At St Mark’s C of E Junior School we have a growing number of children from service families amongst us due to our proximity to Salisbury Plain and nearby military bases. We expect these numbers to grow in the next three years with the significant relocation changes that the military faces. We welcome admissions applications from service families living within our catchment area. Please follow the Local Authority timelines for normal admissions into Y3 and contact the school for more information about whether we have spaces for transferring in-year.
St Mark’s C of E Junior School (Y3 to Y6) – 01722 333497 or www.st-marks.wilts.sch.uk
To apply for a school place: https://admissions.wiltshire.gov.uk/prefs.php
If you have younger children please contact:
- Wyndham Park Infants School on 01722 334594 or http://www.wyndhampark.wilts.sch.uk/ or
- St Mark’s Pre-School – (aged from 2) 01722 330382
At St Mark’s our Service Families Champion is Mrs Linda Corfield who is a teacher at the school and part of a service family herself. She is there to support and advise our children and families.
As a first point of contact families arriving in the area often encounter our PSA** (Mrs Norma Hallett) via the shop – a unique social enterprise that is run on site for the benefit and enjoyment of all. Norma works across St Mark’s and Wyndham Park and has a wealth of knowledge of other service families – and can help parents meet other families, settle quickly, find employment e.g. weekly Tea and Chat sessions, working in the shop, signposting to other agencies etc.
We have several systems in place to support families during deployment or prolonged separation:
- ELSA (Mrs Catherine Jenkins) – provision
- School Counsellor (Alex) – trained by Relate especially for working with children
- PSA (Mrs Norma Hallett) – support for parents
In 2014, extra funding was gained through a bid to the Ministry of Defence Support Fund. This was used to train staff in support techniques and counselling, and we are now better placed to give appropriate and timely support to our service families and children as and when the need arises.
Many schools are already going that extra mile to help support our children but with this funding we are able to ensure that new schemes and initiatives can be introduced to both develop and further your children’s education and wellbeing. The first step is to make contact. We know ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ so we are here to listen and help where needed. To summarise, our aim is to ensure all military families have consistent and continuous provision for their children’s learning, pastoral care and special educational needs, to ensure that they progress and achieve their undoubted potential.
Gareth Flemington (Headteacher – St Mark’s C of E Junior School)
You may find some of the following links useful:
- Child Education Advisory Service (CEAS) – Information and support to Service families and eligible MOD civilians on all aspects of the education of their children in the UK and overseas
- Military Kids Connect (MKC) is an online community for military children (ages 6-17) that provides access to age-appropriate resources to support children dealing with the unique psychological challenges of military life.
- ELSA – Emotional Literacy Support website with online resources for teachers and support staff
- Network of state schools in England providing support and advice regarding Service Children and produced a handbook for schools:
- HMS Heroes – A peer mentoring initiative for Service children based in Plymouth
At previous Tea and Chat Sessions (held weekly in the Sycamore Room) we have discussed:
- settling your children into their new school
- resources available to help meet their needs
- picking a secondary school
- clubs, opportunities, sports etc
- who to contact should the need arise
- deployment and how we can help support your children through this sometimes unsettling time
We are always open to discussing new topics and inviting others with experience/who can advise – just let us know.
Service Premium Spending
The Service Premium helps schools in England to provide additional support to service children. Service parents with children in state-funded schools in England should ensure the school is made aware of their Service status so that the School Census can be completed accurately.
At St Mark’s we fully accept that not all Service children can be ‘lumped together’ and therefore have single approaches. This ‘blunt tool’ approach is too crude and unhelpful to all concerned – especially
the children. Some of our provision is deliberately reactive (as the need arises) and some is proactive (often depending on intel at the time).
‘Labels are for filing…labels are for clothing…labels are not for people’ Martina Navratilova
Better identification of children – email list.
Ideas and initiatives we have explored for spending money to support children:
- Learning Mentor Programme
- Homework Support Groups
- Pastoral Support e.g. ELSA time
- Funding for after-school clubs
- Additional Needs support for newly arrived
- Access to PSA
- Access to counselling priority in time of deployment
- Access to play therapy
- Access to nurture group
At present funding is being used to support enhanced transition (small group work, additional visits, photo books, family liaison etc); emotional support (1:1 or small group support to target play, social and emotional issues with nominated TAs); confidence-building (i.e. group projects with nominated teachers/TAs); training for key staff (teaching and TA) to be able to support particular learning needs (i.e. Makaton training) and swift and easy referral (where gaps in pupil progress are identified and actioned immediately following admission).
With the imminent influx of military personnel to Wiltshire’s super-garrison, it is anticipated that all schools in mid/south Wiltshire will see an increase in pupils from service families in the coming years. Our bid objective is to mitigate the impact of mobility for service pupils and families by building our schools’ response capacity. Using current practice as a starting point, our project will fund additional teaching, TA, PSA and therapist hours to train existing staff, create pupil/family induction programmes and build an overall model of practice which can be used, and shared, on an ongoing basis.
At present an average of 13% of pupils across the three campus schools’ come from service families- some of whom are on active duty and some permanently stationed within Wiltshire. However, in light of the Army’s 2020 Plan to relocate regular forces from Germany to Salisbury Plain and to further develop the area’s Super Garrison, the service personnel and dependents’ presence in Wiltshire is likely to increase by almost one third over the next five years. Although the majority of service pupils are, and will continue to be, catered for in schools at Tidworth, Amesbury, Chippenham and Warminster, it is anticipated that the 140 service children currently educated in Salisbury’s maintained schools will increase proportionately as more service families are moved to Service Family Accommodation or rent/purchase accommodation privately in the area. Across our three schools, admission of additional service pupils is already anticipated as the Army 2020 Plan is put into place over the next few years. Even an additional 10 pupils across the three schools would present a significant increase in our service families and will require a united, strategic approach to helping service families integrate quickly into our school communities and service pupils fulfil their academic
- create specific service family pages on our three websites aimed at helping service parents and pupils gain a ‘taste’ of our schools and find the information they need to make selections
- introduce a Service Families Champion in each school
- develop service pupil and family induction/nurture programmes aimed at easing integration into school life and the school community
- through training, develop expertise among our teaching and support staff in recognising and addressing issues often faced by service pupils following relocation
- create release time for teaching and support staff to visit other schools/agencies to research existing good practice and sources of help
- extend the capacity of the Parent Support Adviser for St Mark’s & Wyndham Park Schools
- create release time for teaching and support staff to build experience of working with a range of external specialists, therapists and therapies (play, art, music, counselling etc) to address pupil and issues arising from relocation
- use the mobility mitigation model to create awareness in all school staff of the issues faced by service pupils/families
ELSA – Emotional Literacy Support Adviser
Highly trained specialist who works full-time to support children with a range of needs e.g. social, behavioural, emotional or sometimes a combination of all of them. Our ELSA takes a ‘minister without portfolio’ approach – not tied to a class or year group but works across the school with children, staff and parents. The ELSA usually works out of the Garden Room.
PSA – Parent Support Adviser
Highly trained specialist who works full-time with parents primarily with advice, specific support e.g. parenting, budgeting etc and to listen. The PSA also works closely with individual children to provide additional help and guidance as required. The PSA usually works out of the Shop (The Street – between St Mark’s and Wyndham Park).
We employ a Relate trained Counsellor who works weekly with children for a variety of reasons e.g. family break ups, school transition, death in the family etc. The ‘Time to Talk’ programme is a confidential six week scheme that has proved to be very successful in the four years we have offered the service.
DHT – Deputy Headteacher
Highly trained teacher and senior leader who works full-time in a variety of roles e.g. Teaching, Learning and Assessment etc.
SENCO – Special Education Needs and Disability Coordinator
A senior leader who leads the Inclusion Team (ELSA, PSA etc)