North Yorkshire County Council has commissioned a theatre project which is touring schools to help pupils affected by troop movements to develop resilience at a time of major change for the armed forces.
The impact of the drawdown of troops from Germany and the closure of all Ministry of Defence Schools there, as well as other military mobilisation, means that schools in North Yorkshire will have to manage significant numbers of children coming and going.
During this year through to late 2016, in the region of 6,000 troops will be coming into the county and about 4,500 will be moving out. These major moves will impact on all schools that serve the units based at Catterick Garrison and its outstations such as Dishforth and Ripon’s Claro Barracks.
This period of turbulence has the potential to be unsettling for many children in affected schools. As a result, the county council has commissioned Invisible Man Theatre Company to develop an interactive drama to help primary school children aged 7-11 to cope with the changes associated with such significant troop mobility.
The project also aims to encourage civilian pupils to appreciate the challenges faced by the children of our Armed Forces when they are posted. In addition, it aims to encourage schools to reflect on their policies and procedures for dealing with pupil mobility.
The drama performance, which is called “Wherever Home Is”, is funded through the MOD’s Education Support Fund for State Schools. It will be delivered in 20 primary schools throughout the county from next week to the end of May. It will then tour four primary schools in the Hohne Garrison area of Germany.
The theatre company has undertaken a considerable amount of research to create “Wherever Home Is”, visiting schools in both Catterick and Germany, and working with groups of children, parents and staff who have contributed their knowledge and feelings about the subject.
This is the second time that the county council has worked with Invisible Man Theatre’s artistic director Stephen Burke. Previously the company put together a play called “You Only Live Once” about a Service teenager, which was aimed at secondary schools and tackled a range of risky behaviours that teenagers can be tempted into.
Matt Blyton, the county council’s lead adviser for the education of Service pupils, said many of North Yorkshire’s schools are well versed in supporting pupils through transition, and it is hoped the new theatre project will help to develop further the emotional resilience of those involved, both pupils and school staff.
Matt added: This theatre project is intended to provide a positive and empowering experience for children, enabling both Service and ‘civilian’ children to talk about and explore what it feels like to start and leave new schools, often many times over.
The interactive drama is to be followed by a series of class-based exercises and activities which will encourage children to reflect on the action and to share their ideas about how the drama can conclude.