At your service

TWO Ripon Grammar School sixth formers from military families have set up a club to support younger students with parents in the Armed Forces.

Pupils from service families often face the upheaval of changing schools, alongside parents being posted away for months at a time, sometimes in conflict zones.

Maddy Cann and Freddie Dunn, whose fathers were both in the RAF, want to help support such students through challenging times while ensuring they get the best possible experience from school while at RGS.

“I really hope we can have a positive impact on these students who, despite the difficult current situation and tricky start to the school year, are incredibly positive and enthusiastic.

“I know when I was in their position, I really appreciated any extra support, and the knowledge that there are people helping you.”

Maddy, whose father is an ex-RAF pilot, explained how she joined RGS in Year 9, having attended seven other schools throughout the UK and in Spain.

“Being a service student can mean any number of additional challenges when it comes to education: it is easy to skip entire basic topics when moving schools. Each new school means you have to make new friends and lose old ones.

“Added to this we have the constant worry if a parent is posted. Besides having a higher risk daily job than most parents, a mum or dad in the military regularly face deployment into areas of conflict or nearby countries for six-nine months at a time, which is incredibly difficult to deal with.”

She explained how her friends and teachers were a huge support throughout her school life: “However, I can really appreciate the difference it makes to talk to someone who ‘gets it’, as although friends are an amazing support network for most students, they often can’t understand exactly what someone is going through.

“I hope that through this club, creating a safe space for students to form new friendships or chat to us about any worries, or just simply enjoy themselves, we can provide some extra support for service students at times like this, when they may be feeling isolated or stressed.

So far, 12 students have signed up to the club, which meets every other Monday and, among other things, enjoy playing games such as basketball: “We have decided to focus on Year 7 and 8 students as they are in a ‘bubble’ and are also perhaps the most in need of support at this time.”