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County’s work to integrate Forces children praised by Royal British Legion

Staffordshire County Council’s work to help children of Armed Service families settle into education in Staffordshire has been praised by a leading Forces charity.

The Royal British Legion has commended the county council on its work to create school places for British Service children, who moved into the county from Germany in 2015 as part of the Ministry of Defence’s Borona programme.

This programme saw more than 1000 military personnel and their families move to Beacon Barracks in Stafford, which meant the county council had to ensure there were enough school places in the area to meet increased demand.

To help the families settle in Stafford, education officers and local head teachers went to Germany to talk to families about the plans for their move.  They also produced a special admissions guide for the families, giving them advice on the school admissions process and what they needed to do to secure a place for their child.

As well as expanding existing schools ahead of the move, the county council commenced construction on the £5million Veritas Academy which initially began with 145 pupils and will be able to accommodate 420 pupils plus 52 nursery children when at full capacity.

The Royal British Legion also praised the work Veritas have done to settle those pupils who came from Germany, and how they have forged close links with the nearby Beacon Barracks.  Although not specifically a military school, a lot of children who attend Veritas come from military families.

Charles Byrne, Director General of the Royal British Legion said:

“As a nation we promise through the Armed Forces Covenant to support those who serve our country. Research shows us that school moves can be destabilising for children, and that Service children can find regular moves upsetting and disrupting. Staffordshire County Council have taken clear steps to improve the experience of Service pupils in the County. By sharing examples of best practice such as those in Staffordshire, we can help schools across England deliver the best support and guidance they possibly can for our Service families.”

County Councillor Philip White, Cabinet Support Member for Learning and Employability, will be speaking about the project at a Royal British Legion event during the Conservative Party Conference.

He said:

“The relocation of the Signals Regiments was one of the biggest in Staffordshire’s military history. We wanted to make the move as easy as possible and ensure we provided the right conditions to allow our service personnel and their families to thrive as an important part of the community in Stafford.  We worked closely with the MOD and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation to ensure we were prepared for the move, and liaised with local schools to make them aware of what was coming, how we could help them prepare, and what our plans were.

“The project has been a tremendous success, and we can see that over the past two years the children have settled into their new environment really well.  This is all thanks to our forward planning, and the hard work and dedication of our local schools.”

Head teacher of Veritas Academy Angela Kerr said:

“It was an exciting and busy time for staff, parents and children.  We were incredibly impressed with the resilience of our children and the way our parents got behind us even though they hadn’t been able to see inside the school building.  Through a lot of hard work by many people we have come together to form a growing school community who are proud of their school and are achieving great things.  As we enter our third year we look forward to what the future holds for Veritas and its pupils.”