Supporting the educational wellbeing of armed forces children

At Forces Children Scotland,we hear from the children, families, and professionals we work with that growing up in an armed forces family involves unique experiences and at times challenges not generally shared by civilian families. A recent literature review, funded by Forces Children Scotland and carried out by Strathclyde University, explored existing research on the experiences and educational outcomes of armed forces children. The report confirmed that frequent mobility and parental deployment pose challenges for the education and mental health and wellbeing of children in armed forces families.

Resonating with Forces Children Scotland’s belief that these challenges cannot be addressed by one organisation or service working in isolation, the report concluded that ‘an integrated, collaborative approach is required to support the educational wellbeing of armed forces children’ and made several recommendations across three main areas: training and awareness, resources and programmes, and further research and data collection.

Training and awareness

The report highlighted the need for greater awareness of the challenges facing armed forces children and their families. It recommended training to ensure teachers, school counsellors, nurses and social workers understand the educational and mental health and wellbeing needs of this unique cohort to better support their needs.  This strongly resonates with the views of the children and young people we work with who have spoken about a lack of awareness and understanding of their experiences amongst those working to support them.

Resources and programmes 

The report recommended implementation of school-based programmes to help address the unique challenges faced by armed forces children alongside the provision of educational resources for armed forces families to support children at home. It also recommended that initiatives should extend beyond education to involve the development of mental health services to support the specific needs of armed forces children and their families. Crucially, the report highlighted the importance of making sure armed forces children and their families are fully involved in the development of programmes and initiatives, a finding that very much accords with Forces Children Scotland’s commitment to co-production across our work.

Further research and data collection 

Finally, the report concluded that to better understand and support the experiences and challenges of armed forces children there is a pressing need for further research and data collection.  Resonating with Forces Children Scotland’s calls for national collection for armed forces children, the report specifically highlighted the need for accurate records of armed forces children at each stage of education, research exploring the educational attainment of armed forces children compared to their civilian peers, and accurate monitoring of the educational progress of armed forces children at a national level.  

Next steps

Forces Children Scotland is carrying out much work around these recommendations including awareness raising, development of training and resources, and development of mental health and wellbeing support models for armed forces children and their families.  We are excited to take this work forward in partnership with armed forces children, families, and organisations and services from across the children’s and military sectors.

A copy of the full research report can be found online here. For further information please email Sarah Rogers at