Armed Forces Mobility Co-ordinator
At St.Mary's about a third of our children are from forces families - we have a dedicated co-ordinator to help children and their families settle into school life and life in Albrighton! Her name is Mrs Annette Ashwell. Mrs Ashwell served 22 years in the Royal Air Force and her husband also served in the Royal Air Force for 31 years, so she has had experience with the intricacies that can sometimes arise with families of serving personnel.
Have you heard of www.readingforce.org.uk - its a terrific opportunity to read books together as a family coping with deployment or separation and scrapbook about them. You can register with them online and claim your free book.
We have strong links with RAF Cosford and we are a dedicated team at St Mary's, with adults available for children to talk to about anything that is troubling them. Mrs Ashwell provides specific support to nurture your child when you arrive and also to help them cope when you are deployed or posted in/out. If you need to make contact with her she is available at the following email address when she can arrange a meeting.
Mr Mahy, our Deputy Headteacher and Mrs Ashwell run a free club on Tuesdays, our 'Spitfire Club' in the Year 5 classroom over the lunch period. We encourage our Armed Forces pupils to develop new friendships in our Spitfire Club and they can invite civilian class friends to join them.
There has been some debate about whether Reception children should join us in the Spitfire Club. The general feeling is that it may be overwhelming to allow this in the first half of the school year with children learning so many rules at the beginning of "big" school. However, every force's child is welcome and if you feel that your Reception child would benefit from coming to the Spitfire Club please encourage them to come along.
We allocate Forces Premium money to pay for resources for the club and have some really fun stuff to play with. The club accommodates play for all ages with board games, card games, lego play and lots of colouring in. We try to encourage game play that includes others so children are making friends and interacting without realising it. We encourage our Spitfires to bring along a friend to experience the club too - this helps to develop solid school friendships away from the camp and gives the civilian children an opportunity to ask questions and experience the Club for themselves.
This is not a compulsory club and we don't enforce attendance because some children prefer to run around with their friends in the sunshine at lunchtime instead. It's great to see familiar faces and just as nice to welcome new ones but we think that if a child forgets to come because they are playing with their new friends outside then that is the best reason not to come!
Please let us know if you are due a deployment or a posting so we can help.
We appreciate that deployment information is sensitive so we don't need to know anything specific other than the period of time you will be deployed away for so we can provide extra support for your child and keep staff informed. Mrs Ashwell likes to have a meeting with the spouse being left behind to find out if there is anything specific she can do to help. This normally results in bespoke coping resources like chuff charts, behaviour charts, diaries etc being designed for the child - right down to their favourite colours and cartoon or computer characters.
If you give Mrs Ashwell any details to contact you with she can scan any pictures your child creates for you and attach them to an email. It can make a big difference to your child knowing they have a quick way to contact their deployed parent and it can also cheer you up too! Please bear in mind that this role is always evolving. We would like to develop how we support children when they are posted away but without prior knowledge of the impending posting we are unable to put the sorts of things we would like to do into place, so please let Mrs Ashwell know.
In particular, we have a short fact finding mission booklet for your child to fill in asking questions of their NEW school before they leave. The idea is that you fill it in at home, asking any questions about the new school and you hand it back to us so we send it off to them. Your new teacher fills in the answers and they send it back to us and we give it back to you.
Click here for MY NEW SCHOOL FACT FINDING MISSION PACK.
We also have a little form that allows parents the chance to tell us what they thought of their time here.
Click here for the OH NO, YOU'RE POSTED FEEDBACK FORM
Is there something you'd like us to do that we haven't mentioned? We are always open to ideas and requests because this role is designed to help and we are keen to tailor it to your needs and expectations.