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Ysgol Maesydderwen (Powys) – Tailored pastoral support for Service children

Ysgol Maesydderwen (Powys) – Tailored pastoral support for Service children

Ysgol Maesydderwen is situated in the south of Powys on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. The nearest Armed Forces location is Brecon, home of 160th (Welsh) Brigade and headquarters Wales, Dering Lines and Sennybridge training camp. The school has serving families with trickle mobility (a few at a time) and veterans and reservist families. Deployment is mainly through training and military exercises.

Through the Welsh Government funding and a Physical Literacy Project and we have benefited from having a Service Pupil and Family Events Coordinator (SPFEC) at Ysgol Maesydderwen for the last year.

Number of Service children at Ysgol Maesydderwen: 14 (3%)

Case study completed by: Philip Grimes, Headteacher
  1. Service children experiences
  2. Role of the SPFEC
  3. Identification and support
  4. Measuring impact and success
  5. Sustaining practice
  6. Links with the Armed Forces and local community.

 1. What experiences do Service children bring to Ysgol Maesydderwen?

The Service children bring different experiences to the school community in terms of sharing valuable experiences and stories of family achievements, they provide other pupils with an insight into a different world and way of life they may not have known about. We embrace the diverse backgrounds of our children and have created digital stories of those Service children who wanted to share their experiences with others. It has a powerful and positive impact on our school community.

2. What is the role of your Service Pupil and Family Events Coordinator?

  • The member of staff provides one to one and group support for Service children and coordinates a range of activities to impact on their curriculum experiences and pastoral wellbeing
  • They have created resources to disseminate to staff and parents and have created displays to promote visual awareness in the school
  • They promote activities and work with Service children to plan, coordinate and run activities and community events to link to key weeks such as Armed Forces Week, Remembrance and other important events.

Events included


The SPFEC teamed up with our Service pupils and wider school community to design a campaign to tackle food poverty and raise awareness for our veterans who are elderly or vulnerable living in our community. They worked with pupils over a number of sessions to collect food, create hampers and distribute back to the community. We received support from the local food bank who received some of our hampers along with the Red Cross and British Legion who were all contacted to take part in this project that was highly engaging and successful for our pupils.

Meal making sessions

After school 10 Minute Meal Making sessions to promote healthy eating were run by a volunteer veteran parent with our SPFEC who planned the sessions. Attendance at each session was good and a handy 10 Minute Meal Booklet has been created and shared with the wider community.

Armed Forces Week

A stimulating week of activities to raise awareness to the whole school community about our Service community. Pupils designed visual displays and planned cupcakes that were made to sell during the week. Money was raised in support of the Royal British Legion.

3. How does the school identify Service children and support them to overcome any challenges?

On arrival

We survey all parents on arrival at the school and annually to identify any Serving/Reservist/Civilian staff or Veteran Service families and children in the school. We also link closely with our school Transition Coordinator to ask each primary school to make us aware of any children coming in the new intake year.

Support during their time at the school

  • Each pupil has time with their main form tutor to discuss their learning and identify support options through the Year 7 Individual Learning Plans
  • The SPFEC identifies any pupil that requires additional support and produces a plan to support that pupil
  • We have made links with the Barracks Community Development and Engagement team to ensure strong communication in terms of what we do and what events and activities we hold
  • A dedicated email address is available for all Service families and children
  • Opportunities are identified and families are encouraged to participate in events with the local community.

Mental health and wellbeing support

Our school has an excellent pupil wellbeing support team and we use the one to one support to disseminate information. We have a Service pupil representative who feeds back to our main support team to highlight any issues or matters requiring support.

4. How do you measure the impact and success of the support?

Our Service children like all our pupils are monitored in terms of teaching and learning achievements and we evaluate the learning journey of all our pupils to ensure the time they have at the school is successful. When they leave, we want them to be equipped for the world of work or further education. We look at lots of different data from attendance, wellbeing and academic test scores throughout the time they are in school.

We measure success for all our pupils. We want them to achieve their potential and make realistic goals that can be achieved. We want our pupils to have qualifications to meet their needs and aspirations and we want them to be a well-rounded individual able to be an active citizen able to contribute fully in their community. Success is not always about grades, but also other achievements along the journey.

5. How will you sustain this practice and ensure long-term benefits?

We plan to train other staff members to be future Service children support representatives, so we are not reliant on one person. We have a broad team of people who can continue to do the range of activities as previously funded. This way we know it can be sustained and managed into the future.

6. How does Ysgol Maesydderwen work with the Armed Forces and local community?

  • We work with the local British Legion branch, local food banks, community groups in the area and third sector charities on a range of school focused projects
  • We have links with the 160th (Welsh) Brigade in Brecon and the local Cadet groups who have worked with the school
  • We engage with Armed Forces community via events in the school calendar, including Armed Forces Week and Remembrance Day services
  • We have involved the local British Legion and other forces groups in school events
  • We communicate to our Armed Forces families via letters and social media
  • We have good relations in the community, and we have been building upon this over the past few years and will continue to do so into the future.

Produced date: July 2020



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."