How to ensure teachers understand Forces children

//How to ensure teachers understand Forces children

Free seminar at Kingston University – March 22nd 2019

Photo credit: Neil Hanna Photography

At Reading Force we support Forces families, and draw wider attention to the special circumstances that are part of their world – but not necessarily understood by others.

Forces families tend to be off the general radar. Although there is an annual reminder on 11th November, for much of the year there are those who live the experience of being in the Forces and those who don’t, and the overlap is not large. Forces people tend to be independent, self-contained, and disinclined to complain. And while there is a very strong tradition of joining the military within some areas and families, for others this applies not at all. This can lead to big gaps in understanding about what the military does and who is involved.

Hence our free seminar at Kingston University on 22nd March which will explain life in the military to trainee teachers. Policy makers and professionals will discuss how to support Forces children as they transition between schools, and how to promote the wider development of resilience. Well managed, a school can learn a lot from Forces families – how to incorporate and manage change, how to get involved, how to meet new people. The seminar will also help trainee teachers understand exciting opportunities open to them to teach in Forces schools, both in the UK and overseas.

Why does this matter? Because it’s helpful for society as a whole to understand Forces families. Forces partners and their children experience ongoing change, as units are posted to new locations and parents are deployed. And if teachers can understand something of their lives, they are in a better position to offer support. Not only will this help them integrate into the new schools and situations in which they find themselves, it will help the wider community understand the benefits of employing military families; the attitudes and capabilities that can make them both effective friends and employees.

Photo credit: Neil Hanna Photography

At Reading Force we usually work through schools with a high number of Forces families, but this tends to reach mainly those with some experience of Forces life. We would like to broaden understanding by embedding an appreciation of the particular needs and values of Forces children within institutions training our teachers.

There is precedent. Within standard teacher training courses such as PGCE, whether for primary or secondary education, students cover the basics of how to recognise a child with special educational needs or learning difficulties. We want the same coverage for Forces children. With an estimated 130,000 Forces children in the UK the numbers surely justify this.

The seminar is free and open to all. We hope it will be a model for wider development within courses of education. If you are involved in the Forces community in any capacity (e.g. as a serving member, a veteran, a relevant charity, a supporter or community encourager) we warmly invite you to attend this seminar. To register please apply here.