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Conference Q&A: Day 1 Session 1 Education & Training

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    Our speakers were not able to answer all the questions put to them during the conference due to time constraints, so they have given us their answers in writing. We will add extra responses to questions through time.

    Dr Michael Hall

    Michael. You mentioned ‘stoicism’. To what extent do you think this may be a performance – children’s response to the expectation of stoicism that may be part of accepted wisdom about service children?

    Dr Michael Hall: It is possible that what we see is the enactment of embodied values in the armed forces community, i.e. children demonstrating some of the qualities that are valued in Service life. In this regard the positive values associated with Service life might be argued to function as a protective factor, particularly where children experience multiple relocations or family separation during times of conflict. However, this can lead to the risk of misrecognising children as thriving when they may in fact be simply coping with challenging situations.

    CV writing has always been an issue as has been observed especially for those that have complete a full service. Sometimes it’s difficult to actually remember everything you have done during a long career. Has anybody considered creating a specific CV builder that can be used by service personnel during careers? Appraisals/reports can be attached electronically at unit level and by the end of service there would be a full history. Only thing left to do would be change terminology.

    Dr Michael Hall: Not that I am aware of, but it sounds like it could be a useful idea (with application in other walks of life too).

    I have heard mentioned the term “duty of care”. Do these words have the same meaning as established in tort law?

    Dr Michael Hall: As a non-lawyer I would be reluctant to give a definitive answer, though teachers do have a duty of care towards children as established in law in England – the National Education Union has a helpful briefing on that: https://neu.org.uk/media/596/view

    You mentioned some positive interventions staff at schools can do including having a better understanding of the circumstances of miltary life on children – are there any resources or off the shelf awareness sessions specifically for this? Thank you

    Dr Michael Hall: There is quite a range of organisations (too many to list individually) that offer relevant resources, including (but certainly not limited to) these:

    o A selection of tools and resources available from the Service Children’s Progression Alliance: https://www.scipalliance.org/tools-resources
    o Helpful resources from the Royal Caledonian Education Trust, including recommended reading: https://www.rcet.org.uk/help/we-help-teaching/education-resources/
    o Armed Forces Day – resources for schools: https://www.armedforcesday.org.uk/get-involved/events-toolkits-resources/for-schools/

    As Michael alluded to, it is a source of some frustration to many that the Pupil Premium is not delivered in the same way across the UK. It is unhelpful for assessing its effectiveness. Is anyone on the panel aware of this engagement with the devolved administrations? Exactly what pressure is being put on them to try and harmonise this support?

    Dr Michael Hall: Education is a devolved matter, so it is right that such matters are arranged to reflect differential circumstances in the devolved nations. However, via the SCiP Alliance we are continuing to work across the nations to develop a greater understanding of the situation for Service children.

    Dr Graham Cable & TESRR (Training, Education, Skills, Recruitment and Resettlement)

    Does medical discharge give 5 or 10 years post discharge for claiming ELC [Enhanced Learning Credit]?

    Dr Graham Cable: According to Government information – veterans medically discharged on or after the 1 April 2011 and who receive a disablement pension under the War Pension Scheme, or a guaranteed income payment under the Armed Forces Compensation scheme, will have access to the ELC scheme and FEHE [Further Education and Higher Education] scheme for 10 years after discharge.

    Also, according to the MOD’s ‘Joint Service Publication 534: The Tri-Service Resettlement and Employment Support Manual’:

    421. Transfer to Spouse or Eligible Partner. In exceptional cases, where, for long term medical reasons or a terminal illness prognosis, a SL who is unable to take advantage of the resettlement service to which they are entitled, or as a result of death, this provision, including IRTC, SLC (see para 226) as appropriate and associated travel and subsistence allowances will be made available to the spouse or eligible partner up to 2 years post-discharge or longer at the discretion of the SDE HQ or Medical Discharge Board. ELC entitlements are also transferable in certain cases to an ‘Eligible Partner’ and JSP 822 Part 1 Section 6.5 should be consulted in this respect.

    422. Transfer of Entitlement to a Nominated Proxy (NP). Where a SL, regardless of PStat Cat42, is unlikely to recover sufficiently to be able to utilise their entitlement then it (and applicable remaining ELC and SLC entitlements) may be transferred to a NP. This proxy can be any suitable person (ie it is not restricted to immediate family). This concession is made on the basis that the NP is likely to be a source of ongoing financial support for the SL or the training undertaken will contribute to the long-term care of the individual being medically discharged, and any re-skilling, re-training or study by the NP will in turn help to support and sustain both the SL and their patient group43 in the longer term. The NP will be agreed between the principal Service welfare contact and the SL’s chain of command ensuring that due diligence is undertaken to determine, establish and confirm that the person to whom the transfer is being made is the most appropriate. The SL’s chain of command will inform the relevant SDE of the NP’s details, via the SRA if appropriate. There is no transfer of entitlement to a NP in the event of the SL’s death.

    Further info is also available here.

    TESRR: JSP 822 – Effects of attributable medical discharge on eligibility. SL who have completed initial training and who are medically discharged from Service on or after 1 Nov 10 before achieving the required qualifying service, may be eligible to claim ELC at the Lower Tier. In such cases, the SL must already be a member of the ELC scheme415 and the injury or illness must be wholly or predominantly caused or predominantly worsened by Service. The period in which ELCs must be used is described in paragraph 14. If SL are in receipt of a disablement pension or a guaranteed income payment the period of eligibility is relaxed and they have 10 years after discharge to start their learning.

    Is there a resource base that highlights any educational opportunities for veterans who may have left the Military over 10 years ago?

    Dr Graham Cable: I am afraid I am not aware of any, but my colleagues and I are working on raising awareness among Higher Education institutions (HEIs) as to the largely untapped veteran student and staff resource, and the opportunities that are and will be available to veterans as a result. Some HEIs and many Further Education providers (both public and private) are already aware and actively promoting courses to veterans, eg The Open University who are offering incentives to those that are disabled.

    With low take up for SLC’s – has digitalizing/modernizing the process for applying and claiming been considered? Making it easier for the applicant to claim would likely help a lot, the process is currently prohibitively clunky.

    TESRR: Reform of Learning Credits was being considered in early 2020 but obviously took a back seat during the COVID pandemic. I believe the Future of Learning Credits Working Group will reconvene shortly led by TESRR. The next working group (focus on ELC’s) is scheduled for the end of April 2021.

    How do we speed up the mapping of qualifications to civilian equivalents – particularly in Scotland?

    TESRR: Work is currently underway and progress being made in mapping qualifications to equivalent Scottish civilian qualifications. MoD are collaborating with the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF), MOD’s Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and TESRR.

    The figure you gave for take-up of ELCs (think it was 25%?) – is that for any part-use of ELCs? If so, what percentage of Service Leavers use the FULL amount (x3 years) of ELCs?

    This question has been put to MOD’s Training, Education, Skills, Recruiting and Resettlement experts and we are awaiting an answer.

    Kate McCullough

    Approx. how many of your clients are work ready/out of work?

    Kate McCullough: 286 DTS clients have presented with employment as (one of a number of) key concerns to date.

    How does DTS work within MCTC Colchester? In terms of those being discharged and those being moved to HMP Prisons.

    Kate McCullough: We continue to build a positive relationship with MCTC via our Veterans UK sister organisation, the Veterans Welfare Service (VWS) who has had an active partnership with MCTC for many years. We are currently recruiting a new DTS regional manager who will take on the patch in which MCTC is included. An early priority for the new RM will be to work with VWS to establish the best possible fit within the Veterans UK/MCTC relationship. This will be to essentially support those vulnerable MCTC leavers who are also leaving the military and are not being medically discharged (medical discharges are supported by VWS).

    This question comes from an Australian delegate: Is there a risk that it is mainly members and families entering the transition headspace paying attention to these important aspects, rather than all members and families who should be considering military service within a larger context, viewing the importance of career self-management skills and employability across a lifetime?

    Kate McCullough: Defence’s Holistic Transition Policy (JSP100) recognises the need for through-career preparation and is developing a Lifeskills programme that will be available for Service personnel and their families to access, probably virtually or via an app. This programme will provide key baseline information on subjects such as Housing and Finance. We are in the middle of an ongoing 2-way learning exchange with colleagues in the ADF to understand how we each ‘do’ transition and are learning from each other’s experience and best practice.

    If DTS does not look at medical discharges, how does a medical discharge with housing and employment need get served?

    Kate McCullough: Medical discharges are supported by DTS’s sister organisation, the Veterans Welfare Service (VWS). DTS and VWS sit side by side within Veterans UK and it’s not unusual for clients to be supported by both teams depending on the nuances of their case.

    The comms plan for the roll out of DTS in Autumn 2019 was anonymous. No one in units was aware of it. Do you agree?

    Kate McCullough: DTS is mandated via JSP100, which was launched throughout the military via the usual channels. The single Services are members of the Transition Working Group (TWG) along with myself from DTS and representatives of the policy owners in Armed Forces People Support. The TWG oversees the implementation of the policy. Via the TWG, the sS are mandated to promulgate the messages about the wider policy to their people. DTS is also in the midst of an engagement plan. We initially focussed our efforts on the third and public sectors as the providers of the end services that our clients need and have been building relationships directly with military units. For early 2021/22, we will be focussing our attention on military engagement again to make sure those who can make referrals/refer themselves know who we are, what we do and how they can reach us.

    Can you confirm how long DTS follow up with their clients? was it two years? Reason I ask is that in my lived experience the majority of UK Veterans who become involved with the CJS do so within 5 years.

    Kate McCullough: DTS is mandated to support clients for up to two years post-discharge. Where a veteran comes to us via the Defence Transition Referral Protocol (DTRP) after that date, we won’t turn them away. We will make contact with the individual to understand their needs and facilitate their access to a suitable alternative source of support. As the sister organisation of the Veterans Welfare Service, we make an internal referral to them for those veterans who have been out of the military for longer than two years. VWS provides support to veterans and their families through life for as long as is required.

    What does ‘leaving well’ mean? It sounds like a catch phrase and will be different for everyone so to use this as a measure it needs defining or something measurable. How is this understood?

    Kate McCullough: The rhetoric around ‘leaving well’ became particularly popular on the back of Lord Ashcroft’s Transition Review in 2014, recognising that despite some of the misconceptions around the mental health and wellbeing of veterans (“mad, bad and sad”) most in fact leave the military and resettle into civilian life into a place that they are satisfied with. As you say, the definition of a successful transition will vary person to person but most people find a new lifestyle that works for them. For DTS, we define ‘leaving well’ according to each client’s needs, ambition, vision and capacity to help them meet their own personal potential at a pace and in a way that’s right for them, as defined by them. We measure this by capturing where they are at the point they come into our service, identifying their issues and where they want to get to and then checking in with them to see how close they get to that desired end point.

    General Questions

    Unfortunately GDPR does not allow service charities to directly contact our vulnerable leavers to explain in detail what services we can provide. How do we get round this?

    Kate McCullough: DTS would love to hear from any organisation that can support vulnerable Service leavers so that we know who you are, what you do and how we can facilitate our clients’ access to your support if it’s something they feel would benefit them. A key responsibility of DTS’s is to simplify and streamline access to support to help take away the pressure for our clients of understanding the complex plethora of support organisations in the market. To do this, we are constantly reviewing our ‘little black book’ and welcome conversations with new partners.

    Research from Help for Heroes suggests that mental health issues aren’t becoming an issue for up to 4 years post transition. How can we revise the transition period to be able to support people after this time?

    Kate McCullough: Veterans Welfare Service supports clients throughout their lives regardless of the time since discharge from the military. This includes facilitating access to mental health support from both the NHS (Op COURAGE in England and various in the other nations) and the third sector.

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