Best Practice: Support Assistant

Hythehill Primary School, Lossiemouth, employs a Forces Families Support Assistant to ease transition periods for Forces Children, their friends and families

School: Hythehill Primary School
Location: Lossiemouth
Council: Moray Council

Cheryl Maxwell was appointed Forces Families Support Assistant in June 2020, during the first lockdown. Cheryl’s experience as a Forces family wife and previously working with forces families through her childminding business gave her a wealth of tools in her kit to support a wide variety of children at Hythehill.


Once appointed Cheryl liaised directly with the Head Teacher to identify children across Primary 1-7 who required support due to:

  • Posting Away from Lossiemouth – transitioning out
  • Posting into Lossiemouth – transitioning in
  • Deployment groups
  • Individual check-ins
  • Family check-ins – siblings
  • Non-Forces families who require support due to Forces friends or family moving out of the area.

From the identified groups, Cheryl’s timetable was constructed to work either weekly or fortnightly with various groups. The timetable is regularly assessed for additional need and changes in cohort.

All groups are transient due to the nature of the work being undertaken.

Transition out

Groups for families transitioning out work for a sustained block of time and usually as a sibling group, depending on the length of time prior to posting. The children complete a transition booklet with Cheryl, gathering memories and evidence of their time at Hythehill. In some cases, Google Meet sessions have been organised for children to connect with their new teacher, class and virtual tour of the school. This was especially important to postings overseas.

Transitioning in

Again, groups are dependent on how quickly the children settle into the school and so meetings may only last a couple of weeks. It is an opportunity for the children to talk about the school they have left and find similarities at Hythehill. It is also an opportunity to discuss their friendship needs and the talents and skills they have outside school.

Deployment groups

These can vary in size depending on the number of personnel deployed. In most cases, the groups are age-related unless a family requests time together. The Little Troopers materials are used to support these groups and opportunities to talk and share emotions.

Individual check-ins

Check-ins take place from time to time depending on the work demands of forces personnel and the heightened anxieties of the child or the non-serving parents. Again, these can last for short periods of time or be a longer process.

Family check-ins

Family groups are used for any of the above groups as an additional support for the work being undertaken.

Non-Forces families

Also included in this project are non-Forces families, support is offered for those children whose friends or family members have been posted away, and are experiencing loss.

Post Covid-19 support

An additional group has been identified, primarily P7 girls with military connections, who have lost their confidence and self-esteem during the lockdown situation. This is referred to the ‘Hot Chocolate’ group.

Having this position in Hythehill has added richness of support across the school, and allowed children to engage in their learning, support parents and continue to raise attainment.

More information

For more information or to share your examples of best practice please, contact us.