National Transitions Officer Update #8

As we welcome Mental Health Awareness Week (10–17 May) it is helpful to take account of some themes that may impact Armed Forces families and children. Much focus and activity currently, centres on action plans to support Covid-recovery, inoculation of the Scottish and UK population, easing of restrictions, and our wintry introduction to Spring.

  • Schools and their staff continue to offer day-to-day engagement, support, teaching and learning with children and young people.
  • Teachers are delighted to interact with learners one-to-one to identify any gaps in learning and address them.
  • Schools encourage families to raise any issues around connectivity/digital devices so they might be appropriately and directly addressed.
  • Learners continue to struggle with lack of clarity, unsure of the future, living in a time of uncertainty.

While all of society has been touched by the Covid-19 pandemic, the impact on our young people is disproportionate given the time they have had away from schools, without their usual routines, and separated from their peer groups. For them, this marks an important developmental and educational stage in their lives. The term ‘lost learning’ is being used frequently by the media, which is not particularly helpful. While academic elements can be shared and developed with support given to young people around their academic progress (acknowledging this is important) there are additional aspects of concern. There is an essential priority to focus on mental and physical health, wellbeing, and socialisation. If quality opportunities for improving wellbeing are offered, academic success will develop as teachers provide structures to support learners within school settings. If wellbeing improves, the rest will follow.

Armed Forces families may experience additional challenges related to mobility, transition, isolation, deployment, and separation. These children and families in transitions may also lack opportunities to develop relationships with teachers, educators, and peers, which are necessary to fully engage in a positive learning journey.

I hope you and your family continue to stay healthy and safe.

Carolyn MacLeod, MBE
National Transitions Officer, ADES


  1. The Forces Children’s Education website and social media 
  2. Protecting the UK and Promoting a Global Britain Tri-Service
  3. Message from Edinburgh Garrison Commander 
  4. Army Engagement Team – Virtual Broadcast Event  
  5. MOD – Education Support Fund – 2022 
  6. Scottish Armed Forces Education Support Group
  7. Armed Forces Covenant Legislation – update 
  8. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 
  9. Research – Armed Forces Families & Children
  10. Armed Forces Covenant Fund – Forces for Change 
  11. Service Children Progression Alliance (SCiP) – Thriving Lives toolkit Webinar for schools. 
  12. Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) – research 
  13. Welcome to Scotland: A guide for Service Personnel and their families moving to Scotland 
  14. Resources

Get in touch

Carolyn MacLeod MBE is the National Transitions Officer for Children and Young People of Armed Forces families in Scottish Schools, Association of Directors of Education Scotland 

Email Carolyn
or call 07931 565961 

Social media

A screengrab of the Forces Children's Education Twitter feed

To complement this website, we have created social media accounts on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and we would love it if you reached out to us. You can find us on any of these platforms by searching Forces Children’s Education or by using the links below: 

We would welcome any suggestion on the content and what you would like to see on these pages going forward and would be delighted if you shared the details with your contacts. 

Information on the Tri-Service (Royal Navy, Army & RAF) 

Source: Ministry of Defence

Protecting the UK and promoting a Global BritainHM Armed Forces protect the UK from state-based and terrorist threats. Updated: 8 April 2021

“Our UK Armed Forces have a long-standing world-class reputation and continue to defend and deter danger against the British people, our interests, and our allies. We have personnel stationed around the world stopping terrorism, keeping sea lanes open and delivering humanitarian aid. The expertise and experience of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces allow them to operate in every domain on land, at sea, in the air, in space and in cyberspace. 

“As one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the UK has particular responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. By maintaining a global presence in uncertain and testing times, the UK Armed Forces are a force for good on the world stage, providing constant stability and security and are above all, keeping Britain safe.” 

Royal Navy 

The Royal Navy routinely patrols UK waters, ready to respond to terrorist, economical or international threats. Our Fishery Protection Squadron, Fleet Ready Escort and supporting tanker fleet with associated aviation and Royal Marines, all held at high readiness, remain poised, 24/7/365 to respond to all direct threats to the UK, and of course, our submarine force is charged with operating the independent nuclear deterrent on behalf of the nation. 


During the last year, the British Army sent around 40,000 soldiers abroad, contributing to NATO through Enhanced Forward Presence or exercises such as Trident Juncture, as well as conducting signature high profile exercises with non-NATO partners such as Oman during SAIF SAREEA 3. Our commitment to countering violent extremism and stabilisation in Iraq and Afghanistan remains undiminished with over a thousand troops enduringly committed to those operations. At home, troops are also ready at longer notice to support the Civil Authorities in almost any way, including during unexpected natural events such as flooding. 

Royal Air Force

Through their Quick Reaction Alert capability the RAF continuously has Typhoon fighter jets, refuelling tankers, helicopters, and other aircraft ready to deter aggression or respond to terrorist attacks. 

Message: Edinburgh Garrison Commander

I don’t think many families have found the last year easy and Forces families have had much the same experience (and I suspect the same opinion) of home learning as parents across Scotland.

A sense of relief and a revitalised sense of respect for our educators have accompanied our children’s return to full-time education, but I recognise that, for educators, the challenges of schooling in a COVID compliant manner will be accompanied by pressure to recover lost ground and the emotional and mental health fallout from lockdown.

Throughout this pandemic, the Armed Forces in Scotland have had to adapt to sustain their critical missions, whether its submariners from Faslane maintaining the UK’s at sea deterrent, aircrews from Lossiemouth intercepting incursions into our airspace over the North Sea or 2 SCOTS soldiers training the Afghan Forces in Kabul.

They have also been heavily committed in support of the Scottish healthcare services – my own COVID vaccine was given to me by an Army Medic who was supporting the NHS at Gorebridge Leisure Centre – and now that our support (titled Operation RESCRIPT) is drawing down, we’re very proud to have had a part to play. For everyone, a sense of uncertainty has been a prominent, and unsettling feature of the pandemic.

It is extraordinarily difficult to plan ahead, and difficult to settle into a satisfactory regime when life is so uncertain. It’s worth remembering that, for many Forces families, uncertainty is the norm: navy families may not know where their serving partner is for long periods of a deployment; families from 3 SCOTS had mentally prepared themselves for serving partners to deploy to Afghanistan in 2021, but this seems likely to change; and as always, service children in their final term at a school in England will move to Scotland this Summer to a new school, new curriculum and new friends. We’re used to this and Service life has plenty of positives too, but as everyone has discovered in the last year, it can still be unsettling to live with ongoing uncertainty.

As life starts to return (hopefully!) to normal and the future becomes more predictable for the rest of society, I am extremely grateful to the educational community for the part they play in helping our families to manage this perpetual uncertainty so that we can be there when society needs us. 

Edinburgh Garrison Commander, The Castle, Edinburgh EH1 2YT 

Q&A with the Army Engagement Team

Live virtual broadcast event with the Army Engagement Team on Thursday, 27 May at 1100 – 1200

Colonel Sandy Fitzpatrick MBE, Deputy Commander HQ 51 Infantry Brigade and HQ Scotland is hosting a Live Virtual Broadcast Event and Q&A with the Army Engagement Team. The aim of this live broadcast is to provide greater awareness and understanding of the British Army.

Whatever your background, the British Army is ‘Your Army’ and the purpose of this event is simply to give you a better understanding of how it serves the country. The presentation includes current information on how the Army is supporting the Government’s response to the current Coronavirus pandemic.

With live questions, you can find out how the British Army is serving our nation. The event includes a dynamic 20 min presentation and a Q&A session where guests can submit live questions to Col Sandy Fitzpatrick.

Please feel free to share this invitation with colleagues and your networks.

Education Support Fund 2022 launch

Armed Forces Families & Safeguarding (AFFS) is delighted to announce that the 2022 MOD Education Support Fund (ESF) bidding round is now open.

This year the ESF has £3 million to award, and applications can be accepted from state schools, free schools, and academies in the UK with Service pupils on roll. Applicants will be asked to provide evidence of the exceptional impact of mobility and/or separation and how the funding would help mitigate the effects.

The bidding round is now open and will remain open until Thursday 30 September 2021. For more details please refer to the ESF application pack on

PDF copies of ESF instructions & guidance, in-year bids, and poster are available from the Resources section.

Contact: Nicole Gordon, Armed Forces Families & Safeguarding

Education Support Group

More information on the Scottish Government’s Scottish Armed Forces Education Support Group (SAFESG) and copies of their meeting notes are available on the Scottish Government website.

SAFESG group members

  • Scottish Government (SG) Learning Directorate (Chair)
  • SG Armed Forces & Veterans Group (VAFPU)
  • MOD Armed Forces Families & Safeguarding (AFFS) – (formerly DCYP)
  • Armed Forces Children’s Education Lead HQ 51st Infantry Brigade & HQ Scotland
  • Education Scotland (ES)
  • ADES Adviser
  • ADES National Transitions Officer (NTO)
  • MOD Royal Navy (RN)
  • MOD Army
  • Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET)
  • COSLA 

New Covenant legislation 

The UK government is further incorporating the Armed Forces Covenant into law as part of the Armed Forces Bill 2021, to help prevent the disadvantage faced by the Armed Forces Community due to the unique nature of service in the Armed Forces.

The new legislation, which is currently going through Parliament and is expected to come into force in 2022, is designed to increase awareness of – and, in turn, improve the delivery of – the Covenant in the key areas of housing, education and healthcare. It will introduce a new statutory duty for relevant public bodies (such as local authorities and healthcare providers) to have due regard to the Covenant when making decisions and setting policy in those key areas.

It is very good news. For many public bodies it won’t mean a massive change as many Local Authorities are already doing their bit for the AF Covenant but it should galvanise the few who are not. Here is an extract from the government news release:

The Armed Forces Bill will embed the Armed Forces Covenant into law by introducing a legal duty for relevant UK public bodies to have due regard to the principles of the Covenant, a pledge to ensure the UK Armed Forces community is treated fairly.

Focusing on healthcare, housing and education, it will increase awareness among public bodies of the unique nature of military service, improving the level of service for members of the armed forces community, no matter where in the UK they live.

For more information see the UK Government website.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

“The commencement of the new legislation means that the legal rights of children will change when they cross the Scottish border from, and to, other parts of the UK, and to be meaningful this requires to be made clear to young people and their families when they move.” 

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Scotland is to become the first devolved nation in the world to directly incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into domestic law (16 Mar 2021). 

The UNCRC sets out the specific rights that all children have, to help fulfil their potential, including rights relating to health and education, leisure and play, fair and equal treatment, protection from exploitation and the right to be heard (16 Mar 2021). 

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: 

“This is a landmark Bill which is the most significant piece of legislation since devolution, delivering a revolution in children’s rights. That is a major cause for celebration. 

“The Bill will deliver the highest protection possible for children’s rights across Scotland within the powers of this Parliament and ensure that a rights-respecting approach is at the heart of our recovery from the pandemic…”

Research: Armed Forces families & children 

The Impact of Service Life on the Military Child: Summary report Godier-McBard, L., Wood, A, and Fossey, M., (2021).

In 2009 the Royal Navy Royal Marines Children’s Fund (now known as the Naval Children’s Charity [NCC]) published the Overlooked Casualties of Conflict Report. A new report was commissioned by the Naval Children’s Charity with the aim of considering the changes in the research landscape and to assess the opinions of a range of key stakeholders, subsequent to the original publication in 2009.

Acknowledgments: The authors wish to thank all of the subject matter experts (SMEs) who participated in the interviews for this research, from the following organisations: Cheriton Primary School, Directorate Children and Young People Service, Naval Families Federation, Royal Caledonian Education Trust, Royal Navy Family and People Support, Service Children’s Progression Alliance and the National Transitions Officer, Scotland (ADES).

The report is available online at the Naval Children’s Charity website.

Additional Support Needs

UK military families with a dependent who has Special Education Needs and/or Disability (SEND): a forgotten sub-population? Sean Taylor- Beirne, N T Fear

The article, written by Capt Sean Taylor-Beirne, published in the British Medical Journal, Military health recognises the need for further research into the experiences of UK Military families with a dependent who has a SEND (additional need). Published 4 March 2021, you can download a PDF of the article here.

This highlights the good work and momentum building behind the requirement for further research in the area, to enable a better understanding of the lived experience and learning outcomes for these children and families. Key recommendations for future research are identified within the article and supports the need to be able to identify our Armed Forces’ children.

NOTE: Wendy Quinn (NFF) Families Engagement Officer, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, is mentioned as a collaborator on this research.

Forces for Change

This programme, from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund, will award grants of up to £10,000 for community projects that reduce isolation and promote integration; supporting post-Covid recovery in local Armed Forces communities affected by isolation.

To be eligible to apply, your organisation must be one of the following.

  • A registered charity or Community Interest Company (CIC) with substantial recent experience of supporting Armed Forces communities and have been registered for at least one year at the time of your application
  • An Armed Forces unit or base
  • A local authority
  • A school.

The round two application deadline is midday on 2 August 2021. Find out more

More information will be included in ADES Funding Guide Scotland 2021-2022 (May 2021).

Service Children’s Progression Alliance – Webinar

The evidence-based Thriving Lives toolkit explains the seven principles of effective support for young people from Armed Forces families and provides schools with self-reflection questions linked to further guidance, case studies and resources. The Royal Caledonian Education Trust and the ADES National Transitions Officer (NTO) will co-lead a teacher conference on 3 and 10 June explaining how schools can use the toolkit to help their Armed Forces children thrive.

3 June 2021: 1530-1730

  • Setting the scene – The Educational Landscape in Scotland
  • The Service Children’s Progression Alliance (SCiP) and Thriving Lives
  • Understanding Service children’s lives and how the Alliance helps
  • How schools can use the Thriving Lives toolkit to help children from Armed Forces families thrive
  • Question & answer

10 June 2021: 1530-1730

  • Thriving Lives – drilling down to using the Toolkit
  • Who can help schools help young people from Armed Forces families to thrive
  • Case study workshops
  • Alignment between HGIOS 4 and the Thriving Lives toolkit
  • How Children and Young People plan to be involved in Principle 5
  • School context
  • Question & Answer

Register for the Thriving Lives webinars. If you have any questions please contact Moira Leslie, Education Programme Officer, RCET by email, or call 01381 620 412.

Forces in Mind Trust

New research aims to understand lived experience of non-UK Service personnel and their families. The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded £146,000 to Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) to undertake research to understand the lived experience of Non-UK Service personnel, ex-Service personnel and their families.

This will provide an evidence base required to make changes to better support this group and their transition to civilian life. The proposal was developed with the backing of The Confederation of Service Charities (Cobseo) Non-UK Cluster Group, co-chaired by the Army Families Federation and the Royal British Legion.

As of April 2020, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) recorded 6650 Personnel with a Non-UK nationality. This will put Non-UK communities at the centre of the research and will engage extensively with them to capture their experiences and views through focus groups and interviews.

More information is available here.

Welcome to Scotland

Welcome to Scotland: a guide for service personnel and their families moving to Scotland, has been published providing practical information to service personnel and their families on topics such as housing, education, healthcare and employment.


There are several newsletters and resources being produced that may contain material of interest to you.

  • The Army Families’ Federation (AFF) have published their annual report from 2020. A snapshot of the report is available here and the full report is at this link.
  • This spring AFF are focusing on Education and Childcare and the issues that affect an Army family. Focus will be on funding for childcare, moving schools, home-schooling and what to do if you’re not happy with the school place you’ve been given. Look on social media for info and top tips on important issues affecting your children
  • Argyll & Bute Council – Armed Forces Children & Young People: Facebook: Service Pupil Advisor Helensburgh & Lomond. Find out more.
  • Highland Council – Military Liaison Group (Education) – MLG. Find out more.
  • The Royal Caledonian Education Trust Education Programme.
  • SSCE Wales – Supporting Service Children in Education. Find out more.
  • ADES – Forces Children’s Education on social media

Note: this newsletter is compiled for distribution across the ADES National Transitions Officer networks, these include ADES, Directors of Education, Local Authority Lead Officers for armed forces families, Headteachers, Scottish Government, COSLA, Education Scotland, partnership groups in education and related professions, MOD Directorate Children and Young People (DCYP), MOD in Scotland (Tri-Service), Family Federations, RCET and other charity partnerships, colleagues across jurisdictions.

Hopefully, this information will be of interest and helpful to you in your support for children and young people of Armed Forces families (Regular, Reserve & Veterans/ex-Service) in Scottish schools.