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Primary schools

Priory CIW Primary School (Powys) - Understanding Service children experiences and challenges

Priory CIW Primary School (Powys) - Understanding Service children experiences and challenges

Priory Church in Wales (CIW) Primary School is situated in Brecon, the home of 160th (Welsh) Brigade and Headquarters of Wales, The Infantry Battle training barrack and close to the Sennybridge training base. The Armed Forces community is a mix of serving personnel and veterans (ex-Service personnel). The majority of families have one parent who is serving personnel. The children often stay at the school for two or three years, following a posting to the area. If a parent is promoted, they may move on more quickly.

Number of Service children at Priory Church in Wales School: 15 (10%)

Case study completed by: Claire Pugh, Senior Teacher

  1. Positive experiences
  2. Challenges Service children face
  3. Identifying the needs of Service children
  4. Induction
  5. Overcoming challenges
  6. Sustaining the support
  7. Engagement with the Armed Forces and local community

1.    How does Priory CIW Primary School share the positive experiences of being a Service child?

  • We celebrate the experiences they share with their class, staff and other children
  • Being part of the school council allows them to share their views and opinions as a group of learners
  • We share reading experiences using ‘Reading Force’, which has proved successful with Armed Forces families because:
    1.    It has promoted more talk and discussion in the family home and provided a commonality between places of work and home life
    2.    It has provided some acceptance that the parent will be home soon, and they have both had the enjoyment of sharing a book
    3.    It allows some quiet time for the children with mum at home where they can talk about worries, concerns and highlights/excitements of their journey’s ahead
    4.    It has supported the child’s social and emotional wellbeing as it has enabled them to talk about their feelings

2. What challenges do Service children face at Priory CIW Primary School?

  • Being able to manage their emotions and wellbeing when they are dealing with different situations
  • Being separated from a parent when they are working away
  • Saying goodbye to friends who are moving on
  • Managing transition, which can include periods of change within the family unit
  • Adapting to different education systems, including different curriculums and subjects, changes to the pedagogy and learning and teaching systems
  • Some families joining the school have different expectations of education, based on their previous experiences and this can cause anxiety for parents.

3. How does Priory CIW Primary School identify Service children’s needs?

  • Learning will be undertaken and assessed once the child starts at the school, the gaps in the children’s learning will be identified by the teachers and interventions will be put into place e.g. Precision teaching
  • In literacy the children will have interventions if necessary, after they have had a period of one to one time, with the class teacher, who will assess reading levels and complete a spelling assessment to identify age-related levels
  • We use Building Blocks across the school, a plan, monitor, report and assess programmes to track children’s learning outcomes and progress
  • The teachers meet with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to discuss and share progress of different groups of learners. When children are identified, we put actions in place to support their needs e.g. emotional support or learning interventions.

4. How does Priory CIW Primary School use induction to support Service children?

  • We meet with the family and show them around; giving us an opportunity to get to know the child and family, their learning and personality
  • We ask about any previous support they may have had for Additional Learning Needs (ALN) or emotional support and then ensure that we continue to provide appropriate support
  • We contact the previous school, to gain further information about the child, any support they were receiving their learning and emotional needs
  • We review previous learning and records to gain an understanding about the child’s ability.

5. How does Priory CIW Primary School overcome the challenges Service children may face?

  • We offer support from a trained Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA), who support children across the school with their emotional needs, including Service children
  • A Service children Learning Support Assistant (LSA) Keyworker will support children as needed across the day, as a dedicated liaison/play worker; this has been funded by the Welsh Government grant scheme. The role focuses on all Service children across the school and supports the child/children when the needs arise, or they are identified, with targeted intervention
  • Children can use an activity called ‘check in’ with nominated adults if they need support and this is dedicated time to talk to about how they are feeling
  • With learning, we use the Precision Teaching (PT) as an intervention to help close the gaps in learning. For example, we find that multiplication seems to be a gap in some Service children’s mathematics knowledge; PT enables a short, sharp, practical activity reflecting Singapore mathematics, which is a problem-solving approach to teaching mathematics. The children enjoy seeing their score and watching the graph change and their level of success increase. Discussions take place when a score decreased from the previous day. This intervention is only 15 minutes and happens three days a week. 

6. How will you sustain this support for Service children long term?

  • We have an inclusive approach to all areas of school life for our children and families
  • We will ensure that all staff continue to have training to understand the needs of Service children and their unique circumstances
  • With regular pupil progress meetings with Senior Leaders, we review impact and progress across the school year
  • With regular updates at staff meetings, to share new ideas/interventions from SSCE Cymru Stakeholder days and other strategies
  • We will ensure staff are aware of case studies/videos/research about Service children to remind them of strategies we can use
  • We will continue to identify Service children as a ‘focus’ learning group, so that interventions can occur if required
  • We will continue to provide opportunities for networking across staff, pupils and parents.

7. How does Priory CIW Primary School work with the local community and Armed Forces?

  • We currently have an Armed Forces spouse on the parent/friends committee at school to support events and fundraising
  • Service children’s views and opinions are heard through Pupil Voice events and are represented on the School Council
  • We have a nominated LSA that organises coffee mornings and encourages the school community to attend, including Armed Forces families
  • An Armed Forces veteran serves on the governing body to ensure that Armed Forces personnel have a voice in the governing of the school
  • We encourage representatives of the Armed Forces to be on our school council, parent councils, friends of the school (PTA) and Governing Body to continue engagement with the Armed Forces
  • The school invites parents/representative from the MOD into school so that the children can see/hear the experiences that children have, as well as the sharing about the Armed Forces jobs that they do.
  • We work with the Forces Family Support Officer at Brecon High school to ease transition
  • Priory CIW School is a professional learning pioneer school, developing pedagogical learning alongside the implementation of the new Welsh curriculum, ‘Curriculum for life’. We have developed the learning environment, curriculum delivery and use the ethos of ‘Mantle of the Expert’. We work collaboratively with other schools across Wales sharing good practice.

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."