A boost for research into the challenges military families face

December 12, 2023

The Trust has awarded over £169,000 to three projects, from across the UK, under the Armed Forces Families Fund: Research Grants programme.

These projects will develop a stronger understanding of complex educational or welfare issues affecting Armed Forces families – and propose solutions.

Utilising lived experience to inform practice and understanding

Oxford Brookes University were awarded £60,000 for their project, ‘Supporting All to thrive’. The project will enhance understanding of how Service life affects the educational opportunities, experiences and outcomes of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

It will take a comprehensive and holistic approach, exploring the detail of children’s and families’ educational journeys and everyday experiences alongside statistical analysis of national attainment data.

Close collaboration with key organisations, that support and advocate for Service children and families, will make sure the project uses lived experience with the findings directly informing practice.

Additionally, a research toolkit will enhance the project partners’ capacity for data collection. Looking ahead, the evidence and recommendations from this project will translate into more carefully targeted resources, a better-informed and more confident workforce, and strengthened policies and provision. The ultimate aim is to foster an environment in which all Service children and families thrive.

Dr Claire Lee, Research Fellow at Oxford Brookes, Centre for Psychological Research said: “What is exciting about this project is that it combines a clear picture of how well Service children with SEND are doing educationally, with a rich understanding of their lived experiences – not only their challenges and potential disadvantage, but also what helps them to thrive.”

Service children helped to reach their full potential

The University of Chester received £59,894 for their project, ‘Service children’s transitions in education’. The project will investigate the educational risks and benefits associated with Service children’s transitions. It will explore the lived experience of Service parents and children in conjunction with investigating the challenges associated with transitions, to determine in what ways educational risks can be mitigated.   

University of Chester received funding to complete a study around Service children's education transitions

The study will be completed by Service family academic staff working at the University of Chester’s Westminster Centre for Research in Veterans. Their experiences of regular moves and the educational impact on children will help provide a deep personal insight into the issues and will assist in reaching and engaging with fellow parents and their children.

Professor Alan Finnegan, the Principal Investigator, said: “Due to my military Service, my youngest daughter went to her fifth school when aged just 9 years old, and the impact of these constant moves is a story that needs to be explored further.  

As an Armed Forces Community research team, we are extremely grateful to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust for funding this incredibly important study. Most importantly, the research will provide a vehicle to clearly show to Service families that the best education for their children is of paramount importance. This study provides an opportunity for Service parents and children to shape and inform future policy, in both the short and long term, to help Service children reach their full potential.”

Exploring the impact of deployment

Finally, Bath Spa were awarded £49,729 for their ‘Early Years and Parental Deployment’ project.

This project will explore the impact of parental deployment on the wellbeing and educational experiences of UK Service children aged three- to-four-years from Naval, Army and RAF families. Their research will explore effective policies and practices for these children and highlight areas for development.

Find out more

Discover more about this Research programme and the projects supported, on our dedicated programme page.

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