A group of eight young people, aged between 13 and 19 years, all bereaved of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces, visited Mrs Murty, wife of the Prime Minister, at 10 Downing Street to discuss their ideas to make a positive change within the education system.

The young adults are all members of Scotty’s Little Soldiers, a charity dedicated to supporting children and young people (0 – 25 years) who have experienced the death of a military parent. Inspired by the experience of Army widow Nikki Scott, following the death of her husband Cpl Lee Scott in Afghanistan in 2009, the charity provides support and guidance to hundreds of bereaved military children and young people throughout their childhood.

The members of Scotty’s Little Soldiers that visited Downing Street are part of Scotty’s Council, which is a small group of beneficiaries who provide a voice for bereaved military children and young people. During their visit, they spoke openly and honestly about some of the challenges they have experienced during their education journey.

They talked about how they understand more than most the importance of covering topics like war and death in the curriculum, but expressed their desire to work with the Department for Education to ensure that schools and teachers are given appropriate guidance so they can support students in the classroom who may have experienced bereavement.

They also discussed how hard it can be to open an exam paper and unexpectedly see a question related to death and war. Something like this can be very triggering and if it’s an exam such as GCSEs or A Levels, can have a negative impact on their achievement.

19-year-old Joshua Kirkham’s dad, LCpl Christopher Bradshaw, served a tour in Afghanistan and was part of the Intelligence Corps regiment. He died in a car accident in 2011 when Joshua was 6 years old. Joshua said of visiting No.10 Downing Street:

“It felt very rewarding to represent Scotty’s and to be able to give a voice to so many young people. It was lovely to meet Mrs Murty and talk to her about our experiences and what it’s like being a bereaved military child. I feel she can be a very powerful voice for Scotty’s. We had a great day and it was a special moment when we bumped into the Prime Minister on the stairs.”

15-year-old Brooke Scott, whose dad was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, when she was 7 months old, commented: “It was a very proud moment to represent members of Scotty’s and it filled us with a lot of emotions, especially when we talked about what has happened to us personally. I think having options within classes and exams is something that needs to be re-looked at for bereaved Forces children, so I hope the things we discussed will help other young people.”

Tuscany Crowther-Snow, 17, whose dad, Leading Marine Engineering Mechanic Paul Crowther, an officer in the Navy and MOD Police, died by suicide in 2020, added: “There’s a lack of understanding from some teachers’ perspective when it comes to how to cater for children whose military parent has died. They haven’t been through it so I think training and advice for teachers would be good.”

Scotty’s founder Nikki Scott, said: “I first met Mrs Murty when I was invited to a lunch at Downing Street in May 2023, the day after the King’s Coronation. She was keen to hear all about Scotty’s Little Soldiers and was instantly very supportive of the work we do to support bereaved military children and young people. The Prime Minister and Mrs Murty invited myself and a group of Scotty’s members to No.10 for an Armed Forces Day event in June, and we’re really thrilled that Scotty’s have been invited back again.

Nikki continued: “Bereaved military children can face a lot of challenges, especially within their education journey. Ensuring they are sensitively supported in their education is really important, so it’s been a great opportunity for members of Scotty’s Council to raise this with Mrs Murty on behalf of all of Scotty’s members.

“I was really proud of them for speaking so openly and honestly about their experiences. They also spoke with such passion and pride about their ideas of how to make changes so that other bereaved children don’t experience the same situations as themselves. We are very grateful to Mrs Murty for being so generous with her time and making sure that our council members all felt heard and listened to.”

Scotty’s currently supports over 670 members and has a long-term goal of supporting over 1000 bereaved military children and young people annually by 2030.

To pledge your commitment to supporting children and young people who have experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces, click here.