Step 4: Emotional cycle of separation and loss

“The Scottish Government is aware that Armed Forces children are a particular group that may face challenges that affect their mental wellbeing, and should they need support, school counselling will provide a quicker, more effective response”

– The Armed Forces Covenant Report 2019, page 48

Increasing awareness of the emotional cycle of separation and loss, for example, deployment or mobility, is important in understanding the possible impact at various developmental stages for Armed Forces children.

Deployment is when Armed Forces personnel are on assigned duties, such as operations, combat, training or ceremonial. This could be anything from one to 12 months and repeated within a short space of time. The strain placed on family life can have an impact on the education and wellbeing of children. Communication with families is not always possible, can be limited, and may be only one way.

Weekending is when personnel are on duty away from home and return, when possible, for periods of time. It is important to understand the effect this may have on children and young people and family life. Weekending may occur in regular short intervals, over prolonged periods of time, or be sporadic and unanticipated due to Duty First.


Making sense of the emotional cycle of deployment

This document from Naval Family Federation provides information on the cycle of separation and loss.

Loss, Change and Separation – Angus case study

Angus Council’s sustainable resource, Loss, Change and Separation, is available to all schools on a lending basis. It provides support for children and young people during times of transition and loss to mitigate the effects of exceptional mobility and deployment. Download the pdf case study on how this resource can be used.

Reflective questions

  1. To what extent are you aware of the children from Armed Forces families in your establishment?
  1. What provision do you make for children and young people who are being affected by separation? What additional arrangements need to be considered for the parent who is away from home?
  1. To what extent are you aware of your school’s critical incident policy and procedures?
  1. What is in place to support children and young people from Armed Forces families when their close family member is injured or killed on duty?
  1. What is in place to support staff when their close family member is deployed, posted abroad, or if they are injured or killed on duty?