Results of Listening to our Service Children survey are out

We asked families to share their views on the impact of Service life on Army children. The survey focused mainly on the experiences of parents and their perceptions of their children’s experiences.

In total, 89% of families told us they are considering whether to leave the Army due to the impact of Service life on their child.

Gaps in learning

Nearly half of families told us that their child had experienced a gap in their learning due to changing schools. Comments also suggested that there was a lack of consistency in support to deal with gaps in learning.

One family told us, “I think having gaps in knowledge have damaged my son’s self-esteem. It has had a long-term negative effect.”

Effect on well-being

Another key issue highlighted was the impact of frequent mobility on the mental health of children, highlighting issues of anxiety and loneliness. A third of our respondents reported children losing a significant amount of friends to due repeated moves.

One family said, “She now suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, directly caused by moving schools too much.”

Inconsistencies in use of Service Pupil Premium

More than half of respondents felt that their school’s use of SPP did not provide any effective support. The was concern that the funding was often absorbed into the main school budget and not targeted for use for Service children.

Unique strengths

On the plus side, families said that Army life offered children the chance to make new and diverse friends from different cultures and backgrounds. It also built skills such as resilience, confidence and tolerance.

What next?

AFF is working with the Service Children’s Progression Alliance to bring your views and experiences to their research investigating how to make sure Service children’s voices are heard. This survey forms part of our contribution to the Alliance’s ‘Year of the Service Child Voice’ project. The one-year project is due to report in April 2020.

Our next job is to make sure those at the very highest levels of policy-making listen to your views and engage with families.

Take a look at our brief to Army command here.

See also the autumn issue of Army&You magazine for more information.



    Thank you all for your comments which have been passed on to our Policy & Research team. If anyone would like to discuss issues further please do get in touch with our Education & Childcare Specialist, Jilly Carrell on

    We are a mobile serving family and our daughter started boarding at the age of 9 due to so many school moves. Fortunately she absolutely loves it and has thrived. I don’t understand why the Military constantly move people, they train someone in something to a high standard for three years or less eg: cyber defence, and then just as the soldier is getting good at that specialism they move them somewhere else and get a new person in post who they have to train from scratch again. It’s such a poorly run business and wastes so much time and money, the whole system needs updating and overhauling.

    Also, rather than pay for children to attend boarding school, CEA could be better spent assisting families to live in private rented accommodation in one location so the children can attend one school. There should be options, being in the military life as a family feels very disempowering and we definitely lack choice about ours and our children’s lives and futures.

    When I was serving in the Army 1995 – 2017, we made the decision to buy our own home in 2009 after being told we would have to move twice in less than a year for a career course. This ultimately led to me serving 8 years married unaccompanied to ensure my wife could have a stable career, but more importantly that my daughter could have a stable school life, build a group of life long friends and have somewhere to call home.

    I settled my children in to boarding school as the amount of schools they had attended resulted in gaps in learning and falling behind significantly. They both struggle to form close friendships and we’re constantly worried about the next school move, asking when are we moving next! Unfortunately, just as they have settled I have re-toured at the same unit so am now losing my CEA (in the appeal process). My children are anxious and overwhelmed about having to start another new school. Service life is hard on kids.

    It would be good to get a straight answer on the SPP funding and how it can be used to benefit our children. When my children were at primary school because they did not require any educational assistance we could use the SPP towards trips but now they are in secondary that’s all changed.
    They are both going on a trip to Poland to visit Auswitz camp and the Jewish quarter but we have been told yet again that the SPP cannot be used because this trip is not educational!!!!
    Bonkers! Can we insist they use it towards the cost of trips and if so what regulation must they adhere to as we are being told no at every level?

    Thank you so much for your feedback surrounding the use of SPP and the way that it is spent in some schools. We receive a lot of enquiries from both families and schools around SPP and we are conscious that in some cases, both schools and families may come into conflict regarding how the money is spent, or could be spent to benefit our Service children, as well as being aware of what we can ask from our schools.

    As you know, SPP is money that is paid directly to state schools, free schools and academies across England for supporting Service children. The amount is £300 per child in Years R-11. It was introduced by DfE as part of the commitment to delivering the Armed Forces Covenant, and the intention of the premium enables schools to provide extra, mainly pastoral, support for children with parents in the Armed Forces.

    Schools, in essence, have the authority to decide how the money is to be spent on Service children mainly on pastoral support. Unlike the Pupil Premium, SPP is not for attainment; however, mobile Service children may need targeted help in a new school to catch up with their class, as you have quite rightly pointed out. Different schools can and will spend the money in different ways, but they must be able to demonstrate, when inspected that SPP is benefitting the Service children within the school. Unfortunately, this money cannot be spent on school trips.

    Please contact Jilly Carrell, AFF Education and Childcare Specialist on 07527492869 or if you need more info.

    We have moved into private rental because of negative impact this kind of life has in the while family. Husband can cone and go as needed this way and the main body if the family are settled, albeit horrendously expensively. Punished for having a family. But they are the future and must come first!

    Thank you very much for your comment on the post, we appreciate hearing our families views on how best to support our Service children. In our survey we asked families their views on the pros and cons of Army life and high mobility is definitely one of the key areas that parents feel has an impact on the stability and progression of their children. AFF will continue to monitor this issue and also work with the Armed Forces Covenant team to ensure that children are not disadvantaged by their parents’ service.

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