MOD pledge to Harestock Service children

Harestock Primary School has benefited from MOD funding of innovative projects to make sure that the children of Service personnel are not disadvantaged by moving to different schools.

This month Harestock Primary School will by one of 139 schools nationally to receive a share of the first £3m allocated to schools by the MOD under the Support for State Schools Fund.

The funding is one of the key commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant and is made via the Support for State Schools Fund which was started by the MOD in 2011 and will run for four years.

Harestock was eligible to apply for the grant as a result of the significant proportion of its children (between 16 – 20%) who are from families where a parent or carer serves in the Armed Forces and are affected by either mobility or deployment. The MOD invited applications for funding in summer 2011 and, having submitted a comprehensive and detailed application, Harestock were delighted to hear that they were one of the successful schools.

The school will use the fund to provide both resources for children, from which the whole school will benefit, and support for children and Service Families. The MOD press release in relation to the funding even mentioned Harestock's application saying: "Harestock Primary School in Winchester has been awarded a grant of £40,000 to help fund a support worker to act as the focal point for Service families within the school, counselling for Service families with an absent parent, and materials for welcome packs to support the integration of recently-arrived Service families into the school community."

Lynda Fisher, Director of the MOD's Children and Young People Directorate, said: "We know that moving from one school to another can be a challenging time for the children of serving personnel and this £3m fund has been set up to help mitigate some of the effects of moving away from familiar surroundings. The money will allow schools to provide measures to ensure children of Service families do not suffer any disadvantage by moving to or through different school systems."

Steve Brine, who set up a Parliamentary Group to examine this following his visit to Harestock Primary School, said: "I am delighted that Harestock has been successful in this MOD funding, and I know how much of a boon this will be to staff and parents. More widely, this area is certainly something we need to take very seriously, and I am looking forward to reporting back to Harestock following our work in the House of Commons."

The funding announcement came only a few months after Harestock participated in the national charity "tenforten" day marking ten years of the involvement of the UK's Armed Forces in Afghanistan. The day saw the whole school community finding out more about life in a Service Family with various displays and activities put on by the school's own Service Families and the local units at Worthy Down and ATFC(W).

Jackie Sankey, head teacher of Harestock Primary school, said: "We are delighted to be awarded the funding. Some of our children have been to between 3 – 7 schools before arriving at Harestock and we already do all we can to help them settle in and reach their potential. This funding will enable us to do even more. We value the diversity of our school community and the experiences which our Service Families bring to the school and look forward to seeing the benefit for the whole school community of the additional resources and support which this funding will enable us to provide."

Pictured; Harestock children enjoy an assembly with a difference

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