Give armed forces families £300 grant as a pupil premium for education
Armed Forces personnel from HM Naval Base Clyde.
By Democrat reporter
Scottish Liberal Democrats have today called for the Scottish Government to introduce a new armed forces pupil premium, worth hundreds of pounds, in recognition of the disruption that can be caused to the education of Service families and because they may require additional mental health and pastoral support.
There are thought to be around 2,500 children of Service personnel living in Scotland. The proposal would see the Scottish Government at least match the £300 per child of service personnel paid to schools in England if the Liberal Democrats get their way.
Beneficiaries would include the children of the Armed Forces personnel at HM Naval Base Clyde, Faslane and Coulport.
Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP said: “Many young people with parents in the armed forces are forced to chop and change between schools as they move around for their parents’ work. It can be seriously disruptive to their schoolwork, and school life.
“The worry of having a parent away in a dangerous place for a long time, or worse dying for their country, means they often need extra support.
“It’s absolutely wrong that the children of our armed service men and women face barriers in education. The Liberal Democrats want to remedy that through a new Armed Forces Pupil Premium so that those young people can get the extra help they need with their mental health as well as their work.
“Liberal Democrats introduced the Pupil Premium elsewhere in the UK, and the SNP Government eventually agreed to adopt it in Scotland too. Now we need to make sure it works for everyone. That means also introducing the extra help that was made available to armed forces families in England years ago, thanks to the Liberal Democrats. It is part of the Military Covenant and our commitment to treat them fairly.
“We owe the members of our army, navy and RAF a huge debt. An Armed Forces Pupil Premium would help close the attainment gap and ensure their children get the support they need.”
Labour’s Jackie Baillie MSP, left, said: “Armed forces pupils in Scotland should attract the same funding available to armed forces pupils in England, particularly as their parents transfer to Faslane. The transition to new schools can be difficult and the funding will help the school with pastoral care.
“It’s really disappointing that the SNP refuse to support service children and their families in this way. I would urge them to rethink their opposition to the pupil premium in Scotland.”
The SNP have been invited to comment but have made no response. One anonymous SNP supporter did say, however: “There are a lot of other children who could do with £300 premium to help them with their education, and not just the offspring of parents in the services.”