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Army&You Winter 2017

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

www.armyandyou.co.uk

CHILDCARE CHALLENGES The impact of Army life on your under-fives

FRIENDLY FORCES Meet the welfare teams supporting Service families

HEALTHY HOUSEHOLDS How you can keep your family fighting fit

MIND THE GAP Why a career break doesn’t have to be a barrier to work

PLUS

School report Winter kitchen Overseas Housing update #OurArmyFamily

JUST THE JOB Why childminding could be the caring career for you

aff

THE MAGAZINE OF escape, THE ARMY FEDERATION A wonderful Welsh an indoorFAMILIES skydiving experience, bright bedding and much more


Dave’s will didn’t just get him through the devastation of losing both legs and an arm in Afghanistan. It also helped him deal with challenges closer to home. He learned to walk again on prosthetic legs in just seven weeks. Underwent ground-breaking surgery. Started a family. And is currently even planning to climb the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper.

Your Will could provide the funding to help support people like Dave and their families when they need it most. By leaving a legacy to ABF The Soldiers’ Charity you can help us give something back to those who have given so much.

Find out more about leaving a gift in your Will. Call Georgia Outteridge on 020 7811 3964 or email goutteridge@soldierscharity.org For Soldiers. For Veterans. For Families. For Life. ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is a registered charity in England and Wales (1146420) and Scotland (039189). Registered as a company limited by guarantee in England and Wales (07974609). Registered Office: Mountbarrow House,12 Elizabeth Street, London SW1W 9RB.


FROM THE EDITOR

Army&You {for everyone with a soldier in their life}

www.armyandyou.co.uk

EDITOR Charlotte Eadie editor@aff.org.uk DEPUTY EDITOR Lisa Youd deped@aff.org.uk // 01264 382314 Army&You, IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ AFF UK CENTRAL OFFICE 01264 382324 // us@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER SOUTH 07824 534345 // regmgrsouth@aff.org.uk

Big focus on little people

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OXFORDSHIRE/M4 CORRIDOR 07787 091883 // oxfordshirem4@aff.org.uk HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803 // hampshire@aff.org.uk WILTSHIRE 07527 492783 // wiltshire@aff.org.uk SOUTH WEST 07787 301826 // southwest@aff.org.uk SOUTH EAST 07974 970696 // southeast@aff.org.uk LONDON 07901 778948 // london@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER CENTRAL 07824 534357 // rmcentral@aff.org.uk NORTH EAST 07557 977141 // northeast@aff.org.uk NORTH WEST 07733 147001 // northwest@aff.org.uk WEST MIDLANDS 07557 977290 // westmids@aff.org.uk EAST MIDLANDS 07587 456280 // eastmids@aff.org.uk EAST ANGLIA 07527 492807 // eastanglia@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER NORTH 07585 333115 // rmnorth@aff.org.uk SCOTLAND 07780 093115 // scotland@aff.org.uk WALES 07527 492868 // wales@aff.org.uk NORTHERN IRELAND 07729 159013 // ni@aff.org.uk AFF OVERSEAS 0044 (0)7795 596568 // rmoverseas@aff.org.uk

KENYA kenya@aff.org.uk BRUNEI brunei@aff.org.uk GERMANY 0049 (0)1525 7435450 // rmgermany@aff.org.uk GUTERSLOH 0049 (0)176 254 85 762 // gutersloh@aff.org.uk PADERBORN 0049 (0)1520 744 9741 // paderborn@aff.org.uk

CHARLOTTE EADIE, EDITOR

CYPRUS (00357) 2596 2289 // rmcyprus@aff.org.uk ESBA esba@aff.org.uk

@ArmyandYou

F

ArmyandYou

© All MOD British Crown Copyright images courtesy of Defence News Imagery CONTRIBUTIONS We love to hear from you. If you’ve got a story to share, email deped@aff.org.uk DISTRIBUTION Are you getting it four times a year? A free copy of Army&You should reach every Army family every season. It’s posted to all UK SFA and sent overseas via BFPO. If you are not receiving a copy, contact your AFF co-ordinator or call the distribution team on 01264 382313 or Andover Mil 2313 Email commsmarketingmanager@aff.org.uk

www.armyandyou.co.uk

K

www.armyandyou.co.uk

@armyandyou

PUBLISHER Army&You is published quarterly by TylerBale Communications on behalf of the Army Families Federation (AFF). Editorial content © AFF (Registered Charity England, Wales 291202 Scotland SC046382). Not to be reproduced without permission from the Editor

COMPETITIONS To enter, click the giveaways link at armyandyou.co.uk One entry per household per giveaway. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Closing date is 7 January 2018 unless otherwise stated. Winners’ names will be published on the A&Y website

ADVERTISEMENTS For information about advertising opportunities in Army&You, contact the team at TylerBale Communications. Email: info@tylerbale.co.uk Tel: 01252 714870 Web: ayads.co.uk

SUBSCRIPTIONS Live in a hiring, your own home or on an isolated patch? Overseas? Parent or friend of a soldier? Army Reservist family? Leaving the Army but want to stay in touch? Find out the latest Army Families Federation news by subscribing to Army&You for free. Visit armyandyou.co.uk for details

WSBA wsba@aff.org.uk YOUR AFF SPECIALISTS HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS ✪ 07552 861983 // additionalneeds@aff.org.uk EDUCATION & CHILDCARE 07527 492869 // ec@aff.org.uk HOUSING 07789 551158 // housing@aff.org.uk FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH fcsupport@aff.org.uk EMPLOYMENT, TRAINING, ALLOWANCES & MONEY ✪ 07799 045955 // etam@aff.org.uk TRANSITION LIAISON ❢ 07967 833630 // transition@aff.org.uk

winter 2017 Army&You 03

CANADA canada@aff.org.uk

Post generously sponsored by the Forces in Mind Trust

EUROPEAN JOINT SUPPORT UNIT ejsu@aff.org.uk

Post generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity;

read about fitness groups, an inspirational weight loss story and discover an exciting winter kitchen. Step back in time with a social media soldier (page 39) and hear how the Military Wives Choirs take to the stage in the build up to Christmas (page 38). As always, there are lots of prizes to win – a stay at a country house hotel in Wales is up for grabs. And finally, if you have a story to tell about your Army life, get in touch by emailing editor@aff.org.uk The Army&You team would like to wish all our readers all the best for the festive season.

NEW posting affects every member of your Army family – even those too young to understand. We look at Army life for underfives (pages 22-23) and the childcare settings there to help ease travelling toddlers’ transition (pages 60-61). There’s big support for little people on our education pages (18-19) as AFF’s Education Specialist explores the support and processes for our under-fives with special educational needs. We meet the families proving that breaks in employment are not necessarily a bad thing (pages 28-29). And learn how your unit welfare officer can help you (pages 58-59). Keep your family fighting fit with our health special (pages 30-33) where you can


Queen Victoria School Raising to Distinction Admissions Deadline 15 Jan each year Queen Victoria School in Dunblane is a co-educational boarding school for the children of UK Armed Forces personnel who are Scottish, or who have served in Scotland or who have been members of a Scottish regiment. The QVS experience encourages and develops well-rounded, confident individuals in an environment of stability and continuity. The main entry point is into Primary 7 and all places are fully funded for tuition and boarding by the Ministry of Defence. Families are welcome to find out more by contacting Admissions on +44 (0) 131 310 2927 to arrange a visit.

Queen Victoria School Dunblane Perthshire FK15 0JY

www.qvs.org.uk


Contents WINTER 2017

insight

10 Distance Working Employers embrace flexible conditions for Service families 26 Industry Support Learn how big business is backing the military 35 Our Army Family Meet MaryAnne and Ed O'Brien and their two children 57 For The Love Of The Game Scrum down with a rugby team based in Germany 60 Toddlers On Their Travels We check on the overseas support offered to under-fives 63 Your Rights Post-Brexit What does the future hold for EU spouses of UK soldiers?

features

18 Big Support For Little Ones Exploring the help on offer for kids with special needs 20 A Caring Career Why childminding can make for excellent employment 22 Under-Fives In Focus How do youngsters adapt to ever-changing Army life? 28 Breaking's Not Bad We discover why career gaps can be a good thing 31 Fighting Fit Find out how the Forces are inspiring healthy families 58 There To Help Meet the welfare officers at the heart of your communities

regulars

06 Our Specialists Find out what AFF’s team have been up to this quarter 09 A Word From... Sara Baade, AFF’s Chief Executive 12 AFF In Action Discover the latest news affecting Army families 56 Book Club Young readers give their verdict on The Tickle Test 70 Giveaways Win a break in Wales, a skydiving experience & more 72 Postbag Got a question about Army life? Get it answered here

ON THE COVER

UNDER-FIVES SUPPORT The Alexander family share their experience of special educational needs support PAGES 18-19 Picture: Imagine Contemporary Portraits

Army&You Winter 2017

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

www.armyandyou.co.uk

CHILDCARE CHALLENGES The impact of Army life on your under-fives

FRIENDLY FORCES Meet the welfare teams supporting Service families

HEALTHY HOUSEHOLDS How you can keep your family fighting fit

MIND THE GAP Why a career break doesn’t have to be a barrier to work

PLUS

School report Winter kitchen Overseas Housing update #OurArmyFamily

JUST THE JOB Why childminding could be the caring career for you

aff

THE MAGAZINE OF escape, THE ARMY FEDERATION A wonderful Welsh an indoorFAMILIES skydiving experience, bright bedding and much more

Forward momentum: Turn to page 30 to discover how gaining a place in a marathon sparked a fitnessbased business opportunity for one Army spouse

www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2017 Army&You 05


LUCY SCOTT EDUCATION & CHILDCARE

KATHERINE HOULSTON FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH

EMPLOYMENT, TRAINING, ALLOWANCES & MONEY

LAURA LEWIN

Thank you to all of you who have been involved in our two recent education surveys. Your experiences in Canada have shown some interesting results that will help families who are due to move there and ensure that you are supported in targeted ways. You can find more details about the results on our website. Our parents’ survey looked at what thoughts and ambitions you have for your children regarding higher and further education. This is linked to AFF’s work with the University of Winchester looking at the progression of Service children. The results will be published by the end of the year.

A recent high-profile case has highlighted the problems that an F&C family can face on a soldier’s discharge if they don’t have valid visas. Without a visa, there’s no chance to rent accommodation or get a job and there’s the constant threat of removal from the UK. With each application for ILR now costing £2,297, this is not easy for a family of four or more. There’s no discount for military families and charities will not pay for visa fees. It’s now more important than ever to save money for visas. Set up a direct debit or, if you need help with budget planning, look at moneyforce.org.uk or contact the RBL benefits and money advice team on 0808 802 8080.

I am concerned that spouses returning to the UK following an overseas posting can face difficulty gaining employment, so smoothing those barriers is a key objective. I have received queries from many of you about needing security clearance for specific jobs you have applied for in the UK. Free ‘good conduct certificates’ can be issued to spouses, but remember to obtain these and any references from your overseas employer before you return to the UK. It’s important that you apply early as it can take up to 40 working days to turn around – this will help ensure that you don’t miss out on any employment opportunities.

My mother-in-law’s Stifado – a spicy casserole

A spicy homemade soup with a slab of cheese on toast

Roast dinner – especially if it has been made by my mum

MK

Car Finance

The UK’s Only Specialist Armed Forces Motor Finance Broker www.mkcarfinance.co.uk 03335 775533 Unique Financial Services South East LTD T/A MK Car Finance, company reg 6376027. The Old Courthouse, 20 Simpson Rd, Fenny Stratford, Milton Keynes, MK2 2DD. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN: 666832 06 Army&You winter 2017

@ArmyandYou

This post is generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers' Charity

We asked our specialists to name their favourite winter food...

AFF'S SPECIALISTS


KAREN ROSS HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS

CAT CALDER HOUSING

KATE McCULLOUGH TRANSITION LIAISON

I have been speaking with the Chief Dental Officer at NHS England about the ongoing issues that families are experiencing with accessing NHS dental care and transferring orthodontic treatment. I have now been provided with some excellent contacts within NHS England. If you are having any issues with accessing dental or orthodontic treatment, please contact me at additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

The Future Accommodation Model (FAM) continues to move forward and develop. I sit on the Army FAM working group to ensure that families’ concerns and needs are represented. As a result of families’ views expressed in AFF’s 2016 FAM survey, some aspects of FAM have been adapted already and we wait to see how the proposed model will look. We will keep you updated on developments, so keep an eye out at aff.org.uk and in Army&You. In the meantime, please contact me at housing@aff.org.uk if you have any queries or concerns.

I continue to work on our tri-Service family transition project and we look forward to sharing our findings in due course. Thank you to everyone who took part in our transition survey – your input is invaluable. The data will be included in wider research and feature in our conversations with the Army, MOD and policy makers to ensure you get the support you need when your soldier leaves the Army. We’ll also be developing our own resources to ensure AFF can be as helpful as possible to families during their soldier’s transition. If you have a question about transition or our research, or a story to share, email transition@aff.org.uk

Thick homemade veggie soup with warm crusty bread and lots of butter

Beef and artichoke stew in the slow cooker

Homemade beef casserole with mashed potatoes and lots of veg

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Army and You Sept.indd 1

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25/09/2017 16:11

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This post is generously sponsored by the Forces in Mind Trust

This post is generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers' Charity

Our team provides families with trusted, expert knowledge and here we find out what they’ve been up to over the last few months. Turn to page three to get in touch.


COURAGE

• INTEGRITY • RESPECT • COMMITMENT • LOYALTY • SELF-DISCIPLINE

Open Morning Saturday 10 March 2018 9am - 12.30pm Located on a beautiful 150-acre site in Dover, Kent, The Duke of York’s Royal Military School is a state boarding school for students aged 11 to 18. We welcome applications from any student who wants to study GCSEs and A Levels at our unique and iconic school with its strong traditions.

Why choose us?

• Unique ethos helps promote

character and life skills, with students encouraged to achieve their potential in a supportive community.

• GCSE results significantly above the national average.

• An active and separate Sixth Form – with opportunities to lead in all aspects of School life.

• A £24.9m building programme

has just been completed to enhance our already impressive school site and facilities.

• Students enjoy an active lifestyle

including sport, music, drama and outdoor activities, with over 70 clubs and activities offered.

• Good transport links to London and Europe.

• If you qualify for CEA, you

will only pay 10% of the fee £433.20 per term* covers ALL the boarding costs.

• Childcare vouchers are accepted.

*Full fee is £4,332 per term

Book your place: 01304 245073 www.doyrms.com/Open-Mornings

www.doyrms.com *Fees are reviewed annually


A WORD FROM

WELCOME

Supportability overseas by Sara Baade, Army Families Federation Chief Executive

O

VER the last few months, AFF has been looking at how families are supported whilst posted overseas. Many of you

contact us because you are unaware of what help is available, or because you feel that the assistance is not meeting your family’s needs.

“An increasing amount of you have contacted us about the lack of support in health, education and housing when overseas. Many of the concerns raised could have been avoided had more information been available to you prior to your posting.”

If we feel confident that our children are supported in school, that we have a suitable home and that our health needs are met, then we have pretty stable ground to face most challenges. However, when one or more of those elements is not working, it is natural to feel let down – especially if you are overseas and away from your family support network.

MAKING AN INFORMED CHOICE

I strongly believe that more information needs to be available at a much earlier stage to give you an opportunity to make an informed choice of which location would be best for you as a family. Support currently varies greatly. I’m delighted that Lt Gen Richard Nugee, Chief of Defence People, recognised this in a recent government meeting.

Your concerns have been heard and the MOD, together with Joint Forces Command, is now looking into this in more depth.

The fact that it’s now recognised as an area that needs It is therefore disappointing to see that an increasing more work is a positive first step. amount of you have contacted us about the lack of We will continue to push for clearer information about support in health, education and housing when what support is available in the different overseas. What is interesting is that many of the overseas postings and will keep you updated concerns raised could have been avoided had with any progress. more information been available to you prior to Contact AFF your posting. @The_AFF

At the moment, most information seems to be available to the soldier via internal Defence communication channels. Much of the information is only accessible once an assignment order has been issued.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or via aff.org.uk

GET IN TOUCH

If you’re experiencing issues with supportability abroad, contact our Regional Manager Overseas Esther Thomas (rmoverseas@aff.org.uk) or Health & Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross (additionalneeds@aff.org.uk). &

winter 2017 Army&You 09


COVENANT

COVENANT SUCCESS

has influenced the way I have dealt with things in the 20 years since my husband and I were married, writes Edith Wilkinson. I expect that being uprooted from my home town in Montpellier in the south of France has made me realise how important it is to be independent and able to function on my own. As a result, a working life has always been an essential part of my identity. My first job was with the European Parliament as a researcher. Despite efforts to keep the job going through

DISTANCE WORKING

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FTER many years of living and working in the UK, I don’t always see being French as my most defining character trait – although, I suppose, it

THE COVENANT & YOU DESPITE 84 per cent of you having heard about the Armed Forces Covenant, almost two thirds of Army households don’t believe it makes a difference to their

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IF YOU HAVE SCHOOLAGED CHILDREN... Schools in England can access £300 of Service Pupil Premium to support your child.

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IF YOU HAVE A MOBILE PHONE... You may be able to suspend your UK contract while overseas.

BUILDING A CAREER When we were posted near Shrivenham a second time around, I contacted Cranfield University for whom I had worked in the past and I was hired again. However, last year we heard the news that our next posting would be in France. At first, I was happy to go back to my homeland, but I also realised how much my job meant to me and that I had built a career in the UK that I was now very reluctant to relinquish.

REMOTE WORKING I initially contacted my line manager to discuss the feasibility of distance working.

family, according to a recent AFF poll. Commander Susie Thomson, from the MOD Covenant team, explained: “The Covenant is more than just an aspiration or a soundbite. Since 2011, it has delivered real, tangible benefits for personnel and their families. “We want you to know that Army families are valued

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IF YOU’VE ACCOMPANIED YOUR SOLDIER OVERSEAS SINCE 1975... Protect your state pension with National Insurance credits.

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long-distance commuting – between Tidworth and Brussels – I eventually gave it up. I resigned myself to the nomadic Army lifestyle for 10 years and took on jobs when and where I could. This was great as it exposed me to many different professional environments and all kinds of people.

IF YOU NEED TO RENT OUT YOUR HOME DUE TO POSTING... You shouldn’t face unfair charges or have to change to a buy-to-let mortgage.

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IF YOU WANT TO GAIN A QUALIFICATION WHILE OVERSEAS... You can access a Student Finance England loan for qualifying UK courses.

IF YOU NEED FLEXIBLE EMPLOYMENT... Some of the 1,900 Covenant signatories have made individual pledges.

One of my friends working at AFF also told me about the Armed Forces Covenant. My application for remote working arrangements could not have been timelier – my employer was keen to demonstrate its support to the Armed Forces community and had signed the Covenant. My application was successful and I shall be able to accompany my husband to an overseas appointment and retain my job. I am hugely relieved and greatly appreciative of what has been a wholly positive outcome. I feel that the new arrangement will benefit both me and the university and I feel valued. Safe in the knowledge that my own aspirations have been recognised and that my desire for a professional life has been taken into account, I now just have the small task of packing up the house and moving to France for a new adventure. Read more about the Armed Forces Covenant at aff.org.uk or visit armedforces covenant.gov.uk &

and recognised for their invaluable contribution to their soldier’s service and that we understand the challenges Service life places upon you. I write as someone who is one half of a dual-serving couple with three children.” Here are ten ways you can make the most of Covenant policies…

IF YOU HAVE A BROADBAND OR MEDIA PACKAGE... You shouldn’t face cancellation fees if posted where there is no service.

IF YOU ARE RETURNING TO THE UK AND SEEKING EMPLOYMENT...

You are exempt from the threemonth residence rule and can apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

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IF YOU OWN A VACANTBUT-FURNISHED SECOND HOME WHILE LIVING IN SFA/SSFA... You are entitled to a 50 per cent reduction in council tax.

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IF YOU OWN A CAR... Keep your no-claims bonus for three years overseas and save on cancellation fees.

AFF’s Covenant&You campaign will help you make sense of the Covenant. Share your stories with AFF by emailing cmeditor@aff.org.uk 10 Army&You winter 2017

@ArmyandYou


AFF in action #AFFwin

#Onetowatch

Claim your discount

Nuisance neighbours

LIVE in Service accommodation in Britain and own a property in England, Scotland or Wales? You can claim a 50 per cent council tax reduction if it’s furnished but vacant except for occasional use by you. We have had an increasing number of enquiries from families who are not receiving this discount from their local authority. Most cases have been successfully challenged with a letter from the Department for Communities and Local Government, which you can download from aff.org.uk If you have any problems, contact housing@aff.org.uk

FOLLOWING enquiries from several families experiencing nuisance neighbours, our Housing Specialist Cat Calder raised the issue with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). “Many of you suggested that a letter from DIO reminding families about their responsibilities under their licence to occupy would help in situations like this,” said Cat. “I have spoken with them and will update you as soon as there is more clarity on the process.” If you’re facing issues, see our online guide (armyandyou.co.uk/dealnuisance-neighbours) which also includes information on what to do if you live next door to civilians.

#AFFteamwork Sharing knowledge AFF’s Army Families Research Symposium will bring together all those undertaking research across the many fields of study around Army families. The event will enable academics and research groups to share findings and ideas to help improve the support you can access through AFF and other organisations. The symposium, which has been funded thanks to a grant from the Forces in Mind Trust, takes place at the Victory Services Club in London on 27 November. Look out for updates on the AFF website (aff.org.uk).

12 Army&You winter 2017

#AFFinvestigates It’s never too early AS ARMY families, we come to accept that our soldiers could be called upon at short notice. That’s Service life. But despite the unknowns one thing is for certain – one day, your soldier will leave the military. That might provide welcome relief if you’re looking for fewer lastminute.com moments, but transition also brings with it a

host of change, most of which can, and should, be planned for well in advance. Resettlement can be complex, especially if your soldier is medically discharged or is leaving for unforeseen circumstances, but the building blocks for a successful transition remain the same and it’s never too early to start putting these in place. AFF is working with the RAF and Naval Families Federations to better

understand the challenges you face when your Service person leaves the military. Through our research we will be in a better position to offer you the right support and to lobby for improved provision elsewhere. If you have a story to tell or need guidance, email Kate McCullough at transition@aff.org.uk The next Army&You will take a look at families heading for civvy street. Look out for it at the end of February.

@ArmyandYou


WALK TO HELP OUR WOUNDED VETERANS

Meet Duncan‌

Served in N.Ireland and Kosovo with Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Struggled with alcohol, depression and became homeless Supported by WWTW back into work in healthcare sales I am looking forward to spending Christmas with my son as I can now afford to give him the Christmas he deserves.

Serve those who served us by planning a walk with friends This December, do a walk to raise money for ex-servicemen and women with physical, mental or social injuries, such as homelessness. Walk home or an inventive alternative, of any distance, with friends or colleagues. Your efforts will ensure our wounded can regain their independence and look forward to next Christmas.

Sign up now and get your Santa hat:

WalkingHomeForChristmas.com whfc@wwtw.org.uk | 01263 863 902 | #WalkingHomeForChristmas Registered charity in England and Wales (1153497) and Scotland (SCO47760)


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News in brief 1 NEW PENSION APP

2 TEN YEARS OF PRESERVATION

3 USEFUL RESOURCE FOR UWOS

4 A FAMILY-FRIENDLY DAY OUT

5 SUCCESS STORY NEARS ITS END

If your soldier is keen to find out how much their Forces pension is worth, then the new pension app is a great way to find out. With handy information available at your fingertips, the app has been developed using a grant from RBL to increase awareness and understanding of the Armed Forces Pension schemes for both serving personnel and veterans. It has been generated as a webpage but, once open on your smartphone, you can click ‘add to home screen’ so that it effectively becomes an app. Go to grablife.moneyforce.org.uk to find out more.

The Army Children Archive (TACA) was established 10 years ago to collect and share information about the history of British Army children, from the 17th century to today. Founder Clare Gibson said: “With the help of contributors, we have gathered personal stories, information and images, covering worldwide postings, accommodation, travel, schooling, healthcare, Army children’s graves and more. Since 2014, the ongoing ‘The Army Children of the First World War’ project has shone a spotlight on the children of the soldiers of the Great War. We are grateful to Army&You for sharing our images and for featuring today’s Army children in the magazine.” Share your Army family’s history at archhistory.co.uk and look out for #ThrowbackThursday at @ArmyandYou

Thanks to a Covenant grant, Reading Force, the shared reading charity for all Service families, has published a brochure full of real-life examples of how it benefits families. The useful document is designed to help welfare workers incorporate Reading Force into their existing support systems. Reading Force gives Service families free books to share and special scrapbooks to fill in together. Families say taking part helps them stay close, especially when separated by deployments and training. Brochures are free for welfare workers. Email info@readingforce. org.uk for more.

Set on the Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea, the National Army Museum (nam.ac.uk) is bright and welcoming. Since its re-opening in May following a three-year, £11.5m revamp, the NAM has been transformed into a vibrant interactive attraction to showcase British military history. Families were at the forefront of the planning and there is something for all ages across five galleries and four floors – and it’s free! Look out for special events for half-term and holidays and sign up for Play Base (£4.50 per child), an immersive experience with a cookhouse, assault course, quartermaster’s store and command liaison vehicle. The café has a great choice of goodies – and plenty of seating areas to recharge the batteries. There’s also an indoor picnic area, if you want to bring your own refreshments.

After almost 50 years informing and entertaining the British Forces based in Germany, Sixth Sense will cease publishing at the end of 2017. The bumper Christmas edition – out on 14 December – will be the last-ever issue of the newspaper, which was launched in 1970. Sixth Sense has frequently published AFF events and lent its support over the years and, on behalf of all at AFF, we wish the team the very best for the future.

14 Army&You winter 2017

@ArmyandYou


NEWS IN BRIEF

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Magic moment: Lucy Smith (9) meeting her dad SSgt Martin Smith, who serves with the 1st Battalion, Scots Guards, off the plane at RAF Akrotiri on his return from a deployment to Iraq

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The AFF team (from left): AFF Paderborn Co-ordinator Tilly Lambert-Lee; AFF Germany Manager Katy Brookfield; AFF Education & Childcare Specialist Lucy Scott; AFF Foreign & Commonwealth Specialist Katherine Houlston; AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder

6 CALENDAR CAPTURES SPECIAL SNAPS

7 AFF TAKES TO THE ROAD

8 YOUR ARMED FORCES COVENANT

9 WALK HOME FOR WOUNDED VETERANS

Military moments between children and their British Armed Forces parents have been brought together in the Little Troopers calendar for 2018. Sales from the calendar will go towards the charity’s support for more than 120,000 children who have a parent serving their country. Founder Louise Fetigan said: “The pictures show many of the emotions experienced by a military family and some very cute babies showing their pride for their mum or dad’s work. “We are lucky to share some special moments with our beneficiary families through these images.” Order your calendar, priced £9.99 plus p&p, from littletroopers.net

AFF’s Germany Roadshow in Paderborn was one of our most successful ever, with families taking the chance to speak directly to the chain of command and experts from all walks of Army life. Brigadier Ian Bell, Commander British Forces Germany, and Brigadier Mike Elviss, Commander 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade, were on our panel, as well as AFF’s Chief Exec, Sara Baade. We had 100 per cent positive feedback from families who said it had been wholly worthwhile to take the time to be there. One family said: “We’re able to go home from the Roadshow with the knowledge that there’s a wealth of people to support us up to drawdown and beyond.” Families also took advantage of one-toones with AFF Specialists with the majority of questions focussed on education, particularly the UK school admissions process, as well as housing and medical issues. We look forward to seeing more families at our next Roadshow, which will be held sooner rather than later, by popular demand – look out for dates at aff.org.uk

Have you faced unfair disadvantage simply because of your military lifestyle? Did a Covenant policy help you get a fair deal? Share your experience of the Armed Forces Covenant with us and help AFF build a picture of the real Covenant in action. We want to hear your story, and what’s more, we want to share it with others to help uncover what the Covenant can truly offer Army families. Whether housing help or school support; pension progress or an understanding employer – tell us via facebook.com/ ArmyFamiliesFederation, email cmeditor@aff. org.uk or you can even tweet us @The_AFF about your success using #CovenantandMe

A military charity is asking people to put their best foot forward this Christmas by taking part in a walk to support wounded ex-Service personnel. Walking With The Wounded’s (WWTW) Walking Home for Christmas appeal, which runs from 8-17 December, invites participants to gather sponsors then stretch their legs over anything from one to 100 miles to support veterans in need. WWTW events manager Andy Sloan explained: “We want people to throw on a Santa hat, call up old friends and raise some funds so that we can support these men and women back into work, back into independence and into a place where they can enjoy Christmas with their families. Signing up to take part in the walk is quick and easy thanks to WWTW’s brand-new website, walkinghomeforchristmas.com  Once enrolled, would-be walkers will receive a charity pack in the post including a branded Santa hat and reflective bag as well as everything needed to plan a walk and get fundraising to support the nation’s wounded ex-Servicemen and women back into independence.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2017 Army&You 15


SPOTLIGHT

PRE-SCHOOL PAGE-TURNER After working with children as an early years educator for more than 15 years, Stacey Turner was inspired to create a book to help settle her eldest daughter into nursery during a difficult transitioning time. She told us more... What inspired you to write the book? I suffered anxiety as a child and also helped my sister through her years of anxiety. Molly, my eldest daughter, also showed signs of separation anxiety from a very young age and when I went to settle her in nursery, our whole world was turned upside down. I created I’m Going to Nursery to help Molly understand that it was OK to feel this way, but that it didn’t need to be like this. We could change the way she thought about being separated from me.

How do you think it could help mobile Army families and those who have their soldier away? By offering families support and reassuring them that it’s OK to

16 Army&You winter 2017

feel the way they do. There’s lots of help and support out there if you feel you need it. I moved around a lot as a child, with my father away for long periods of time for work, and I went to nine different schools. It can be unsettling for the whole family, but the book helps parents and carers nurture and guide this transition confidently.

very soothing. It reinforces your relationship and makes your child feel backed up as you tackle this in a non-direct manner. Feedback has been amazing and I hope it will help as many children as possible. Even a child who doesn’t suffer from a form of anxiety can go through periods of the wobbles, so the book is for everyone.

How does the book work?

What are your plans for the future?

It introduces the concept that nursery really isn’t as scary as it may seem. The book helps break the fear/thought pattern established and when read by the parent or carer, it reinforces that there is no threat. By being able to personalise your very own copy, you can offer a creative approach to facing fears. The act of doing this is

My second book, I’m Going to School, is being released next year, which I am very excited about. I have also written a parents’ guide to be released alongside it. I know all too well how hard it can be! To win a copy of I’m Going to Nursery, turn to page 71. & @ArmyandYou


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TO FIND OUT MORE, VISIT FORD.CO.UK/MILITARYSALES Official fuel consumption figures in mpg (l/100km) for the Ford Focus ST-Line range: urban 33.2-67.3 (8.5-4.2), extra urban 60.1-83.1 (4.7-3.4), combined 46.3 -74.3 (6.1-3.8). Official CO2 emissions 140-99g/km. The mpg figures quoted are sourced from official EU-regulated test results (EU Directive and Regulation 692/2008), are provided for comparability purposes and may not reflect your actual driving experience. *Military Saving programme available to current and ex-Service Personnel. Including veterans and retired members of the UK Armed Forces. Customer savings of 5% to 20% off the Recommended on the Road price available across the Ford range (excluding KA+, Mustang and Focus RS) on vehicles contracted from 1st October 2017 and 31st December 2017 and registered between 1st October 2017 and 30th June 2018. Retail customers only. This promotion cannot be used in conjunction with other manufacturer promotions or incentives. At participating Ford dealers – for terms and conditions, including the eligibility criteria, eligible models and customer savings visit: www.ford.co.uk/militarysales


BIG SUPPORT

FOR LITTLE PEOPLE Living an unpredictable Army life can make keeping a regular and continuous support structure in place for your child tricky. If you add Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) into the mix, it becomes even more complicated. It’s vital that you get the right educational support from the start for your under-fives. Lucy Scott, AFF Education & Childcare Specialist, looks at who can help…

A

FF has seen a significant rise in enquiries regarding SEND over the last year. This could be accounted for by word of mouth – especially as we have set up new additional needs support groups in Aldershot and Tidworth to add to the one in Sandhurst (details at aff.org.uk) – but it may also

18 Army&You winter 2017

be due to a different process of assessment that has been gradually introduced in the last few years. Examples from Army families who have contacted us include: l Trying to find a nursery/ school place in an unknown area that offers the right support.

l Moving from one area of the UK to another and the paperwork not matching. l Difficulty establishing a history of the child’s progress for a thorough assessment when they are unknown to all involved. l Moving from overseas and the local authority not starting the process until the child is in the UK.

@ArmyandYou


EDUCATION & CHILDCARE

Elsa, who has two boys aged eight and five, attends AFF’s Aldershot additional needs support group (second Tuesday of every month, term time). She told Army&You about her family’s experience in the hope that it may help others…

l Linking up previous and new support. Do any of these resonate with you? If so, get in touch by email at ec@aff.org.uk Part of my role is to raise your issues with the relevant people to see if policies need amending, or explaining in more detail. I can also point you in the right direction for the many people and organisations who can offer support. AFF’s aim is to see more co-ordinated and timely support for every Army family in all circumstances. All children learn and develop differently, but if you are beginning to have concerns about your child’s progress, speak to the nursery setting or a health professional. Share your concerns and give examples. Your child’s nursery should be alert to any emerging difficulties and will involve you in any processes

www.armyandyou.co.uk

It’s a far cry from where we are now. Finding a school place for my five-year-old son, even with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, has been problematic. I feel like the council has failed him. I have been constantly making calls, chasing emails, in meetings and proof-reading incomprehensible EHC plans. What helps? Research, research, research. Don’t be afraid to get help. There are a number of organisations and charities available to parents. Turn down a school if it does not feel right – there are ways around it.

and assessments. If you are living somewhere new with a child who has already been assessed for additional needs, it may well feel like you are starting again, but any previous assessment will be helpful in the future. Keep a file of letters and make a note of appointments and what was discussed. A senior health professional once said to me at a conference that life timelines – such as meetings, milestones and events – kept by families about their children are invaluable. You, as a parent, are one of the few people who have known your child all their life.

NEXT STEPS It’s important to contact the MOD’s Children’s Education Advisory Service at DCYPCEAS-Enquiries@mod.uk to discuss and register your child. If you have a child with SEND about to start school next

Is there anything you wished you had known at the beginning? Yes. You would think moving around England from county to county with additional needs children would be the same system, but it’s not. Even with every bit of paperwork you can be told to restart a process. It can feel never-ending. What’s the reality? Every day you are constantly fighting for your children. You are their voice. Has the pre-school helped? I would love to mention every single member of staff. They have been behind my family since day one. The manager and my son’s key worker have been attending meetings, getting outside help, chasing emails and calls. In fact, going out of their way to ensure all paperwork was in line. We cannot praise them enough.

UNDER-5s SEN SUPPORT l A progress check when

your child is two-years-old l A health visitor check for children aged two-to-three l A written assessment in the summer term of your child’s first year of primary school l Making reasonable adjustments for disabled children, such as providing tactile signs. Nurseries, playgroups and childminders registered with Ofsted follow the Early Years Foundation Stage framework. Talk to your nursery’s special needs co-ordinator, or, if your child isn’t at nursery, a doctor, health adviser or childminder can tell you what support is available. If your child requires more help, they may need an Education, Health and Care plan through your local authority.

September, then it’s a good idea to get in touch with the prospective schools. Gayle Wallace, a special educational needs coordinator from Hampshire, said: “All schools will have an SEN information report on their website, which will be linked to the local offer.” Schools will do their best to support your child right from the beginning but it’s useful to understand that funding can take a while to arrive, particularly if you have started the moving process after the January admissions deadline.

FURTHER HELP l aff.org.uk (AFF SEN pages) l specialneedsjungle. com (good flowcharts for EHC plans) l DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@mod.uk l gov.uk (search ‘SEN Code of Practice 0 to 25’. See chapter five for early years) l Contact your local authority l foundationyears.org.uk &

winter 2017 Army&You 19

Picture: Imagine Contemporary Portraits

We moved within England last year with our two boys and there is a vast difference between the counties. We had hiccups along the way where we used to live, but things happened at a faster pace. We had face-to-face contact with everyone involved and there was a lot of positivity from all professionals.


SPOTLIGHT

Case study Stephanie ClarksonKearsley is a newly-registered childminder in Akrotiri. She said: “I didn’t get overwhelmed as Jill was always there to pick up any questions or provide information. “The childminding course was concise and full of useful tips and advice. Jill’s contacts and knowledge were invaluable to me. “The whole application was stress-free and Jill’s support made it a smooth process. She was there every step of the way, making me feel supported and valued.” Stephanie’s husband added: “Jill was helpful and took the time to get to know us. It was nice that she came to our house when it was convenient for Steph – even the childminding course was suited around our childcare.”

A CARING CAREER Childminding can be a great employment opportunity for non-serving partners and spouses as it offers flexible home-working to suit your family’s needs, can be done overseas and allows you to give something back to your community. In Cyprus, Jill Shaw (pictured below) is SSAFA’s childcare co-ordinator and part of her role with early years services includes training members of the military community to become registered childminders. We spoke to Jill to find out more… What is your role? I co-ordinate the registration and inspection of early years and childcare and I’m the initial point of contact for anyone interested in childminding. I meet all new applicants and arrange their mandatory checks and training.

Why would you recommend a career in childminding? It gives you the chance to enjoy a rewarding and responsible career with all the benefits of home-based working. The qualifications are transferable on posting, so you can easily re-register when you move. Ongoing professional development is essential and there are currently childminders in Cyprus working through a range of qualifications.

How do you support spouses/ partners through the application process? Childminding requires family support as your home is about to become the base for a business. I offer practical support and information to ensure you are trained and compliant.

What advice do you offer? Enquires vary from people with little childcare experience to those who

20 Army&You winter 2017

are well qualified and have worked in other settings. You’ll be required to follow the Early Years Foundation Stage and my initial visit helps me understand your needs. Business support officers help with checks and arrange training.

How do you help people transfer their childminding business to Cyprus? If you’re already registered with Ofsted in the UK or BFEYS in Germany, SSAFA can generally accept existing checks and qualifications. We simply fast track the application. I’ll visit you to offer practical advice on setting up and, when that’s complete, arrange for registration and inspection. It’s all very straightforward.

How can people prepare before they arrive? The paediatric first aid training can be done in advance, but you won’t know how you will want to set up your space until you are in your new home. SSAFA aims to complete the application process within six months. Whilst this is going on, you can prepare your property and set up how you will manage the business.

Do you offer ongoing support? You are self-employed, so you’re responsible

for arranging training of your choice. SSAFA recommends PACEY (Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years) as it offers a range of online resources. SSAFA also provides ongoing information and training within the BFC community.

What about training? I can arrange all you need, including: l An introduction to EYFS and setting up a home-based childcare service l Safeguarding children course – levels one and two l Paediatric first aid course. &

USEFUL CONTACTS childmindinguk.com pacey.org.uk ofsted.gov.uk familyandchildcaretrust.org netmums.com

@ArmyandYou


The spirit and heart of this very special community ensures every pupil across all ages and abilities is nurtured to reach their full potential. Excellent academic results and a high standard of facilities.

Forces families receiving CEA pay only 10% of boarding fees as an inclusive package. Scholarships and bursarial awards available.

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admissions@queenscollege.org.uk www.queenscollege.org.uk

ONE COLLEGE – FOUR SCHOOLS Methodist Independent Schools Trust Registered Charity No. 1142794

The Leading Boarding and Day School for Girls aged 4 - 18

Curiosity • Creativity • Challenge Your story starts here...

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Armed Forces personnel pay only 10% of the fees* To register for a place at our Open Morning visit: www.malvernstjames.co.uk/open-morning *This applies to service families entering the School 2017/2018 who are eligible for the Continuity of Education Allowance Additional means-tested bursary support may be offered to families who lose the CEA

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winter 2017 Army&You 21


Happy family: Victoria and Ashley Brice with children William, Katie, Daniel and Sam

Army life for under-fives A new posting affects every member of your Army family – even those too young to understand or have their say. You might expect older children to kick up a fuss about moving house and school but what about under-fives? Jill Misson finds out…

A

CHILDCARE poll conducted by AFF in 2017 revealed that 59 per cent of parents had already used two or more settings for a child under the age of five. “Kiernan started with a childminder in Bergen but when the garrison closed we moved him to a nursery in Paderborn, then we were posted back to the UK where he’s had two more childminders,” recalled Katherine Brim. “I don’t think many nurseries or childminders are fully prepared to deal with a military child,” she added. “There should be greater support for this special group of children.”

“If SPP was extended to our setting we would offer small group nurture sessions with social activities designed to encourage conversation and sharing of worries.” A DfE spokesperson welcomed the proposal but confirmed there are no plans to provide funding for Service children underfive, adding: “The government’s policies for the early years seek to improve outcomes for all children, regardless of background, gender or ethnicity.”

ACCESS TO CHILDCARE Sophie Parry with Ma

UNDER-FIVES FUNDING Targeted funding for the early years is a key issue for AFF. Education & Childcare Specialist Lucy Scott explained: “We believe the Service Pupil Premium (SPP) provided by the Department for Education (DfE) for school-aged children should be extended to include the under-fives to help reduce the impact of Service life on their development and wellbeing.” Victoria Brice had a positive experience

22 Army&You winter 2017

tilda and Jessica

moving her son from a small garrison nursery to a bigger pre-school. She admitted: “Sam has taken it all in his stride but I know from his older siblings how the grief of moving can make it difficult to settle.” Banana Moon Nursery in Catterick cares for many children from Army families and manager Kate Woolley feels they would benefit from additional input. She claimed:

The MOD’s Directorate Children and Young People is developing a new childcare policy. More than £20m of Libor money has been spent on improving the infrastructure of childcare settings on defence establishments and another £3m of funding has been allocated in Libor grants this year. Major Caroline Wade, SO2 welfare, said: “Accessing high-quality, affordable childcare is a priority for all parents – serving or not. It enables employment and plays an important part in the development of children.” Research is being conducted by the @ArmyandYou


FEATURE

NEW LOCATION

Army, exploring the experiences of women returning to work following pregnancy and maternity leave. Sophie Parry and her husband were both serving. She didn’t plan to leave after having their first child, but they couldn’t make it work. She said: “The childcare expenses were ridiculous in London and we don’t have any family nearby to help Pam Davis and family cover irregular hours, weekends and bank holidays.” The Army Families Strategy hopes to address some of these issues and an online children. Whilst we were living there, 7 Army Parents’ Network is being established. Brigade deployed for nine months so I offered flexible hours to allow other mums to go FINDING SOLUTIONS shopping or have a haircut.” The cost of childcare varies greatly between Hannah McCourt is another Army spouse locations and families can consider nurseries, who started a childminding business. She nannies, au pairs and childminders. For some, said: “It fits in so well with the military lifestyle the solution has been to tackle two problems and once you have all the qualifications it is a at once. job you can take with you.” Pam Davis took advantage of free training Hannah signed up to an online study while living in Fallingbostel and became a programme and, after registering with Ofsted, childminder. She said: “It was the only viable was entitled to a government start-up grant option for me to work because I had young of £500. www.armyandyou.co.uk

Before moving to a new posting, it’s worth looking into whether you can find appropriate local childcare. For jobs abroad, AFF’s Regional Manager Overseas Esther Thomas advised: “It is only in the more established locations that there is permanent MOD-managed or vetted childcare. In many locations, parents have to rely on local early years provision, which may be both educationally and culturally different.” [See Money&You, page 41]. In the UK it is still wise to do your homework and to communicate with a new setting. Kate Woolley suggested: “Share photos of new keyworkers with your child and arrange for settling in sessions. Make any additional needs known as early as possible to aid the transfer of information to support any requests for local authority funding.” There is currently no extra money allocated to help childcare providers to support Service children under-five. Lucy Scott hopes for a positive outcome to AFF’s campaign: “We would urge the DfE to remove the age barrier on SPP and to take away any disadvantage in line with the Armed Forces Covenant. We believe in equality of support for all children, irrespective of age.” If you have any questions or concerns regarding early years, contact Lucy at ec@aff.org.uk &

USEFUL CONTACTS Childcare and early years aff.org.uk Help with paying for childcare childcarechoices.gov.uk Find childcare in the UK childcare.co.uk Find a childminder gov.uk/find-registered-childminder Overseas childcare see page three for a list of AFF’s Co-ordinators Family Information Service findyourfis.familyandchildcaretrust.org

winter 2017 Army&You 23


UNLOCKING POTENTIAL Whenever anyone visits Warminster School there’s one thing everyone agrees on, and that’s our sense of community. Visitors always comment on how special it is, how unusual. And it’s not just our teaching staff – from prep pupils to catering staff, our sense of warmth and our values are evident in whoever you cross paths with – be it our groundsmen, matrons, sports coaches or sixth formers. Because we all work together closely to keep those values alive. We embrace all of our pupils – whatever their talents. Working together to create a safe and nurturing environment where our pupils can fulfil their full potential. Please reserve your place online for our 28th April Open Day so you can discover just how special our sense of community is. 01985 210160 admissions@warminsterschool.org.uk www.warminsterschool.org.uk

CHAFYN GROVE Excellent Co-educational Day & Boarding School from 3-13

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Chafyn Grove, Bourne Avenue, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP1 1LR 24 Army&You winter 2017

Fantastic facilities. Inspirational teaching. Outstanding results. 50 acres of idyllic Surrey countryside. Smiles all round. 01252 792495 | www.edgeborough.co.uk | .

@ArmyandYou


School report

Army&You highlights the excellent support that schools worldwide show our military children. This edition, we're heading to Catterick Garrison... How does the school help Service children settle in?

The moment a child walks through the door they will see their name on the welcome board and become part of the school community. We have a flag representing every nationality in the school – currently 21. The role of the parent support adviser is critical in supporting families during any move. We also have hands-on support from the Service pupil champion who rings every family when they arrive to ensure they have everything they require.

ool Name of sch

Le Cateau Community Primary School Location

North Yorkshire Number of s Service pupil

347 out of 466

What practical support do you give Service pupils?

A learning mentor works alongside pupils to help them settle into their new class, allowing them to make friends quickly and get to grips with the new setting. Having a large number of Service pupils and constant movement, all pupils are very good at supporting each other. We have play buddies operating at lunch and play times and an active school council. We also run a MKC Heroes Club.

Are there any military links?

The school is closely linked with the local garrison community and wider networks. The governing body has representation from different units with four serving personnel members, while the garrison commander works with us to ensure there is support. A large number of staff are also part of the military community and understand the challenges that Service pupils face. We have close

links with the garrison church and the Hindu temple, which allows us to share the religious beliefs of a number of our pupils.

Are there any special projects involving Service children?

Each year the military community in North Yorkshire gathers at Ripon Cathedral for the annual Service Pupils Remembrance Service. This takes place around Remembrance Day. We have close links with The Royal British Legion and have been involved in planting Remembrance crosses around the garrison. We also attend the annual Armed Forces Day.

What do the kids say?

Pupil Syke told us: “When I first arrived I was really worried that I wouldn’t fit in. But after a few weeks I had made loads of friends and I’m so glad I moved to this school. The teachers make all of our lessons fun.” Adam added: “I think this is the best school ever, it’s epic. It’s the little things that just make this school great.”

And the parents?

Mum Annie Wilson said: “I cannot thank the staff enough. Both my daughters have been welcomed with open arms and when my daughter, who suffers with anxiety, came home and said ‘I feel like I have been here forever’ I knew I had made the right choice. The school is so open and friendly. The staff are kind and always smiling. It feels like we have always been here!” &

Is your child’s school going that extra mile to support Service children? Would you like your school to feature in the future? Contact Army&You for details by emailing deped@aff.org.uk www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2017 Army&You 25


EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING

Picture: i-Images Picture Agency/Tesco

Friendly force: Tesco is one of a number of big businesses to have worked with Defence Relationship Management to improve its offering to the Service community

INDUSTRY SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES

U

NTIL only a few years ago, the military and organisations such as universities, supermarkets and banks were two worlds apart. Even big, well-known corporates such as Vodafone, BT and Tesco lacked a sound understanding of the Services. In a bid to address this and increase support, Defence Relationship Management (DRM) has been working with employers across every sector to help them understand military life and what it means for Service leavers, Reservists, veterans and spouses.

Take a TRUEview 26 Army&You winter 2017

WORKING WITH AFF AFF’s Employment & Training Specialist, Laura Lewin, works closely with the DRM team to help ensure that the issues faced by spouses and partners are recognised by industry. She said: “We work with DRM to engage with employers and encourage good practice when employing military spouses like offering flexibility, home working, unpaid leave and job transfers.” Jonny Ball, who heads up DRM’s team of account managers, said: “Once employers understand the

A FREE employment support project called TRUEview has been helping to support spouses and partners of serving personnel and veterans in the North East. Regardless of your employment status, you can take flexible courses that work around school hours and can include childcare support and after-hours career coaching. One-toone sessions take place

unique challenges of Service life, they can begin to come up with ways to help tackle them. “Engagement from businesses has been beyond expectation, with more than 1,900 organisations signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant, many of which have pledged to support spousal employment.”

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU? There’s better access to mortgages, loans and housing, fairer phone contracts, opportunities to upskill and find employment and more

in Catterick Garrison and Dishforth. The project has been funded through the Armed Forces Covenant and runs until the end of January 2018. Army spouse Jane Ullyott said: “After 14 years in the same establishment I had to look for something else. My self-esteem at this time was very low and I had little experience in job searching, interview techniques or how to update my CV.

flexible working. Non-serving partners are now firmly on the radar of many organisations. Companies such as Amazon Web Services are extending their new programmes to provide free training and job placements, while others like Manpower offer CV-writing courses to boost your employability.

GET IN TOUCH Has your employer gone out of its way to support you, or have you faced issues? Contact Laura at etam@aff.org.uk If you would like to find out which companies have made strides towards commercial fairness, visit armed forcescovenant.gov.uk &

“Fortunately, through support and guidance from TRUEview, I found the confidence and drive to pursue a new career. I’m delighted that I successfully gained employment from my first interview.” Another Army spouse added: “I hadn’t updated my CV for years and although I’d tried to follow online guidance, getting face-to-face advice really appealed to me.”

The project is a collaboration between Finchale and Barbara Wilson of A & M Consultancy Ltd. You can take part in group sessions, personalised coaching, and courses such as first aid, maths and English. Would you like to take advantage of this offer? Contact Barbara on 07984 478518 to book or find out more information. & @ArmyandYou


LIVING IN A WAR ZONE? If you and your family are stressed or drifting apart, you can end up taking it out on each other. Forcesline is a free, independent helpline, that’s outside of the chain of command for the Armed Forces and their families. So we’ll help you get back on track.

0800 731 4880 Open weekdays, 9am to 5.30pm

Or get in touch online at ssafa.org.uk/forcesline

Registered as a charity in England and Wales Number 210760 in Scotland Number SCO38056 and in Republic of Ireland Number 20006082. Established 1885. S184.0417


MIND THE GAP

ers of Service personnel to rtn pa for g gin en all ch be n ca it While meet the women proving that we p, ga r ree ca a er aft rk wo return to cessarily a bad thing… breaks in employment are not ne

Name: Linda Cassidy Previous career: Soldier Length of career break: Two years Career now: Swim school owner and Army Reservist 28 Army&You winter 2017

“I served for 17 years then fell pregnant aged 33, and with my husband also serving, decided that I would need to leave. “Being suddenly out of the Army and a fulltime mummy was both exciting and scary. I wanted to take part in lots of baby activities, swimming being an important one, but I found it hard to find a class in Germany. “I decided to train to be a baby swim teacher so I felt confident teaching our daughter Lilly myself. “Before I knew it, I’d hired the local pool and was teaching 80 babies and toddlers each week – I loved it! “We moved to Catterick and I managed to secure a pool to set up my own swim school.

“I called it LillyPads after my daughter and I now employ five other instructors. We teach more than 300 swimmers a week, from newborns to adults. “I wish I had sought out guidance when I started – the journey would have been smoother if I’d better understood what’s involved with running a business. “I joined the Army Reserves last year and feel lucky to have two jobs that I love and can balance around my family.” Top tip: Don’t underestimate where the journey can take you. Just go with the flow and you could end up with a new career you never dreamed of. @ArmyandYou


EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING

Name: Collette Musgrave Previous career: Ministry of Defence civil servant Length of career break: Three years Career now: AFF UK & Overseas Director

careers work – with long commutes and even maintaining two homes – but it was unsustainable, so I made the decision to step off the career ladder. “I felt uncertain about what I had to offer after being away from the workplace for three years, but I re-evaluated what I wanted from work and job satisfaction took much higher priority over career aspirations. “The biggest effect of the break was to knock my confidence. I think that’s common, even if you’ve previously had a successful career, but I was lucky to have a supportive husband and friends who kept reminding me that I’d managed to be perfectly competent for the previous 20 years.”

“We were posted to Italy and the Civil Service was not offering career breaks at that time – so I had to weigh up the needs of my husband’s career against mine. It was difficult as we’d worked hard to make both

Top tip: Talk to as many people as you can. I had some very fixed ideas about where I could use my skills. It was only after speaking to others that I was able to see that I had something to offer elsewhere.

“I took time out to have two children and, with my husband moving in between, it wasn’t easy to just go back to work. “I had to follow guidelines from the Health Professional Council, so I enrolled onto a 12-week returnee-to-practice course with Derby University that involved studying and attending a placement at Salisbury Hospital in the spinal unit and orthopaedics. It enabled me to refresh my skills and reregister and now I’m working there. “I have found Salisbury Hospital supportive and I wish that I’d completed this earlier. I was apprehensive because of childcare constraints and my husband’s job but they were flexible with my hours to enable me to complete my returner.” Top tip: Don’t hesitate to refresh your skills. It’s the best thing I have done and my job is

Name: Emma Horseman Previous career: Occupational therapist Length of career break: Ten years Career now: Occupational therapist in acute medical and surgical so rewarding. Seeing a patient regain independence makes my return to work feel worthwhile.

✔ Consider temporary employment – an opportunity to gain confidence and help you to adjust to returning to work.

✔ Highlight the skills you’ve gained as a military partner that are relevant to the role. For example, dealing with the family finances.

✔ Be honest and explain the gaps – perhaps there were times you were not allowed to work in specific countries or you were holding the family home together.

✔ Remember to include any volunteer work – an excellent way to show your commitment.

✔ Refresh your skills – take a course, training or returner programme.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

Gaps in employment could mean gaps in your pension pot. You can catch up on your National Insurance contributions by claiming NI credits if you’re eligible. Visit gov.uk/national-insurance-credits

BRIDGING THE BREAK New initiatives to help people return to work after career breaks have recently been introduced by the government. The returner programmes are formal schemes offered by employers to provide training and support to people who have taken time out of the workplace across the public sector. Men and women returners can apply to programmes for social workers, allied health professionals and civil servants. It’s part of the government’s efforts to support parents and carers returning to work and close the gender pay gap.

RETURNING TO WORK

In the job market? Here are some things to consider... ✔ Create a functional CV rather than a traditional chronological version. This helps employers to focus on your abilities and experience rather than exact dates.

CREDIT CATCH UP

Under the Armed Forces Covenant, many employers have signed up to support Service spouses and partners and there is a much wider understanding of the barriers you can face. If you’re considering returning to work or changing your career path, check out these links: l

nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk

l recruitforspouses.co.uk l workingmums.co.uk l fathersnetwork.org.uk l reed.co.uk

(career gaps) (parents returning to work) l cv-library.co.uk l monster.co.uk

AFF would like to hear from you if you’ve faced problems returning to work after a break. Email Laura at etam@aff.org.uk

UNIVERSAL UPDATE If you’re claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit, you must inform the authorities when you return to work.

winter 2017 Army&You 29


A fitting profession Army spouse Samantha Payne hasn’t always been fit. In fact, she admits that most of her adult life has been spent unfit and overweight, particularly after being pregnant. But with support, Samantha lost six stone – and now she helps other people achieve their fitness goals…

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AMANTHA’S journey to fitness began when, unable to motivate herself into adopting a healthy lifestyle, she signed up for a slimming group. That proved to be the catalyst for a series of active endeavours. “When a friend suggested that we try to complete the Race for Life being held in the garrison, I reluctantly agreed,” she said. “That was a turning point, when I discovered I could do something I never thought possible.” Samantha’s next challenge was to do the 2015 Moonwalk – a power walking marathon – in London. A year later, she completed the 26.2-mile course in just under six hours, so she decided to push her fitness even further “I was offered a place at the Brighton Marathon and, in a moment of madness, I

Samantha (right) at one of her Sennelager boot camps

accepted,” she continued. “Training was hard; I spent hours in the gym or out running. I was lucky to have a supportive family and group of friends around to help with childcare with my husband away a lot. “I discovered a lot about myself – a love of running and weight training, but also, and probably most importantly,

I found a passion for encouraging others. I got lots of friends out running with me and helped to motivate people to use the gym on camp, knowing they found it daunting.”

NEW CAREER When No Duff Boot Camp advertised for new instructors, friends encouraged Samantha to put herself forward. “It seemed the perfect opportunity,” she explained.

“I took over classes in Sennelager and Paderborn in June of this year and have loved every session since. “I work with a fantastic group of people from different backgrounds, all with different abilities. I get huge satisfaction from seeing my clients improving and enjoying the sessions. We have a lot of fun, whilst working hard towards goals.” As ever with Army life, it’s sometimes a struggle for Samantha to juggle family and work, especially when her husband is away. “Clients are welcome to bring their children to sessions and classes run both morning and evenings,” she concluded. “Our boot camps are a valuable asset to the community, not only are they an opportunity to get fit, but also a great chance to meet people and socialise.” Inspired? Go to noduffboot camp.com to find out more. &

Samantha’s boot camp clients on a log run in Paderborn

30 Army&You winter 2017

@ArmyandYou


HEALTH

Healthy options: Many of the initiatives designed to keep British soldiers fighting fit – including a cook book (inset) – are also available to military members’ loved ones

Keep your family fighting fit The Army looks after your soldier’s health and wellbeing – and there are various initiatives which you can support and join in with. Karen Ross, AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist, spoke to Major Tracey Doree, SO2 Health Promotion, to find out what plans are in the pipeline…

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ATING well is one way of keeping healthy, particularly with Christmas around the corner. Tracey’s Healthy Soldier Cook Book, available in PDF format from the Army website’s welfare pages [see right], is a good place to start. “This would be great for Service families too as it includes lots of simple, cheap, multicultural recipes,” she said. Have a look at the ‘healthy soldier toolbox’ on the Army pages and check out useful information sheets from the Defence Nutrition Advisory Service. Tracey and her team will also be supporting soldiers in giving up smoking. A Defencesponsored campaign to encourage personnel to quit will run in January. She added: “Evidence suggests that if your soldier signs up, they’ll be more successful if other family members quit too, www.armyandyou.co.uk

so why not join in?” More information can be found on the NHS website.

FAMILY FITNESS If you’re generally trying to get fitter, many garrisons have gyms, swimming pools and access to fitness sessions, not just for soldiers but for family members too. Ask at your local HIVE or welfare

office whether facilities are available in your area – many of them are free. If high impact exercise is not your cup of tea, check out your local community noticeboard. Whether you’re on a military patch or in your own home, see if there are any walking or exercise groups you can join – or maybe start one up.

Yo ur healthy year January: Dry January 11-17 Jan: National Obesity Week Febru ary: World Cancer Day 8 March: National No Smoking Day 7 April: World Health Day May: National Walking Month 8-14 May: Mental Health Awareness Week October: Stop tober

HEALTH FAIRS Army units hold annual fairs to promote health and wellbeing policies – and some events are open to families. There’s lots of information on hand and advice on practical activities and local health resources.

FESTIVE FARE At this time of year, we often eat, drink and be merry, but if you want to keep an eye on your alcohol consumption, there are some useful apps to help, such as Drinkaware and Public Health England’s One You drinks tracker. If you feel that you’ve overindulged, don’t forget that ‘dry January’ is just around the corner! If you have any health and wellbeing questions, contact me by email at additional needs@aff.org.uk &

USEFUL LINKS Army welfare & HIVEs Via ‘welfare & support’ at army.mod.uk Drinkaware drinkaware.co.uk Alcohol tracker nhs.uk/oneyou Getting started guides nhs.uk/livewell Dry January alcoholconcern.org. uk/dry-january Dryathlon cancer researchuk.org British Heart Foundation bhf.org.uk/ heart-health

winter 2017 Army&You 31


Winter kitchen Army wife AJ Sharp, an associate member of the Guild of Fine Food and Great Taste Awards judge, recommends products and trends to get you through the winter months…

EAT NATURAL VICKI Stewart, an Army spouse based in Wiltshire, runs a food foraging course for families. “Food foraging is not just trendy, it shows what healthy foods are available in the simplest settings – like on a family dog walk,” said Vicki. “We teach identification and sustainable foraging. If we overeat the same foods we can deplete environmental and our own resources. “In spring, we harvest nettles for tea and fritters and make wild garlic pesto with pasta made from foraged cobnuts. Elderflower cordial, jams, fruit fillings and pies are other forageable foods. “We teach our students how to make a campfire and the course culminates in a bake off between the adults, which can get very competitive! I believe that healthy eating is more than just weight loss, it’s about making [it] a part of life.”

Instant immunity boost NOW is the time to dust off the car-scraper and find the bobble hats as winter has arrived – in the UK at least. But how can you eat well at this time of year? Eating protein at every meal can support a healthy immune system, but you have to eat the right protein. Red meat is ok as an occasional treat, but try to swap in healthier proteins like eggs, yogurt, beans, nuts and fish. Use the size of your palm to judge the right quantity.

SUPER SUBSTITUTES Who manages to eat five-a-

day every day? It’s not easy when most of us feel more like eating chips than salad. Try introducing some sweet potatoes once in a while; cut them into wedges and roast in a little oil and seasoning. They are a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals and taste (nearly) as good as chips. If you can’t find the time, visit Aldi where you’ll find a packet of sweet potato fries prepared for you in the frozen food aisle. The freezer is a great place to shop for a whole array of fruits for making smoothies and crumbles and keeping that five-a-day tally up.

Many people think frozen fruit and vegetables are not as good as fresh, but it’s not true. Not only is frozen cost-effective, but it can be equally as nutritious, especially in winter when some produce will have travelled a long way before it reaches supermarket shelves.

JUNK RULES As ever, keep drinking as much water as possible and steer clear of junk food. A good – but gross – rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t start to grow mould after a week or two in the open air, you really shouldn’t eat it.

For more, visit brightwoodtraining.com

HEALTHY SWAPS

OUT: Calorie-filled coffees IN: Green tea

OUT: Chocolate and crisps IN: Nut butter on toast

OUT: Fizzy drinks IN: Milkshakes

If you’re feeling sun-starved this winter, there are now brands offering green tea enriched with vitamin D. If you’re not a fan of the taste, find a tea flavoured with citrus or other fruits.

Nut butter is a delicious and low-sugar source of protein. Usually made entirely from natural ingredients, it offers a good source of calcium and vitamin E. Spread it on toast or use it in baking.

When you need a pick-me-up, consider a milkshake which can be a good source of protein, calcium and immunity-boosting vitamin B12. Look out for brands that are low in fat and sugar.

Why not try: Tetley Super Green Tea Sunshine

Why not try: Meridian Almond Nut Butter

Why not try: Shaken Udder milkshakes

32 Army&You winter 2017

@ArmyandYou


HEALTH

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS Despite its proximity to Newcastle upon Tyne, Albemarle Barracks in Northumberland – home to 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery – is in a very rural location with limited transport links. So when members of the local community teamed up with the regimental PTIs to set up a new fitness group, there were no shortage of families signing up. The twice-weekly exercise class is suitable for all abilities and is fun, sociable and free of charge. It runs in the evenings so it’s easier for spouses and partners to attend, and the focus changes every week so there is always something new to learn.

Get buggy-fit on base When Sarah Pearce’s soldier husband Charlie was posted to Canada, she decided it was time to leave the Royal Navy so their son William could have more stability. As well as being a Maritime Reservist, Sarah (pictured above) now runs her own business as a fitness instructor… What inspired you to start your business? During my maternity leave I qualified as a personal trainer and took additional courses in pre- and postnatal fitness which I am passionate about – it was a journey I was experiencing myself at that stage. I also wanted a job that would work around our family life and move with us. Now, I teach buggy-based postnatal exercise classes for the military community here at the Canadian Forces Base.

How have you managed to juggle running a business with Army life? When Charlie is away it can be a juggling act with an energetic two-year-old at home. I often find myself trying to work during William’s nap times and once he is in bed in the evenings.

Image: Mothercare

What were the challenges to getting started overseas? We are the only UK exchange family in this province – the British Defence liaison staff in Ottawa are a 10hour drive away. The lack of local UK support or family network www.armyandyou.co.uk

has proved challenging at times – especially when I am working and Charlie is away. I also had to do additional research to ensure that I am compliant with Canadian regulations.

How do your clients benefit? I wanted to create a class where new mums could have time for themselves whilst also providing some fun for baby too. The main benefits include increasing confidence and health as well as beginning to safely and slowly lose a little baby weight should people wish to. My current clients are all Canadian military spouses or serving military personnel. Being a new parent can be isolating and military life – often in unknown communities without family support – can make it hard to meet new people so it’s refreshing to see the number of new friendships that are formed at our classes.

MUTUAL MOTIVATION Helen Gent, who helped establish the group, said: “It gives people a regular commitment that’s just for them. We have a Facebook group where everyone swaps workout tips, diet advice and helps with motivation. “The PTIs are also on the page and often offer encouragement. We’re happy for people to bring their children too, so if a soldier is away, there’s no need to miss out.” The class has been incredibly popular since it started a few months ago. The majority of participants live in SFA ‘inside the wire’ at Albemarle but, as word has spread, participants come into camp especially for the sessions. HOW TO GET STARTED Helen’s advice to other families interested in setting one up is to just ‘go for it’. “Speak to your PTI department to see if they can put on a class,” she advised. “Use social media to spread the word and vary the sessions so that they will appeal to everyone.”

What are your future plans? It works well for our family at the moment. Once we get our next assignment, I’ll look for opportunities for new classes. & winter 2017 Army&You 33


34 Army&You winter 2017

@ArmyandYou


EXCLUSIVE

#OurArmyFamily Whether married or single, parent, partner, cousin or child of a soldier, we want you to tell us all about your Army family. Follow #OurArmyFamily on Twitter and Instagram for more stories

MaryAnne O’Brien, serving husband Ed and children Ophelia (9) and Angus (7) tell us about their Army life… GET INVOLVED

Do you and your loved ones want to share what makes up your #OurArmyFamily? Send your details to editor@aff.org.uk

www.armyandyou.co.uk

We met at a mess party in Germany in 2002 and got married in 2005. We are currently living in a quarter in Wiltshire and have done three overseas and three UK postings since having children, which has meant a lot of moving. I feel it doesn’t matter where in the world you are – as long as you have a good group of mates (with wine and tea) everything will be okay! As a family we have struggled at times with being a long way from family – in Canada,

Alabama and Germany – however, the huge plus is that we have seen and done some truly amazing things. The hardest part for the children has been the impact that moving has had on their early education. Ophelia had been in nine schools in four different countries by the time she was eight. She is now at boarding school and loving it and Angus can’t wait to join her. Giving up my career has been tough, but

I’ve recently returned to work as a chartered surveyor after a tenyear career break and I’m really enjoying it. With Ed deployed, the logistics can be complicated but the company has been so supportive and I’m working flexible hours, which means I can still do the school run. Where we currently live there is not much of a patch life, but this is fine as we came here from two exhausting but funfilled years in Germany. We have found that most

of Germany has been relocated to Wiltshire so we have no shortage of friends! Our advice to any new Army family is to do what is right for you. Some people choose to go abroad; others weekly commute. Some accompany their soldier on every posting; others send their children to boarding school. Some buy their own house, while others choose to live in quarters – one family’s choice will not necessarily be right for another. &

winter 2017 Army&You 35


YOUNG GENERATION

‘Hot chocolate, rain & wet socks: how I built my confidence’ Charlie Bell (15), who lives with his family in Catterick Garrison, shares his experience attending the 19day Skills for Life Award residential course at The Outward Bound Trust’s Aberdovey Centre...

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FEW years ago I attended a weeklong Outward Bound residential at Ullswater in Cumbria, which I really enjoyed, writes Charlie. So, I applied again and I was excited to gain a place at Aberdovey. Through the Annington Challenge, young people like me from a Service family, get sponsored (up to 90 per cent of costs) to attend Outward Bound adventure courses, giving those of us from military communities the chance to benefit. I wasn’t too anxious before going, because I knew from my previous experience that there would be people in the same situation. You meet others from a lot of different backgrounds and the instructors help you to mix and get to know each other.

WORKING TOGETHER This adventure was the most

challenging – but I really enjoyed it. We were based on the west coast of Wales which has beautiful mountains and rivers, but the weather was pretty mixed. You are put into teams and then into smaller groups called ‘pods’. We learnt to rely on each other and blend different skills for different challenges. We went on two expeditions. One was four days without the instructors, which sounds scary but we were well prepared and could always get hold of an instructor if we needed them. The point is to learn things like teamwork and self-management in a wilderness environment. It was tough as the weather was bad, but we used the maps and compasses to find our way without the help of our instructor – who was following closely behind. We were the first pod to reach town, which was brilliant.

“It helped me think about my goals and put things into perspective. It’s not just physical – you learn about yourself.”

REACHING THE SUMMIT The other expedition involved canoeing, walking and setting up our tents in awful weather. I thought it was going to be a total failure, but by the end of the second day, we had walked over two summits and we ended up toasting marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate around the campfire. That was cool. You also have a lot of one-toone time with your instructor, putting together an action plan for after the course. It helped me think about

my goals and put things into perspective. It’s not just physical – you learn about yourself. There’s an award ceremony at the end and we had a dance-off in the evening. I would definitely recommend it – the instructors are the best, you make friends from all over the world and you gain skills and confidence. But if you’re going, take plenty of socks – you’ll get your feet wet!” Apply for a 2018 place at outwardbound.org.uk/ anningtontrust &

The Annington Challenge is open to Armed Forces children aged 13-19, regardless of background. Applicants need the support of their school or college. The Annington Challenge is an initiative run by The Annington Trust which is committed to helping families living within Service community. For more details, visit anningtontrust.org

36 Army&You winter 2017

@ArmyandYou


PROTECT YOUR FAMILY’S FUTURE FOR FREE Introducing The Royal British Legion’s FREE Will Writing service Keeping an up-to-date Will is the only way to take care of your family if you’re no longer there. It is The Royal British Legion’s pleasure to help members of the Service community do this by offering you a FREE Will Writing service. You do not have to include the Legion in your Will to use this service but if you do decide to leave a legacy to the Legion you’ll be playing a crucial role in protecting those in need within the Armed Forces community. Even a small portion of your Estate could help us provide everything from home adaptations for an injured veteran like Mark Stonelake to specialist dementia care in one of our award-winning Legion Care Homes. Once you have provided for your loved ones, please consider helping us to be there for members of the Armed Forces family who need us.

Find out more or request a copy of our Will Guide at www.rbl.org.uk/freewills Contact the Legion’s legacy manager at freewills@britishlegion.org.uk or call 020 3207 2253

“It’s a huge comfort to know the Legion’s support will never stop.” Mark Stonelake, who lost his left leg following an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) explosion in Afghanistan.

Choose from up to six independent family solicitors based in your area.


Big stage: Military Wives Choirs put on a spectacular show at Lichfield Cathedral

Performing in public The Military Wives Choirs bring women in the military community together to sing, share and support one another. The 74 choirs which make up the network are based at British military camps in the UK and abroad, meeting for weekly rehearsals full of song, laughter and cake. We find out what it’s like to take to the stage…

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NE of the unique benefits of being part of a Military Wives Choir is the opportunity to perform at public events in stunning venues. Particularly at this time of year, calendars can be busy with choirs in demand to help spread Christmas cheer. With no auditions or experience necessary to join, the thought of performing in public could feel daunting – but no event is obligatory and ladies

38 Army&You winter 2017

often surprise themselves with what they can achieve. “The last thing we want to do is set an expectation that all members must be prepared to sing in public,” said Lilian from Chilwell MWC. “What we’ve found is that even our most shy and reserved members slowly build confidence and start to blossom in ways they might not have expected. “It’s testimony to how supportive and

encouraging the choir is that ladies want to try things that push them outside their comfort zone.” Military Wives Choirs believes that ladies can feel stronger together – and this shines through when it’s time to perform. “The best thing about being involved in a high-profile concert is the feeling that I’m a small part of something special,” explained Emily from Tidworth MWC. “At last year’s Home for Christmas tour, we performed at the beautiful Winchester Cathedral, singing alongside other choirs. Whilst you might think there would be choir rivalry, there wasn’t – all the ladies were rooting for each other in solidarity all night, leaving us buzzing.” Arguably the ultimate performance came last year when they got the chance to be part of a network-wide album as choirs from the UK and abroad were brought together to record Home for Christmas. Sarah, from South London MWC, described it as a ‘wonderful experience’, adding: “The sound produced gave me goosebumps and with such great direction from the musical director, it was insightful, fun and an amazing thing to be part of. “My children couldn’t understand how mummy was singing on a CD!” As Alice from Middle Wallop MWC told us, it’s not all about public performances and making albums. “It’s so worthwhile plucking up the courage to join a MWC as you meet other ladies in a similar position who are welcoming and supportive,” she concluded. “They make me laugh, the singing is a tonic and I always come away from choir feeling happier – just give it a go.” See the Military Wives Choirs performing across the UK on the Home for Christmas Cathedral Tour [see below], purchase the Home for Christmas album or find out how to join a choir at militarywiveschoirs. org or call 0207 463 9407. &

See the Military Wives Choir perform in the run-up to Christmas at the following venues: November: 22: Worcester Cathedral

December: 2: St Clement Danes Church, London

23: Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff

3: Truro Cathedral

24: Wells Cathedral

7: Sheffield Cathedral

25: Lichfield Cathedral

9: Peterborough Cathedral

28: Southwell Minster

16: St Michael’s Tidworth Garrison Church

29: Ely Cathedral

18: Guildford Cathedral Visit Ticketmaster for availability and tickets

@ArmyandYou


YOUR FAMILY

YOUNG ONES Nurturing under-fives is an important part of our Service communities. We look at a couple of local initiatives bringing younger children together…

Tale team: Nikky Pye (left), administrator Diz Majores (centre) and David Noble, heritage owner of the project (right)

Social media soldier WW1 Soldier’s Tale, a not-for-profit online project created to tell the story of the First World War as if it was in today’s digital age, follows the life of the fictional – but meticulouslyresearched – Walter Carter. We spoke to writer and researcher Nikky Pye to find out more… Where did the idea come from?

The project is run in partnership with David Noble Associates, The Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association for Greater London and Wandsworth Council

From a single sentence! Back in 2013, the team was discussing the upcoming centenary of the First World War and one of my colleagues happened to say: “I wonder what it would have been like if Facebook had been around back then.” This sparked the idea of documenting the life of a soldier and his friends and family through social media.

How important is it to commemorate these events in the digital era? The centenary is an opportunity to chronicle the war in real time and the ability to do this digitally means we can share links, footage, images and articles as well as the posts themselves. It’s important that what happened 100 years ago is part of what people are reading and that it’s accessible to all.

Who is it aimed at? Everyone – but we’ve been delighted to see that www.armyandyou.co.uk

13-to-24-year-olds form our largest group of followers. We want to engage people with the day-to-day reality of the war rather than only focusing on commemorative events. It’s also important to provide a range of viewpoints, from Walter’s nurse sister, to his mum on the home front and his friend in the Indian Army.

How much research have you had to do? This project has taken over our lives for the past four years! I work about five months in advance of when the posts go out – reading newspapers, battalion war diaries and regimental histories from the time alongside contemporary letters and diaries. Everything I write is then checked by a team of historians to make sure I’ve got military details as well as tone of voice correct.

How do you come up with the material for each post? Walter’s story follows

that of a real battalion, so around that I add personal details that I’ve discovered in letters or diaries which help to flesh out our characters’ experiences. The newspapers also provide good story ideas. For example, if I find an advert on the front page for Turtle Extract Soup, I’ll have Walter’s mum try out the recipe at home.

What’s the response been like? Better than we ever could have expected. It’s great to see people of all ages and backgrounds engaging with Walter and his friends. A follower on Facebook commented: “I am constantly learning despite being someone who looked into this time.” That made us all very happy. &

“CHAPLAINCY values every member of the community,” said Sandhurst’s Defence Academy chaplaincy family worker Emily Young. “For me that includes lots of work with young children.” Running free events such as a twicemonthly messy church for families, Emily makes sure there are stories and activities which even the youngest can relate to. Matilda, who attends with her younger siblings, said: “What I like about messy church is that the activities are the best and all my friends are there.” David Betts has a similar role to Emily in Aldershot Garrison. “I enjoy visiting the little ones and telling them simple stories – I get them involved through actions and songs. They often come up to me when I’m in the garrison and ask for their favourite story,” he said. Clocktower pre-school manager Nikki added: “The children love having ‘Mr Betts’ come in and tell stories. For some children, Fridays with Mr Betts is the highlight of their week. David is a great friend to our setting.” Some of these contacts lead to parents coming along to chaplaincy-run parent and child sessions. Being that bridge to other networks of support is a key part of the role for Emily and David, who are employed by the Methodist Forces Board (MFB). Their activity supports the padres in their care of serving personnel and their families. The MFB is working with the padre to bring Messy Church to Weeton Barracks, near Blackpool. Does faith play an important part in your community? If you have a story to share, let us know at deped@aff.org.uk

Find out more The project has now amassed more than 26,000 followers. Follow it at ww1soldierstale.co.uk or search for it on Facebook and Twitter. winter 2017 Army&You 39


for e v i s u l c x E

nel n o s r e P s rce Armed Fo

Have a bright start to your 2018 Take back control of your finances by joining LMCU We give you the unique opportunity to save and repay a loan directly from your salary, making it easy for you to do your banking. With loans of up to ÂŁ15,000 we are supporting the Armed Forces community to help make your dreams become a reality.

www.creditunion.co.uk


MONEY

Kiddie costs Help with budgeting for your childcare needs

new applicants from April 2018 when The childcare voucher scheme is due to close to prefer to remain on the existing scheme, it will be replaced by tax-free childcare. If you h scheme is best for your family? you’ll need to register before it’s too late. So whic

CHILDCARE VOUCHERS

TAX-FREE CHILDCARE WHO IS ELIGIBLE? Anyone can apply – employed and self-employed , £120/week minimum earnings (16 hours/week). If a couple both parents must work Child’s maximum age 11 (16 if disabled) Maximum income limit – less than £100,000 per parent

Only available if employer offers them No minimum earnings – one parent needs to work Child’s maximum age 15 (16 if disabled) No income limit

WHAT TO CONSIDER IF ELIGIBLE FOR BOTH SCHEMES? Max gain of £2,000 per child (£4,000 if disabled)

20 per cent off childcare costs

Best option for more children and higher childcare cost

er) Max gain of £930/year per parent (basic-rate taxpay er) taxpay -rate £624/year per parent (higher £590/year per parent (top-rate taxpayer) per No tax & NI to pay on childcare costs, equivalent to 32 per 47 rate, highercent per (42 er taxpay ate basic-r for cent cent top rate) Best option for fewer children and lower childcare cost

Source: HMRC, HM Treasury, moneysavingexpert.com

WHAT IS MORE SUITABLE? Self-employed people or couples who earn less than re £100,000 each, as they’re eligible for tax-free childca ers vouch re but can’t get childca

Parents with more than one child and high childcare of costs, as the help available goes up with the number isn’t which rs vouche re childca children. There’s a limit for dependent on the number of children.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

not Couples where one parent doesn’t work, as they’re is parent yed emplo the but re, eligible for tax-free childca e) schem a offers yer emplo their (if rs vouche for eligible or Basic-rate taxpayer parents with childcare costs of £9,336 re less. Under this amount, the saving you make with childca re vouchers exceeds the saving made with tax-free childca of costs Higher-rate taxpayer parents with total childcare make you saving the t, £6,252 or less. Under this amoun with childcare vouchers exceeds the saving you can make with tax-free childcare Higher earners, as anyone earning £100,000 or more (or in a couple where one earns £100,000 or more) isn’t get eligible for the scheme, whereas these high earners can rs. vouche re childca

FREE CHILDCARE MIRRORED OVERSEAS

D

ID YOU know that if you’re posted overseas, you could still qualify for the 30 hours of free childcare introduced by the government across England in September? While 15-hours-perweek of free childcare for three- and fouryear-olds was already offered to families in MOD-provided settings, an additional 15 hours is now available where both parents, or the sole parent in a lone parent family, are working. In overseas locations where there’s no MOD setting, or there’s not enough capacity, you may be able to claim the Overseas Nursery Allowance for alternative childcare providers, but free childcare cannot be claimed when using childminders or nannies. If you’re a non-serving partner working abroad, you’ll have to provide confirmation of your tax arrangements or proof you’re employed locally. Visit the AFF website (aff.org.uk) to see the full eligibility criteria or email the MOD’s Directorate Children and Young People for more information at DCYPDCYP-Mailbox@mod.uk winter 2017 Army&You 41


HOUSING ADVERTORIAL

A home of their own Army couple Oliver and Melissa Tuite explain how assistance schemes – including one from a well-known developer – turned their house-buying dreams into reality

S

ERVING in the Armed Forces comes with a unique set of challenges. The work is demanding, long periods are spent away from home and these pressures can make buying a house that bit more daunting. For Service couple Oliver and Melissa Tuite, however, the process has been made that bit simpler – and more affordable – thanks to Bovis Homes’ new All Inclusive Armed Forces Discount. Oliver, a staff sergeant in Stafford-based 1 Signal Regiment, and wife Melissa, a dental nurse

in nearby Stoke, had been looking for a new home in the area for around a year. Oliver explained: “Due to the nature of my job, things like applying for a mortgage and viewing potential new homes were a challenge – there’s certain things we can only do together, but I am often away with work or unable to take time off. “Having been posted overseas within the last three years as well, we found it difficult to get the same good mortgage rates offered to others outside the Forces.” When Oliver and Melissa visited Bovis Homes’ St James’ Park location in Stafford, they were introduced to the company’s discount scheme, which provides a cash concession on the price of a Bovis home to serving members of the Armed Forces, as well as a package of extras

(including carpets, curtains, and integrated appliances) and help towards legal fees. When combined with the Forces Help to Buy and Government Help to Buy equity schemes, it forms what Bovis Homes calls ‘Trinity’ – a comprehensive purchase assistance scheme giving Service personnel access to a lower deposit and better mortgage rates. “When we visited the sales office at St George’s Park, we were taken through the discount scheme and how it could work for us,” said Melissa. “It was simply explained and easy to understand. We knew then that the full Trinity package was the perfect option for us – we wouldn’t have been able to afford our new home without it.” After realising that the Trinity scheme would be an ideal route onto the property ladder, the Tuites reserved a three-bedroom Stretton townhouse for them and their two children, Kevin (17) and ten-year old Amy. Having lived in a new build

home provided by the military, the family were well aware of the advantages. “We like the thought of having an influence on what kitchen, tiles and floors will be put in,” added Oliver. “Plus the thought of being the first people in the house which, after living in military quarters for more than 10 years, is really appealing – it’s truly ours.” The Tuites will move into their new home in the spring and are excited to start their time in their forever home. Melissa said: “We’d like to say a massive thank you to Bovis Homes for making our future in a beautiful new home possible. “I’d strongly recommend the All Inclusive Discount and Trinity scheme to anyone in the Forces looking to buy a new home.” For more information on Bovis Homes’ All Inclusive Armed Forces Discount scheme and Trinity purchase assistance package, go to bovishomes. co.uk/information-on/schemesfor-the-armed-forces n @ArmyandYou


YOUR HOME SURPLUS SFA: A WELCOME RETURN

EARNING THEIR KEEP

D

EFENCE Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has started a long-term project to sub-let empty SFA to the private market, mainly on short-term six-monthly lets. Empty SFA don’t generate any income but still need to be maintained, so this is a good way for them to ‘earn their keep’. An initial 2,300 homes could be made available under these arrangements and around 70 sites across the UK have been identified including: Arborfield, Biggin Hill, Canterbury, Lyneham, Leuchars, Inverness, Warminster, Wittering, Lisburn, Aldershot, Woodbridge and Bordon. These void sites will be released on a rolling programme.

PRIORITY FOR SERVICE FAMILIES All the planning has been designed to ensure that families are not affected. DIO: l Has chosen sites where there is adequate surplus

accommodation l Plans where possible to release houses in groups so they can be managed more effectively l Will consult with commanders to understand any local issues, including security l Aims to ensure that Service families are not disadvantaged and are kept informed. In addition, every potential private tenant will be subject to credit and reference checks. Properties will not be improved, but will be prepared and checked for maintenance and safety prior to occupation. Investment for improving SFA will continue to be targeted at homes occupied by Service families and all revenue will go to DIO as part of its overall running and investment into the estate.

PATCH LIFE AFF knows that some Service families would prefer to live

with other military families so they can retain the support of patch life. We have been assured by DIO that any families living among houses selected for the scheme will be offered a move to a ‘military’ area. Removals will be paid for if you’re on a normal licence to occupy but not if you’re on a surplus licence. Disturbance Expense for entitled families is a matter for the local chain of command to decide, but DIO will underwrite disturbance costs on request. We have also been assured that there is no time restriction on when you can decide to move. Remember, entitled and eligible Service personnel continue to take priority for SFA and should apply for accommodation as normal. If you have any queries regarding PRS, contact AFF Housing Specialist, Cat Calder, housing@aff.org.uk &

SURPLUS Service Families Accommodation (SFA) used to be an endangered beast in military housing, but it is making a welcome return as a result of rebasing and ongoing changes to the defence estate. Some of the surplus is being earmarked for inclusion into the Private Rental Scheme, but Service personnel who are eligible for SFA but not entitled – such as divorced soldiers with children – are also able to apply for them. AFF is aware that serving parents who are divorced but don’t have sole custody can find it difficult to source suitable accommodation when their children come to stay. “We hope that accessing these surplus SFA will help many of you to improve your family stability,” said AFF’s Housing Specialist, Cat Calder. “Although please be aware that the type and size of SFA included may be restricted.” To apply for a surplus SFA, contact CarillionAmey Occupancy Services on 0800 707 6000 option three to check if any are available in your required area, then apply via the e1132 on DII.

HOUSING ENTITLEMENT – THE RULES UNDER current policy, your children will only be counted as entitled family members for housing allocation if you or your partner has sole custody – so what does this mean in reality? If you’re serving and divorced and have sole custody of any children you will be entitled to an SFA for you and those children. To have sole custody means that you are considered the prime carer/ www.armyandyou.co.uk

mover in the child’s life – they live with you, go to school from your house, are registered with your GP practice and any child benefit or tax credits are paid to you. If you’re not considered the prime carer you will not be entitled to SFA but can apply for surplus SFA within the UK (surplus is not usually available overseas) to be charged at entitled SFA rates.

CHILDREN FROM PREVIOUS RELATIONSHIPS Similarly, if you’re married with children and already living in SFA, but have children who don’t live with you as the prime carer, these children will not be included when allocation of SFA is considered. Where available, it may be possible to request a house above entitlement so that you have extra room for

visiting children, but this will be dependent on availability and, if allocated, you would be charged the entitled rate for that SFA and would not get a reduction. Dependent children should be declared on your soldier’s JPA and they should contact their unit HR to complete the registration process. If you have concerns, contact Cat at housing@aff.org.uk winter 2017 Army&You 43


YOUR HOME WINDOWS

WINDOW BLIND CORDS

pan handles don’t overhang the hob.

Ensure that restrictors are fitted and working and remember to reset them every time you have to open the window. Make sure furniture is positioned far enough away to prevent children climbing on it to reach the window.

Make sure that they are tied up and out of reach of children.

EXTERNAL DOORS

SMOKE AND CO DETECTORS

Keep them locked to prevent children escaping unnoticed.

Regularly test them and never remove batteries.

STAIRS

ELECTRICITY SOCKETS

Fit stair gates and ensure no objects are left on steps.

Fit childproof socket covers.

CLEANING PRODUCTS HOB

Consider fitting childproof locks to cupboards.

To reduce the risk of scalds, ensure

Hidden home dangers There are hidden threats in all homes that intrepid toddlers will manage to find. Get ahead of them by checking this useful – but by no means comprehensive – list and taking appropriate precautions… If any safety fittings or locks need repair, contact CarillionAmey on 0800 707 6000

CO-EDUCATIONAL PREP AND BOARDING SCHOOL IN SUSSEX AGE 2-13 YEARS

AN OUTSTANDING EDUCATION IN AN IDYLLIC SETTING We welcome military families at Vinehall. Flexible boarding options available. Escorted London trains. Come and visit and see for yourself. Please contact Karen Cooper to arrange a visit or boarding taster session on 01580 883090 or at admissions@vinehallschool.com Vinehall School, East Sussex, TN32 5JL Tel: 01580 880413

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EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL

MAKING THE GRADE From entrance papers to GCSEs, A-Levels and beyond, exams are a fact of life for students up and down the country. But how do schools prepare young people for the trials and tribulations of testing and how important are good grades to future success? We spoke to education experts to find out...

M

ETICULOUSLY-created revision timetables, rows of desks lined up with military precision in hushed school halls and nervous faces around every corner can only mean one thing – the inevitable return of exam season. Whether as an annual test of a pupil’s progress or the assessment which will define their GCSE or A-Level grades, exams are an ever-present element of education. But with students’ next steps linked with their end-of-course performance, how do schools ensure those turning over their papers are academically and emotionally ready for the rigours of exam season? Anthony Kirk-Burgess, headmaster at Rookwood School, stressed the importance

of looking after pupils’ mental wellbeing in the face of a greater focus on exams over coursework, increased use of essay-style questions and escalating cost of higher education. “Today’s exam students do have a tough time, to say the least,” he told us. “At Rookwood, we place an equal focus on providing excellent pastoral care as we do on ensuring the highest quality of teaching and learning. “This is done through formal sessions during our PSHE and assembly programme on coping with stress and other pressures; by providing extracurricular and sporting opportunities so that students can unwind and relax; and through a culture in the staffroom of getting to know each student so that they feel valued and supported.”

Applying a sharp focus on pastoral care is an approach shared by Salisbury Cathedral School. Deputy head Nick Hawker explained that the school’s Speech Day celebrates many achievements outside of the academic realm, while a wealth of sporting opportunities provide a welcome chance for pupils to let off steam. He added: “We are renowned for our pastoral care and try to provide encouragement – because it is important to try – but we are also create awareness of the bigger picture so that there is perspective.” Shielding students from exam stress is key for Chafyn Grove headmaster Simon Head, who admitted the issue is “creeping ever more insidiously” towards younger pupils. To counteract any potential

pitfalls, he encourages his staff to employ a “less is more” approach to testing, explaining: “The children need to develop a certain amount of resilience towards testing through experience of it, however it is all too easy for it to acquire unworthy prominence if you test too often. “By playing down the importance of assessment, instead focusing on the invigoration of learning, you keep the stress of examinations in perspective. After all, perfect preparation prevents panic!” At St Mary’s Shaftesbury, girls approaching exams are given every chance to do so in top condition thanks to the services of an experienced health centre team. Students benefit from year-round access to nutritional consultations, sports massage,

Success! Pupils at Taunton’s Queen’s College celebrate their GCSE results

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winter 2017 Army&You 47


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Catholic Christian Preparatory school for boys and girls aged 3-13, day and boarding, with a long-standing tradition of supporting military families. Located in East Cranmore, Somerset with school transport from Somerset, Wiltshire & Dorset. A generous military discount, and flexible payment plans are available. To visit please contact our admissions team on admissions@allhallowsschool.co.uk or 01749 881609 48 Army&You winter 2017

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EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL

Adcote School’s Abigail Spalding received five A/7-and-above grades at A-Level

“Students are encouraged to look up from their books from time-to-time and see the bigger picture.” – Olivera Raraty, Malvern St James Girls’ School – aromatherapy and counselling which, according to deputy head Sarah Matthews, is an important part of the school’s efforts to provide balance. “They continue with their passions and interests throughout their GCSE and A Level years; letting off steam on the sports pitch, or in the art or dance studio, or cracking a skill completely off-curriculum is a great way to keep perspective,” she said. As important as it is to provide pupils with a focus outside of their studies, no school loses sight of the ultimate goal of helping those under their care to achieve their academic aims. For Alistair Bryce, a chemistry teacher at Queen Victoria School, the two elements are not mutually exclusive and success relies on helping students to find a balance between learning and relaxation. “We ensure pupils are aware of study techniques; the importance of setting SMART targets; prioritising the key elements of each course; and

knowing the importance of creating a positive study environment,” he explained. “That said, the exam season can be a particularly stressful time for pupils and their families. Finding the opportunity to wind down and enjoy personal time is essential for fully preparing each individual for the exams ahead.” The dual delivery of academic and personal development is also on show at Malvern St James Girls’ School, where sports facilities, the availability of pilates yoga and mindfulness courses and a chaplain-led mind-and-body workshop are allied with planning advice, bespoke revision sessions and past-paper practise to provide a well-rounded provision. Headmistress Olivera Raraty said: “Girls who are happy can thrive in their personal and academic lives. The home-fromhome environment we create here, and our comprehensive wellbeing programme, means that MSJ pupils are both physically and mentally

prepared for the exam process. “Students are also encouraged to look up from their books from time-to-time and see the bigger picture. We live in a beautiful part of the world – a designated Area of Natural Beauty – and a walk on the Malvern Hills is enough to soothe the soul and draw inspiration.” Wellington Academy’s executive headteacher Abrilli Phillip believes that preparation is the key to developing stressfree, successful students at exam time. “We are strong believers that the best intervention takes place in the classroom and [we] avoid pulling our pupils in many directions for after-school revision and last-minute catch up,” she explained. “We use an extensive formative assessment system which ensures learning is monitored closely by staff and lessons used to fill gaps quickly.” The proactive approach is shared by Vinehall School, where headmaster Joff Powis takes pride in ensuring that every pupil is primed for the trials and tribulations of testing. Students can access revision support and advice in class as well as taking practice papers or attending extra tuition lessons and prep sessions if required. Joff added: “Each child is given encouraging feedback with detailed targets for improvement and plenty of praise for areas of success. This high level of preparation helps students to feel calmer and more relaxed as the exam season approaches. “We are also fully aware of how stressful exam times can be for the parents and are proud of our strong relationships and open communication that ease the worries and share the load.” A growing appreciation of the negative role that anxiety

can play in young people’s development has helped bring about a number of changes to education – and students at All Hallows Preparatory School benefit from the innovative methods of headteacher and educational psychologist Dr Trevor Richards. Dr Richards works with pupils, staff and parents to foster a balanced perspective and help students manage any emotional problems. Deputy head Richard Barnes explained: “Our focus on progress and growth helps us to put examinations into their proper context. In conjunction with other staff, the head leads study skills sessions to equip our children to manage their preparation for examinations which will inevitably become part of their academic lives moving forwards. “Part of the school’s mission is to help our children flourish in whatever comes next for them. We also run seminars for parents, believing that interventions are far more powerful if we work in partnership to create the best outcomes for our children.”

SHARING SUCCESS If the emotional outcomes of different schools’ approaches are not always immediately apparent, the nature of exams makes the results much easier to gauge. And while achieving at or above expectation is obviously an important and joyous step for a student, it also holds significance for the staff and schools who helped them reach their potential. Dan Thornburn, headmaster at Edgeborough Preparatory School, saw 100 per cent of his year eight pupils accepted by their first choice of senior

“We are aware of how stressful exam times can be for parents and are proud of our strong relationships and open communication that ease the worries.” – Joff Powis, Vinehall School – www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2017 Army&You 49


Day, Weekly, Flexi and Full Boarding Co-educational • 3–13 years

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50 Army&You winter 2017

To arrange a visit please contact Mrs Catherine Hall: admissions@farleighschool.com Boarding Discount for HM Forces

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@ArmyandYou


EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL

Alistair Bryce, Queen Victoria School

school – a success in line with his aim of providing a highquality education for all. “Our pupils enjoy a broad experience in all areas and teachers ensure a balance between challenging pupils intellectual development while supporting their artistic, sporting, spiritual and social growth,” he added. Bredon School headteacher Koen Claeys said that exam success suggests that his students have been enrolled onto the right courses – a fact aptly demonstrated by Bredon’s 100 per cent pass rate at BTEC levels one, two and three. Koen said “It shows that our teachers know their students really well.” The pride that those at the front of the classroom feel over their students’ progress is in no short supply at Farleigh School, where 55 pupils in year eight successfully gained places at senior schools, with 20 gaining awards across areas including sport, art, music and performing arts. Jane Watts, deputy head (academic), said: “We teachers always have a tremendous sense of achievement when our pupils get into their first choice of senior school, especially when you take into account the extent of their involvement in so many other activities – music, sport, drama, debating, riding. There is a lot for these 12- and 13-yearwww.armyandyou.co.uk

Janet Watts, Farleigh School

olds to juggle!” The theme of academic achievement also runs through Monmouth School for Boys and Monmouth School for Girls. Male sixth formers secured the school’s best A-Level results since 2012 with 75.9 per cent achieving A*-B grades, a figure nearly emulated by the girls’ 75.2 per cent. James Boiling, head of sixth form at Monmouth School for Boys, told us: “The headline statistics at both schools were very strong and something for our students and staff to be very proud of. “Our outstanding results reaffirmed our view that all the hard work and dedication of staff and pupils pays off. We want our students at Monmouth to achieve their personal best, whether it’s an A*, A, B or C grade at A level.” Taunton’s Queen’s College, which aids its pupils’ preparations through a dedicated learning development department, is another school celebrating an upward trajectory in its examination results – particularly in the new 9-1 GCSEs in maths and English language and literature. Pamela Pawley, director of studies, added that excellent A-Level results allowed “virtually all” of the school’s students to earn places at their preferred universities.

She explained: “The results days are always a cause for celebration for the school and its teaching staff as they mark the end of a lot of hard work on the part of both the students and the teachers, who daily give up so much of their time to support and encourage them. “We always love to celebrate the successes of the individual – this can equally be a student who manages to pass a subject they have battled with throughout the GCSE course or a strong student who has managed to achieve A* grades in all areas.” At Adcote School, a sustained focus on STEM subjects resulted in 100 per cent A*-B grades in physics, 85 per cent in maths and 87 per cent in further maths. It also recorded a four per cent rise in top grades. The sense that students are not facing the stresses of exams alone is apparent at Warminster School, where Mark Sully, deputy head (academic), believes that teachers do their utmost to provide as much help as is needed. “The amount of extra support provided by staff leading up to exam sessions is fantastic,” said Mark, whose school posted a 100 per cent International Baccalaureate pass rate in July 2017 as well as a 99 pass rate in mathematics in the latest GCSE and A-Level sittings.

Anthony Kirk-Burgess, Rookwood School

“This support is provided during dedicated revision sessions in our Green Zone as well as lunchtime, after school and weekend support sessions. The staff take great pride in the results obtained by the pupils, as was seen on results day with a vast number of staff in school to celebrate with the pupils.”

CRAFTING CHARACTERS Given the impact exam results can have on students’ futures, it is no surprise that schools treat testing with such respect. But good grades are just one part of a wider educational picture and the measurement of students’ success extends much, much further. Sarah Matthews at St Mary’s Shaftesbury singles out her pupils’ happiness as a key indicator of the school’s success. “We want the girls to be happy,” she said. “Happy with their own achievements and happy that they’re achieving all they can. “Exam periods are about learning how to succeed as well as the success itself; we teach the girls how to manage the pressure they are under in sensible, realistic ways. This kind of resilience and feeling confident that you are well supported allows girls to flourish and do their best.” A dedication to producing well-rounded young people has seen Queen’s College put in winter 2017 Army&You 51


Welcome home... ♦ Flexible boarding and day options ♦ Specialist staff with knowledge of the Forces ♦ Support from other Forces families ♦ Visit us during any convenient leave ♦ Generous Forces discount available

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EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL

“Success is producing confident and friendly students who have the skills to succeed in whatever they choose to do.” – Pamela Pawley, Queen’s College – place a plan to become a centre of excellence for thinking and creativity. Pamela Pawley said this is being accomplished through the embedding of metacognition in all areas of school life to effectively develop thinking skills. She added: “Success is producing confident and friendly students who have the skills to succeed in whatever they choose to do in life. “We like to see students succeed by managing to problem solve and develop skills which will help them in life – as well as in exams.” For Nick Hawker at Salisbury Cathedral School, success represents ensuring pupils are capable of flourishing in whatever setting life throws at them. The school works with local companies to run a business workshop which exposes year eight pupils to everything from business plans and profit to teamwork. Nick explained: “This provides a valuable opportunity for pupils to shine as an alternative

to academic results. “There are many positive outcomes from attending Salisbury Cathedral School. Learning the skills of good communication with peers and seniors, resilience in adversity, and commitment to a cause are all excellent life skills.” All Hallows Preparatory School’s Richard Barnes argues that exam results are just one part of the “intellectual character” that he hopes to promote in each pupil. He added: “We want to cultivate, grow and celebrate each child’s capacity to combine thinking skills with knowledge, confidence and self-esteem, to believe in the legitimacy of their own thoughts, to speak their mind articulately (but change it when required), to contest poor thinking and prejudice assertively, and enjoy the challenge of mental sparring. “We foster intellectual risk-taking and curiosity, independence, resilience and effective learning habits within an ambitious, supportive

learning community where individual learning profiles are nurtured and celebrated, and where all children are encouraged to strive to achieve their very best.” Taking a wider view of a pupil’s progress is also advocated by Edgeborough’s Dan Thornburn. He is proud that his students are happy and excited about learning and enjoy being exposed to new and challenging experiences. He added: “Their all-round education is underpinned with intrinsic values and life skills that encourage a caring, tolerant and cooperative ethos.” For Koen Claeys at Bredon School, academic success outside of exam periods is achieved every time a teacher adapts their lessons to meet the needs of their pupils. “We believe in the idea that If a student cannot learn the way our teachers teach, our teachers will teach the way our students learn,” he explained.

SUPPORTIVE STAFF The notion that grades are not the be-all-and-end-all of education is endorsed by Chafyn Grove’s Simon Head, who said that cognitive testing can play a secondary role to the abilities of teachers to assess pupils’ progress and aspirations. Praising the bond between students and his staff, he added: “The relationship the teacher has with each pupil is all-important – how else can they pitch challenge correctly? The trust and understanding between the adults and children at Chafyn Grove is fostered by our policy of ensuring that no teacher just teaches. “All offer clubs, teams and pastoral support. The more guises in which teachers and pupils encounter each other,

the more meaningful the relationship becomes. “Something as simple as sitting with the children at lunch reaps invaluable dividends.” Janet Watts at Farleigh School also acknowledged that schools are most effective when they develop their students’ personal as well as academic abilities. Farleigh measures its success by tracking cognition – academic progress – and character, such as the development of life skills. Janet added: “We have also introduced a new online academic tracking system which enables us to monitor each child’s attainment in subjects across the school. These reveal attainment progress in each subject.” Queen Victoria School’s Alistair Bryce told us that attributing success purely to exam results provides an “oversimplified” view of education. He added: “We regularly emphasise the holistic development of both character and citizenship in order to best prepare students for an everchanging world. “Developing key aptitudes that provide strong foundations for our pupils after school is very important. Developing resilience, inquisitiveness, manners, perseverance, ambition and teamwork are essential to succeed in the modern world. “Success is a continuous journey rather than a one-way street – when we stop trying, we fail.” In the classroom, Warminster School ensures that all of its students are presented with aspirational goals to help them see what could be achieved with consistent effort. And while that can be a

“Success is a continuous journey rather than a oneway street – when we stop trying, we fail.” – Alistair Bryce, Queen Victoria School – www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2017 Army&You 53


ROOKWOOD SCHOOL

Girls & Boys | Day & Boarding | Nursery-16 Years "An outstandingly happy and successful school" ISI

Long association with military families | Scholarships & bursaries available To arrange a tour please contact our Registrar on 01264 325900 Weyhill Road, Andover, Hampshire | www.rookwoodschool.org

54 Army&You winter 2017

@ArmyandYou


EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL SCHOOLS DIRECTORY ADCOTE SCHOOL Shrewsbury, Shropshire adcoteschool.org.uk ALL HALLOWS PREP SCHOOL Shepton Mallet, Somerset allhallowsschool.co.uk BREDON SCHOOL Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire bredonschool.org CHAFYN GROVE Salisbury, Wiltshire chafyngrove.co.uk Koen Claeys, Bredon School

Rachel Rees and James Boiling, Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools

THE DUKE OF YORK’S ROYAL MILITARY SCHOOL Dover, Kent doyrms.com EDGEBOROUGH SCHOOL Farnham, Surrey edgeborough.co.uk FARLEIGH SCHOOL Andover, Wiltshire farleighschool.com HABERDASHERS’ MONMOUTH SCHOOLS Monmouth, Wales habs-monmouth.org

winning tactic in producing good exam results, Mark Sully pointed out that it also carries a number of fringe benefits. “What are difficult to measure are the soft skills that pupils learn along their journey – be it independence, resilience, determination or leadership. “All of these are learnt at Warminster School without necessarily leading to a public exam result.” Rachel Rees, head of sixth form at Monmouth School for Girls, pointed to the school’s strong pastoral support as a key tool in providing students with the perfect platform to excel and the self-belief to feel that anything is possible. She explained: “We are particularly pleased that the boys and girls achieve such outstanding academic results while also contributing with great energy and enthusiasm to the many areas of our cowww.armyandyou.co.uk

curricular programme. “We foster a can-do attitude and encourage students to seize every opportunity on offer during their time with us.” With no two children learning in the same way, taking an individual approach to education is a key component of life at Malvern St James. Headmistress Olivera Raraty wants each pupil to achieve their personal best and encourages them to have a go and learn from their mistakes. “Having the courage to attempt something that is new or different or a little bit scary is the hallmark of successful individuals,” she explained. “It’s something that we gently encourage in all of our pupils.” Whatever grades a student has under their belt when they graduate, it is clear that exam results are just one piece of the wider educational jigsaw. Viewing children as

Mark Sully, Warminster School

individuals and nurturing their personal development and interest in a range of activities and subjects sits at the centre of successful schools, as Vinehall School’s Joff Powis concluded. “A Vinehall child is a happy, busy and confident young person who communicates effectively with others and understands the importance of teamwork in a community,” he said. “At the end of their time at the school, the children are thoroughly prepared for the next stage of their lives. “They are active, positive young people with a range of interests, well-educated in a broad sense. “The start they have had academically, in the creative arts, through sports and in terms of confidence and personal development puts them in a strong position for future success in whatever terms suit them as an individual.” n

QUEEN’S COLLEGE Taunton, Somerset queenscollege.org.uk QUEEN VICTORIA SCHOOL Dunblane, Scotland qvs.org.uk ROOKWOOD SCHOOL Andover, Hants rookwood.hants.sch.uk SALISBURY CATHEDRAL SCHOOL

Salisbury, Wiltshire salisburycathedralschool.com ST MARY’S SCHOOL Shaftesbury, Dorset stmarys.eu VINEHALL SCHOOL Robertsbridge, East Sussex vinehallschool.com WELLINGTON ACADEMY Tidworth, Wiltshire thewellingtonacademy.org.uk WARMINSTER SCHOOL Warminster, Wiltshire warminsterschool.org.uk WANT TO FEATURE IN OUR EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL?

Get in touch at info@tylerbale.co.uk winter 2017 Army&You 55

To read more from our panel of teachers, visit armyandyou.co.uk/category/educationad

Sarah Matthews, St Mary’s Shaftesbury

MALVERN ST JAMES Great Malvern, Worcestershire malvernstjames.co.uk


A&Y BOOK CLUB

The Tickle Test

UP TO 15% FORCES DISCOUNT FOR DAY AND BOARDING

Your child at our heart

ISLA & LOGAN THOMPSON (4/7)

WILLIAM BARR (19 MONTHS)

ANGUS LOVIBOND (4)

Isla and Logan’s mum Amanda said: “The illustrations are fantastic and it’s a good book to be interactive with. You can talk about what you think is going to happen and have a good fun tickle at the end. The book is suitable for all ages. Logan loved reading it. The illustrations are amazing and it’s a lovely book to read together."

William’s mum Julia said: “The Tickle Test is great fun. We loved it because it not only has pictures of lots of our favourite animals, but it encourages lots of tickly interaction. It sees two mice perform a ‘tickle test’ on various creatures, with varying degrees of success. It has already become a favourite with William.”

Angus' dad Jason said: “Angus really enjoyed this book – he was smiling throughout. His favourite part was when ‘tickling a rhino is really no fun she will get very angry so you’d better run’. Being a Forces child, Angus enjoys his reading time with me, especially when it involves books about tickling.”

HAVE FUN SHARING BOOKS Reading Force is the national shared reading charity for Service families where you can share a book and talk about it, together at home or over Skype or

To find out more contact The Registrar on 01722 555300 or email admissions@salisburycathedralschool.com

www.salisburycathedralschool.com

56 Army&You winter 2017

SCS_Army&You_132x90_06.10.17_v1.indd 1

09/10/2017 15:33

FaceTime if separated from your soldier. You’ll receive a free book and scrapbook to fill in with your thoughts, letters, drawings and photographs. It’s a fun way to keep connected. Take part via your children’s school, HIVE,

or register online at readingforce.org.uk

If your children would like to review books for Book Club, email hattie@ readingforce.org.uk with their names and ages @ArmyandYou

The Tickle Test; hardback £11.99; published by Anderson Press

In this edition’s Army&You and Reading Force Book Club, three Service youngsters have been reading The Tickle Test, written by Kathryn White with illustrations from Adrian Reynolds.


DOWNTIME

For the love of the game Army spouse Natalie Craig explains how rugby is bringing the community together in Paderborn, Germany

O

NE of our squad wanted to start a ladies’ rugby team. She found a coach, and they gauged interest from serving ladies, family members and German nationals. Initially there was just a few people who wanted to be involved, but over time it’s grown really popular and more ladies have started to attend our training sessions. When I first started playing, I didn’t know much about rugby, but thought it would be great

to learn a new sport while getting fitter and toned. Now, I love it and find myself watching rugby on TV too as I actually understand it. I enjoy feeling involved in something and I love being part of a team. I struggled a little at first, but now I feel stronger and my endurance is much better. We train twice a week and thanks to our sponsors Senne Hussar and Paderborn United, we played our first tournament in September, with more coming up.

“I enjoy feeling involved in something and I love being part of a team.”

I would 100 per cent encourage anyone to try something new. I’ve met a great bunch of girls and a fab coach. We have fun with the added bonus of getting fit and we also run social events which we take our families along to. I think it helps with life in Germany by getting me out to socialise with different people, including serving and German ladies, who I wouldn’t have become friends with if it wasn’t for rugby. &

&

What do you do to escape the stresses of Army life? To tell us about your hobby and feature in Downtime, email editor@aff.org.uk www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2017 Army&You 57


UNITED KINGDOM

There to help UWO Capt Broomfield, from St Athan, with Army youngster Bethany Wrigley

AFF AND UWOs THE role of an AFF co-ordinator can involve working closely alongside UWOs and ROSOs. Abi Wrigley, AFF’s Wales Co-ordinator, said: “We have regular meetings with our local UWOs on a range of issues that affect families.” As well as through direct enquiries, coordinators meet families at coffee mornings and UWOs are often on hand for a chat. Abi explained: “I have found this useful as I can see how comfortable families are talking to the UWO, something that I can then take forward when handling certain cases brought to my attention.” Together with the UWOs, AFF co-ordinators cover problems such as when you hit a brick wall with a housing problem, or you’re struggling to cope when your soldier is away. Abi said: “I’ve tried to build a working relationship with the UWOs in my area so that they feel that I am an addition to their team and not working against them. We want the same result – making sure all families feel fully supported.” WO2 Parry, from the unit welfare team at the Infantry Battle School in Brecon, added: “It has been an absolute pleasure working alongside AFF. Abi has been instrumental in helping families to find employment in the rural areas of Powys. “Some spouses struggled after living in more affluent areas of the UK and Abi arranged for Powys Council’s employment officer to attend a coffee morning to dispel the myth about the lack of jobs. There are now quite a few family members in full-time and part-time jobs after initially thinking there was nothing out there. “AFF is an asset that no welfare team can do without. The support the charity provides is second-to-none.”

58 Army&You winter 2017

Your Unit Welfare Officer (UWO) or Regimental Operations Support Officer (ROSO) are there for you if you have any welfare concerns or need to seek advice. They are in post to support both soldiers and family members and are trained to provide welfare support, offering a confidential service. Your soldier should be able to tell you who your UWO/ROSO is, but if you are unsure, your local AFF co-ordinator will be able to help you.

Recent UWO course attendees Capt Colin Davidson and Sgt Martin Chard

TRAINING TO CARE

A

PART from it being a beautiful part of the country, Easingwold in North Yorkshire is also home to the Unit Welfare Course held each month. Any officer, warrant officer, senior NCO, Regular or Reserves, or civil servant who may provide welfare care for soldiers or families can attend this course. It’s split into two parts – a fiveday course as they start in their welfare role, and four to six months later, a twoday session. Sarah Gilbody, AFF UK’s Regional Manager Central, has been presenting on the course for more than three

years. She explained: “AFF presents on the first part of the course. We talk about what we do and how we can support Army families around the world. “It’s an opportunity to meet people as they embark on their welfare journey and I often see delegates again when I’m out and about in my areas. “We give details of the local AFF co-ordinators so they all have a point of contact once in post.” Throughout the week, via presentations and interactive sessions, prospective welfare workers learn about policy, safeguarding, loss and

bereavement, housing, the Army Welfare Service and other Service charities. The Mental Health First Aid course is also included. “They also do a role play with real families, so they can experience different scenarios,” said Sarah. A sub-unit support officer from Liverpool who recently attended the course said: “I enjoyed taking on board all the brilliant presentations. It was an eye opener.” If there are any budding actors or actresses in North Yorkshire who would like to help with the role play sessions (expenses paid), email Sarah at rmcentral@ aff.org.uk & @ArmyandYou


UNITED KINGDOM

RESERVES & YOU

A DAY IN THE LIFE Families officer Jason Broad, from Waterloo Lines in Warminster, works closely with AFF’s Wiltshire Co-ordinator Carol Morris. He tells us about his daily duties… What is a typical day? No two days are the same. You have to be reactive to a family’s needs and if it means dropping what you are doing then that’s the right thing to do. We are prepared for anything. One minute we are running a coffee morning and chatting to families and then it can be an appointment to sort out a divorce and give advice. How do you work with AFF? Coffee mornings are a good time to meet with AFF co-ordinators and find out about issues not only in our area but across the UK. Most of the issues are focused around housing and understanding how AFF can help and get involved. AFF workshops and roadshows are good for welfare officers www.armyandyou.co.uk

to attend as they update us on upcoming trends.

get involved in the local community.

How do you reach families living in their own homes? The best way is by social media. I prefer Facebook as you can use Messenger and most families use it. Some families are concerned that contacting their UWO will reflect badly on their soldier. I get this all the time and it isn’t true. By educating new soldiers, they grow up knowing that it’s not true and are happy to pass on concerns to their welfare office.

What advice would you give to a new UWO? Enjoy the post and the role! It has its rewards and you get to understand how to help a family and give advice and guidance. You can influence change that will help make a family’s time at your unit rewarding. Listen, be prepared for anything and don't prejudge. Every day is a learning day. By involving the families at the start of a posting you get to see the soldier leave, hopefully with promotion, and the family understanding Army life. Be happy in yourself knowing that every day you get to change people’s lives and build a safe community that understands Army life and all that it brings. &

How do you establish networks with other support organisations? It comes from time in the job and reaching out and getting yourself known. You are soon invited to meetings and asked to help out or

MOD Crown copyright, Sgt Jon Bevan

Friendly force: Welfare clerk Heidi Murray, SNCO welfare Sgt Leighton Shirton, families officer WO2 Jason Broad and AFF’s Carol Morris

IN RESERVE units, the ROSO (Regimental Operations and Support Officer) and ROSWO (Regimental Operations and Support Warrant Officer) are the welfare points of contact. Their job isn’t quite the same as a UWO as they’re responsible for recruiting, retention and employer engagement. If you’re a Reserve family, they’re your first stop for welfare concerns – not just when your soldier is deployed or training, but at any point during their service. The importance of this support was recognised in the Future Reserves 2020 defence review when the ROSWO post was introduced. These ROSO/ROSWO teams can offer direct assistance and liaise with other agencies such as SSAFA, or ourselves here at AFF. “We’re a tight-knit bunch of experienced men and women,” said 7 SCOTS ROSO Capt Alan McEwan. “Most of us have a number of years of Regular service behind us in addition to many more years of valuable life experience.” Capt Harry Smedley, ROSO for 103 Regiment RA, explained that the support that Reserve families need is totally different from families of Regular soldiers. “They tend to use local services such as housing, schools and childcare for example,” he said. “However, we do have an active welfare office and we get involved in any serious cases. “We organise social events such as fairs and parties to let people know that they’re part of the Army family, and our welfare page at Defence Connect has some useful links to organisations such as RBL and Big White Wall. “Our sub-units are spread far and wide, from our main base here in St Helens to the Isle of Man, Carlisle and Wolverhampton, so our soldiers and families tend to socialise and support each other in their sub-units. We also give them grants from our central fund for smaller events and get-togethers. “It’s when a unit has soldiers on operations that welfare support really kicks in, but we are here to help at any time.”

winter 2017 Army&You 59


OVERSEAS

Toddlers on their travels Being posted overseas with young children can be a great adventure, but it can also have its drawbacks. Childcare provision and facilities for under-fives varies from location-to-location, so the key thing is to find out as much information as you can before you go. Army&You checked in with AFF’s staff around the world for a snapshot of what some regions offer…

CYPRUS HQ British Forces Cyprus made a bid for Libor money (raised from government fines on the UK banking industry) for early years settings for children of Forces families in Cyprus. With the help of AFF and SSAFA, which ran a joint childcare survey to identify what Service families wanted, funding was granted for four facilities in Ayios Nikolaos, Dhekalia, Akrotiri and Episkopi. Jess Bainton, whose daughter Mila attends the current Episkopi setting, said: “The staff and facilities are good, but the new building will offer a big improvement. I’ve been lucky to have a peek at the new outdoor equipment – it looks fantastic and will offer greater stimulation and learning opportunities.” Plans for the settings include wraparound childcare, non termtime provision and wider use of the facilities. Louise Williams, senior early years manager for MOD Schools, added: “The new settings are much more spacious, which gives the potential for more places to be offered. “This will depend on the demand in each location and also the ability to recruit staff with the right qualifications.” At the time of going to press, three of the four facilities were up-and-running, with Episkopi set to open soon. Posted to Cyprus? Contact rmcyprus@aff.org.uk

60 Army&You winter 2017

Catering for kids in Canada IF YOU are posted to Canada with young children, be assured that there are plenty of activities to keep under-fives happy. From volunteer-run groups to more structured environments, the village of Ralston is well equipped for pre-school children to have fun, socialise and learn. Little Gophers pre-school runs four days a week for children aged two-and-three-quarters up until kindergarten. It uses the Early Years Foundation Stage system, follows the Ofsted framework – and you can use

childcare vouchers and your 15 free hours too. When asked what he enjoys about Little Gophers, three-yearold Tyler Garvey said: “Playing, laughing and having fun.” Be mindful that there is a waiting list, so if you’re heading to BATUS and need childcare, put your name down as soon as you can. Pop in and Play is a more informal group, while Kiddi Kare offers drop-in childcare for six months to three-year-olds. Lollipop Tots provides messy and sensory play for children

from birth-to-five, and a chance for parents to meet and chat. “My one-year-old loves splashing about in water and catching bubbles, while my three-year-old loves the craft activities – glue and paint galore,” said Cathy Perowne. “I enjoy a coffee and a catch-up with friends. It’s a great group that enhances the village community spirit.” Contact AFF’s Canada CoordinatorJen Bennett (canada@ aff.org.uk) or the Military Family Resource Centre on (001) 403 544 5567. @ArmyandYou


BRUNEI FOR Service families stationed in British Forces Brunei, Treetops nursery provides a great setting for

children aged three and under. The unit move between 1 Royal Gurkha Regiment and 2 Royal Gurkha Regiment last summer led to a significant change of both

children and staff. Treetops manager Kate Campbell said: “Before their arrival, we contacted the nursery back in Folkestone to find out as much information about the incoming children

and their individual needs. “We have been fortunate to recruit new talent for the nursery from those who were employed in nurseries in Folkestone, who already knew the children. This

GOING LOCAL MOVING to an isolated posting overseas can be both a great opportunity and a big challenge for Army families with children under five. It’s a chance for youngsters to experience a different culture, but it also takes time to pick up a new language and make friends, so the settling in process may take longer. AFF’s European Joint Support Unit Co-ordinator, Vic Porter, said support will depend on the posting location, adding: “It’s likely that there won’t be an MOD school or nursery, so you’ll have to link into the

host nation’s provision, which will probably have a different system. “In Italy and Belgium for example, local children don’t start compulsory education until they’re six.” The admission process can be daunting, but advice is at hand through your local community and the Children’s Education Advisory Service. You can also apply for the Overseas Nursery Allowance to cover the 15 hours you would get for free in England and Wales. “There are options for childcare, it’s just harder than

Growing the community PROVISION for under-fives in Kenya had previously been limited, but significant

changes have been made to improve things for the growing number of families

has helped enormously in settling the children in.” The nursery has helped to ensure strong relationships are built right from the beginning, even through times of change.

Drawdown challenge

I was anticipating,” said one Belgium-based Army spouse. “Having confidence in the local language helps and it widens your options.” If you have any concerns, contact Vic at ejsu@aff.org. uk or CEAS at DCYP-CEASEnquiries@mod.uk

posted to BATUK. Earlier this year, AWS community development worker Maggie Newman delivered an adult training package on themes such as safeguarding, session planning and risk assessments, giving people in the community the tools to run their own groups for youngsters. AFF’s Kenya Coordinator Sarah Brown explained: “One successful group – Mums & Tots – is led by Army spouse

Zoe Major. “There are activities like pizza making and painting, while mums and dads have time to chat. “A new play park has also been developed to create a place for newcomers to meet each other, and further improvements are planned including a visit and regular Skype sessions with a health visitor for advice and development monitoring.” If you have any issues or questions, send an email to kenya@aff.org.uk

WITH all Army families set to return to the UK in the next few years, childcare provision in Germany is both a challenge and an opportunity. There are concerns over nursery staff moving out of BFG, particularly key persons who play a vital role in supporting children. MOD schools are well-versed in the impact of mobility, however, and in many ways these challenges are not new ones. The schools in BFG are committed to ensuring that staffing levels are maintained. “A transition team has been created which has representatives from all settings that provide education and childcare in the 0-5 age bracket,” said AFF’s Regional Manager Germany, Katy Brookfield. “The team aims to ensure that your child receives the best possible care right up until the gates are closed.” All Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) leaders in BFG agree that there are bound to be concerns and invite you to come and talk to them about any problems you may have. Amy Wright, EYFS leader at Attenborough School in Sennelager, told us: “We are going to do our utmost to ensure we continue to offer excellence every day.” If you have any questions about childcare in Germany, contact AFF’s BFG team (see page three) or go to bfgnet.de

AFF is aware that planning ahead and finding out what’s available in advance of your overseas posting is not always easy and we’re looking at ways around this. If you need information, contact your local AFF co-ordinator – details on page three. www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter winter2015 2017 Army&You Army&You 35 61


OVERSEAS

A postcard from...

FRANCE How long have you been an Army family? 20 years Time in Besancon, Franche-Comte: Since August 2016 and this is our third posting to France. How many other military families live in Besancon? One other British Army family and lots of French Army families as it's a garrison town. What's your quarter like? A beautiful apartment in the middle of Besancon's old streets, with parking in the cobbled courtyard below - lovely, but very noisy due to student drinking nights, buses and early morning rubbish collections! Are there employment/training opportunities? French lessons are currently funded for spouses so I did a term's course at a local language centre. Employment is difficult unless you are fluent, particularly outside Paris, although teaching English is an option. On our first French posting, I taught English and worked as a PA and writer. Currently I do a little freelance writing and inspecting for a UK-based travel guide. What about schools/childcare? Our boys are boarding in England so we don't have experience of the French

62 Army&You winter 2017

system. French military families usually move their children for every posting. Where do Army families get together? There's a meetup of all British military in France once a year in Paris, including spouses. In the French military community, there are some events that include spouses too. Who supports families? For lone exchange postings like ours, you're pretty much on your own, with administrative support provided through the European Joint Support Unit based in Mons. What's the best thing about living in Besancon? It's a beautiful city and people are very friendly. There are great walks and cycle rides, wonderful restaurants and the citadel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Plus, in under three hours we can be on an Alpine ski slope. Despite all of that, it can feel a bit isolated at times. Would you recommend France as a family posting? Yes, definitely - but spouses need to get fluent in French fast. An ideal posting is when children are young enough to become bilingual through spending a couple of years in a local school.

FROM:

Sue, serving husband Nick, and

teenage sons Tom and Jonty

WHERE: Besancon, France

@ArmyandYou


FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH

Your rights after Brexit In June, the government published its proposals to safeguard the position of EU citizens living in the UK. AFF’s F&C Specialist, Katherine Houlston, looks at what this means for EU spouses of soldiers both in the UK and on overseas assignments…

E

UROPEAN Union citizens already living in the UK will be treated identically to other foreign nationals. You will be able to remain in the UK under EU law until Brexit and will then have a transition (grace) period of up to two years during which you will be expected to apply to remain under UK immigration rules. What you will be able to apply for will depend on the length of time you have been in the UK:

LESS THAN FIVE YEARS You’re likely to be given some form of limited leave to remain, which you will stay on until you have lived in the UK for five years. MORE THAN FIVE YEARS You’re eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). WHAT WILL IT COST? It’s not yet been decided. The proposals simply say that the fee will be set at ‘a reasonable level’. Given that the current cost of £2,297 for an ILR application for non-EU nationals is considered to be unreasonable by many, it’s difficult to predict what the cost will eventually be. IF I AM ELIGIBLE, SHOULD I APPLY FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCY (PR) NOW? After Brexit, PR status will

no longer be accepted as a means of remaining in the UK so there is no point in applying for this now unless you also intend to apply for citizenship prior to Brexit. To apply for citizenship now you will need PR; to apply for citizenship post-Brexit you will need ILR. If you’re eligible, this could be a cheaper route than waiting until after Brexit – a PR application is £65, compared to £2,297 for ILR. WHAT ABOUT COMPREHENSIVE SICKNESS INSURANCE? There has been lots of confusion about this. In order to apply for PR, you have to provide evidence that you have had comprehensive sickness insurance for the past five years – a requirement which many EU nationals were not aware of. The new proposals make it clear that it will not be necessary to have had this insurance in order to qualify for settled status after Brexit. This at least is good news. WHAT IF I HAVE BEEN/ AM ON AN OVERSEAS ASSIGNMENT? We are waiting for further information about this. It would be a clear disadvantage under the terms of the Armed Forces

Covenant to suggest that an EU spouse or child who has accompanied a soldier on an overseas assignment would not be eligible for ILR because they had not spent five years in the UK. The Armed Forces immigration rules for Commonwealth families allow for time spent overseas to count as residence in the UK, so it would be logical to presume that the government will allow the same discretion for military EU families.

Case study AFF Chief Executive Sara Baade (pictured with twins Alexandra and Harald) is a Swedish national. She recently applied for PR… “When Brexit was announced, I felt like a foreigner for the first time. It was an emotional period, but I had to begin the practical process of

WHAT IS AFF DOING? AFF’s Chief Executive, Sara Baade (who is herself an EU citizen – see right) and I met with the Home Office to discuss the impact of Brexit. We have asked that special consideration is given to EU spouses of soldiers and will ensure that this issue is kept on the table whilst the government develops the new rules. WHAT’S NEXT? It’s important to remember that these proposals are subject to change during the negotiations. Until Brexit is complete, there is no change to the status of EU nationals in the UK. To keep up-to-date, visit the AFF website at aff.org.uk &

applying for PR. “I’ve worked here for 17 years, my children are British, my late husband was a British soldier and I have private health insurance, so I never saw the need to have a British passport. Now, I feel I need more certainty. It’s a complicated process so I’m pleased to have help from Katherine, and in turn she will be able to pass on her expertise to other EU families. “From AFF’s point of view, there are many loopholes and we will champion the needs of EU Army families as a priority.”

www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2017 Army&You 63


MOORE FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY

It is important at the start of any relationship that you have the best advice on how to arrange your affairs in case of problems later on. Whether you are getting married, entering into a civil partnership or are cohabiting with your partner, it is important to make sure that assets, including your pensions, are preserved or distributed appropriately, particularly in the event that a relationship or marriage breaks down. At Moore Blatch you can trust our professional, reliable and friendly team to look after all your needs. Please contact Debra Emery, partner and head of family on 023 8071 8057 or debra.emery@mooreblatch.com. www.mooreblatch.com

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LAW ADVERTORIAL

A test of true romance? Discussing divorce undoubtedly dampens dreams of wedded bliss, but more and more couples are letting their heads rule their hearts ahead of getting hitched and putting a prenuptial agreement in place. We ask a panel of law experts why...

P

REVIOUSLY the preserve of pop princesses and Hollywood heartthrobs, pre- and post-nuptial agreements are an increasingly common component of modern marriages. Their transcendence from tabloid headlines and gossip columns into the mainstream has been driven by businessmen and women taking a more pragmatic approach to relationships, but what relevance do they have to Forces families? In the absence of vast property portfolios, millions of pounds stashed in offshore accounts and luxury yachts in Monaco, is there any point in those about to become wedded to a soldier and Army life taking the not-terribly romantic step of signing up to a prenup? And should those who have already said “I do” to their loved one and to following the flag now be considering a post-nuptial www.armyandyou.co.uk

agreement, no matter how happy their home life? Regardless of which “p” applies to your marital status, both agreements seek to achieve the same thing, according to The Family Law Company’s David Cobern. “They prescribe the financial arrangements for you and your children if you decide to separate in the future,” he said. “The term ‘prenuptial’ refers to an agreement entered into before the marriage, while ‘post-nuptial’ means an agreement entered into after the marriage. “Both are documents signed by you and your spouse that contain detailed provisions for any future divorce settlement. “A post-nuptial agreement is usually entered into because a couple didn’t enter into an agreement before they married, or where there has been a separation

“It’s never too late to have a postnup, but of course the couple have to agree to everything and nobody is obliged to sign.”

and reconciliation.” Richard Bebb, a partner at Wiltshire firm Goughs, clarified: “The big difference between the two is that once a couple are married, legal and financial obligations are automatically created and the opportunity to sort everything out beforehand is lost. It’s never too late to have a post-nup, but of course the couple have to agree to everything and nobody is obliged to sign.” In respect of what is covered by the agreements, Debra Emery – a partner and head of family at Moore Blatch LLP – said the terms can be as wide or specific as couples want them to be. “In the case of a prenuptial agreement, it can include the definition of what does and does not count as marital property, bearing in mind that on divorce the court’s starting point is an equal division of all marital winter 2017 Army&You 65


Goughs Army and You Mag 186wx132h.qxp_Layout 1 02/02/2017 14:27 Page 1

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property, regardless of who purchased or contributed to it. “Marital property is generally considered to be anything accrued within the course of the marriage relationship, including for any period of pre-marital cohabitation and always including the marital home. So, for example an Army pension could be deemed to be a marital asset notwithstanding that it started before the relationship commenced. It is not necessarily the case that a spouse will only receive an Army pension share based on a strict mathematical calculation of length of marriage against length of duration of the pension plan.” While the purpose of such agreements is well understood, the need for so-called “everyday” people to consider putting them in place remains clouded by their reputation. Acknowledging that prenups are still perceived to be a little too LA for many UK couples, Andrew Woo, a solicitor and partner at Devon-based law

Rachel Shoheth, Gard & Co gardandco.com www.armyandyou.co.uk

firm Brewer Harding and Rowe, said: “Prenuptial agreements are often associated with the world of celebrity and the lifestyles of the rich and famous – although notably, Sir Paul McCartney publicly stated before his wedding to Heather Mills that he didn’t want one and when they eventually did divorce, that decision resulted in very costly, stressful and lengthy litigation. “These days, prenuptial agreements are no longer exclusive to the celebrity world. More and more are being used by ordinary individuals to help prevent costly, lengthy and hostile battles in court if the relationship comes to an end.” Lin Cumberlin, a chartered legal executive at Batt Broadbent Solicitors in Wiltshire, was also quick to dismiss prenuptials as only being of use to the wealthy and well-heeled. “They provide clarity, transparency and certainty and are useful for all types of people,”

“Prenuptial agreements are no longer exclusive to the celebrity world. More and more are being used by ordinary individuals.”

Andrew Woo, Brewer Harding & Rowe brewerhardingrowe.com

she said. “Agreeing how assets are to be divided on break down of the marriage can help to ensure fewer disagreements about finances in the event of divorce. They can also save costs.” Rachel Shoheth, a partner in the family law team at Plymouth's Gard & Co Solicitors, endorsed the view that Service couples were as entitled as celebrities to safeguard their fiscal futures. “Everyone’s financial circumstances are different and therefore each agreement will be a bespoke document which will be prepared to give effect to the terms you have agreed,” she added. “It does not matter whether your finances are significant or modest, there is no financial threshold. “Prenuptial agreements can be of particular benefit to couples embarking on a second or subsequent marriage who will not only wish to protect assets but also make provision for the benefit of children from a previous relationship. Others will approach a second marriage with more caution if they have already had to divide or share assets from an earlier marriage by consent or by court order.” Richard added that post-nuptial agreements provided a useful way of dealing with things that tend to crop up later in life. “For example, a gift from a parent to an adult married child – to buy a house or as part of inheritance tax planning – might happen far more easily if it’s ringfenced by a postnup to protect it if the child later divorces,” he said. “If the marriage is happy,

Debra Emery, Moore Blatch mooreblatch.com winter 2017 Army&You 67


68 Army&You winter 2017

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everyone benefits: the parent gets peace of mind before making the gift and the adult child can share the windfall with their family.” Pragmatism and practicalities aside, perhaps the biggest challenge to the popularity of pre- and post-nuptial agreements is the prospect of prickly conversations with your partner. Nobody wants to plan for a possible divorce ahead of exchanging their vows and it is easy to understand how doing so can be a romance killer. However, David insists that pitching a prenup does not need to suggest a lack of faith in a relationship if the topic is approached in the right way. “Older couples find it less difficult to raise the subject,” he said. “Anyone who has experienced the pain of separation and has dependants from a previous relationship doesn’t tend to have a problem discussing safeguards against separation with a new partner.

“In the same way, an older partner is usually – or should be – very understanding about such a request, particularly when they are in a similar situation. “Younger people can still struggle with the concept of a prenuptial agreement. After all, it isn’t an easy subject to broach when you are young and in love. But being realistic, relationships are all about negotiation and compromise and being able to discuss matters is a sign of a strong relationship.” This sentiment is shared by Lin, who added: “Discussing finances and agreeing how you both want your finances to be dealt with if the marriage does break down can actually help to improve a relationship and promote trust. “You are being open and honest with each other about your assets and liabilities and have the freedom to agree what you want to do with your assets without having it imposed upon you.” And Debra said it was her

David Cobern, The Family Law Co thefamilylawco.co.uk www.armyandyou.co.uk

"Relationships are all about negotiation and compromise and being able to discuss matters is a sign of a strong relationship.”

Lin Cumberlin, Batt Broadbent battbroadbent.co.uk

experience that suggesting a preor post-nuptial rarely produced hands "thrown up in horror”. “Couples these days are realistic,” she insisted. “They often come to a marriage relationship with existing assets or with the prospect of future inheritance. The average length of a marriage in the UK is only nine years and hence, whilst optimistic of success going forward – and that is only right – it is a sad fact that relationships do break down and perhaps Service relationships are more prone to this than others, given the specific strains arising from Army life.” Importantly, said Rachel, an agreement should not be viewed as “preparing to fail”. “We all need to be pragmatic and that often means taking steps to regulate financial arrangements in the same way that you would take out buildings insurance or make a will,” she explained. “Planning your future together will benefit you both.” And when conducted correctly, this planning can help reduce further heartache in the event that the worst should happen, concluded Andrew. “If the prenuptial agreement is valid and was entered into properly, it is likely that the courts will use it or at the very least follow it as a guide to what type of financial settlement to make. “Therefore, it is arguable that prenuptials are now essential for your financial security. If you are interested in pursuing an agreement before your big day, you should see a solicitor who specialises in family law.” n

Richard Bebb, Goughs Solicitors goughs.co.uk winter 2017 Army&You 69


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Postbag

Something to share about Army life? Tell us about it by emailing editor@aff.org.uk – you don’t need to worry that it will affect your soldier’s career. Please include your name and address. They will not be revealed to anyone outside AFF without your permission.

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72 Army&You winter 2017

Time for MOD to adopt cycle scheme THE cycle to work scheme has been introduced across the country, enabling workers to purchase a bike tax-free, with accounts being administered by their employers. Although it is run in a similar vein to the childcare voucher scheme, the main difference is that the company will pay for an employee’s bike up front and the employee repays through salary sacrifice. That may not be palatable to HM Forces as it constitutes a loan, but a condition of purchase could be that the employee must have enough funds in an account before any transaction takes place. The scheme could be administered by Sodexo, which already runs the childcare voucher scheme, and the set up would be relatively simple. Historically, military personnel have been told they cannot use this scheme as they can receive home-to-duty travel expenses. However, this is not the case for those who live within nine miles of the duty station. There is no reason why they should not be entitled to this tax break, like so many of their civilian counterparts. Encouraging military personnel to cycle to work instead of using cars would be a huge step forward for fitness too. Will the MOD consider introducing this initiative? Name and address supplied.

Healthy choice: Should the MOD encourage personnel to take to two wheels?

Response from Brig Chris Ghika, Hd PersCap, Directorate Personnel Capability: The MOD is not currently considering any increase in salary-sacrifice schemes available to Service personnel. It already encourages people to cycle to work through the Home-to-Duty Travel (HDT) cycle rate of motor mileage allowance, one of the few employers to provide an allowance to contribute towards travel to work on a bicycle. Currently, this is set at £0.15 per mile, with the claimant contributing the first three miles. A five-mile commute from SFA equates to £131.40 tax-free per year and is also paid when a soldier is on leave

or away (up to ten days in one period). As cycle to work is a non-taxable benefit, like HDT, you would not be entitled to claim both. Additionally, Service personnel would not be able to ‘switch back’ to HDT (for example if they were injured and had to start driving to work) until the cycle to work ‘hire period’ was complete. HDT is also available throughout a soldier’s entire career, whilst you can only benefit from one cycle to work application. Consequently, the MOD considers HDT pedal cycle to be a preferable option, especially when you consider that civilians do not benefit from the comprehensive taxfree HDT allowance.

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POSTBAG

Homebuying help WE ARE in the final few years of my soldier’s service and would like to buy our own home. With little or no second income due to years of following the flag, our savings for a deposit are a drop in the ocean compared to what we need. We know that my husband’s pension lump sum is coming, but we can’t access it until after he’s left the Army. It means that rather than taking our time to get a good mortgage deal and move out before our Notice to Vacate expires on our quarter, it will all be a rush in the final weeks of his service as we try to convince the mortgage lender to bridge the loan until the money comes through. Plus, it’s easier to get a mortgage in the first place while he’s on full pay and guaranteed income. I know there are schemes like Forces Help to Buy, but ultimately this is still just a loan which needs to be repaid. We could go down this route and then pay off a large chunk of the repayment when he leaves the Army, but there are often limits to

74 Army&You winter 2017

this and re-mortgaging might not be a good option if interest rates go up in the meantime. Generally, the bigger your deposit, the better your mortgage deal and the lower your monthly repayments, so isn’t it time that the MOD allows soldiers to access their lump sum payment at least six months before their last day of service? Even if this means some adjustment to the final amount, it would help many families like ours. Name and address supplied. Response from Army Remuneration Policy: Unfortunately, this is not something the Army or Defence has the authority to change as the pension schemes are all governed by statutory legislation. For all three schemes the member must meet the following criteria to become entitled to the pension payment of a lump sum or pension income: ‘ceases pensionable service’ (AFPS 75); ‘cease to be in service’ (AFPS 05); or ‘ceases to be in pensionable service’ (AFPS 15).

Response from David Marsh, pensions secretary of the Forces Pension Society: The pension scheme is not a savings account that you can cash in at any point, other than through completion of service in the company that offers the pension scheme in the first place. I am aware that private pension plans can be surrendered for a cash lump sum even if remaining in employment, but even that option is not available to anyone prior to their 55th birthday. Whilst the AFPS 75 pension scheme does pay pensions and lump sums before age 55, it is severely restrictive in terms of flexibility in so many other ways compared even with AFPS 05 and AFPS 15 because of that age concession (minimum of 37 for officers and 40 for other ranks and ratings). AFF view: Many families tell us about the financial difficulties around house purchase and we are trying to find creative ways around this. @ArmyandYou


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Army&You Winter 2017  

The Winter 2017 issue of Army&You, the official magazine of the Army Families Federation.