weekly drop ins available for all families to support settling in and wellbeing.

Estyn 2017

“Highly effective links with the local Ministry of Defence base provide beneficial learning opportunities for pupils. For example, it helped Year 6 pupils to learn about artic survival skills as part of their topic work. A key worker, partially funded by the Military of Defence, supports parents and pupils from military families when they arrive at the school and when they move on to a new school. As a result, pupils settle quickly and confidently into their new environment.”       

2. How does the school identify Service children’s needs following admission and during their time at the school?

  • We track and monitor the children’s learning across all areas, identifying any needs
  • We regularly hold pupil progress meetings with class teachers and the senior leaders to identify those children falling behind or needing extension
  • We talk to the parents about their child’s previous support and learning
  • The school has ongoing assessments, that identify individual needs.

3. What support is available for Service children and families?

  • The school has taken time to get to know the school community and its uniqueness, including the Armed Forces, the medical network and the needs of the families
  • Awareness of the experiences and needs of Service Children is embedded in all staff across the school
  • On the gate there is a daily ‘Meet and greet’ by the MOD worker/Wellbeing support, which provides an approachable/visible member of staff for all families
  • The school is an attachment aware school, training has been received by all staff to help them understand about the impact of attachment on behaviour and wellbeing of children
  • ELSA trained staff are available for emotional support across the school
  • Nurture support is available in small groups and we use the Boxall profile to measure progress and impact
  • We are introducing ‘Thrive’ trained staff, undertaking assessments and holding sessions across the school
  • The staff support with daily check-ins and monitoring of children’s wellbeing, followed by intervention if necessary, with the MOD Key worker/Wellbeing support
  • When a Service child moves school, we continuing to provide information and support during the transition; particularly for Service children with ALN
  • The school has support available with daily transport if required.

4. How does the school measure the impact of the support given?

  • Tracking and monitoring using core subject indicators across the curriculum
  • Nurture/Thrive/Boxall Profile assessments are used and reviewed
  • Pupils Attitude to School and Self (PASS) is used to monitor and track wellbeing
  • ‘How do I feel?’ mapping document
  • The induction process is followed up with the child ‘How do I feel?’

Example of impact…

“In 2019 - 100% of Year 6 achieved the core subject indicators, including Service children.”

Child X is a Year 6 Service child who has Additional Learning Needs. Her last three Individual Education Plans (IEPs) have included a target related to increased independence and developing resilience. She has undertaken several interventions, including mathematics, after school and at lunchtime, four times a week. She reads regularly with a Learning Support Assistant (LSA) as part of a teacher led intervention for group reading.

Child X’s mum has recently commented that she feels her child is learning and loving school. This is reflected in the teacher’s observations of child X in class. The class teacher has noticed her confidence grow and child X now readily offers to contribute to class work. The improvement can be seen in the following assessment comparisons from Autumn 2017 to 2018.

Before support - PASS assessment

Child Feelings about school

Perceived learning capability



Preparedness for learning Attitude to teachers General work ethic Confidence in learning Attitudes to attendance Responses to curriculum
Year 6 9.2 74.6 42.3 6.4 48.8 21.7 56.2 49.2 6.8

After support - PASS assessment

Child Feelings about school Perceived learning capability



Preparedness for learning Attitude to teachers General work ethic Confidence in learning Attitudes to attendance Responses to curriculum
Year 6 51.2 83.2 64.8 21.7 75.7 20.4 76.8 78.3 53.6

Estyn 2017

“Pupils take part in a beneficial range of community activities. For example, older pupils regularly lunch with older members of the community who attend the adjacent day care centre. The school’s ‘Yarn Bombers’ crochet for charity and make decorations for the school and Haverfordwest town centre. Pupils also take part in the town’s Remembrance Day services and support local charities.” 

 5. What links does the school have with the local Armed Forces community?

  •  Participate in local Armed Forces Covenant meetings, which is attended by the local authority Armed Forces Champion
  • The school has collaborated with the local authority, Advisory teacher for Welsh to develop a guide to support parents with Welsh – ‘A support guide for you and your child as they begin to learn Welsh’
  • The school developed a project alongside the Haverfordwest VC Gallery, Day Centre drop in, called Project peace to celebrate the WW1 Centenary
  • We run an MKC Heroes club for our Service children
  • We contributed a good practice case study to The Royal British Legion’s Wales, Best Practice Guide
  • We regularly liaise with local services at the Cawdor Barracks, including community support, the welfare office and youth worker.
Date produced: December 2019

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."