HERMITAGE Academy’s head teacher has pledged to explore ways of funding key posts to support armed forces families in the area after a key source was withdrawn.

The Helensburgh school has previously relied on funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust's Service Pupil Support Programme to fund a service pupil advisor and a 'support for learning' teacher.

However, funding from that source is being withdrawn – even though a report has revealed that around an additional 1,500 naval personnel could be based at HM Naval Base Clyde by 2030.

Douglas Morgan, head teacher at the academy, assured one Helensburgh and Lomond councillor that other funding sources would be explored.

The discussion took place at a meeting of Argyll and Bute Council’s community services committee on Thursday, August 24.

A report to the committee stated: "From June 2024, changes to the funding arrangements for the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Service Pupil Support Programme will mean funding for the service pupil advisor and the additional support for learning teacher will no longer be available.

"As such we will not have the ability to fund these posts from this trust fund again."

Committee members were then asked to “agree that alternative funding sources be investigated, for the key posts of pupil advisor and additional support for learning teacher, to ensure the continued fulfilment of our statutory duties.”

Mr Hendry continued: “Argyll and Bute houses HMNB Clyde which will be the Royal Navy’s Submarine Flotilla base and new Training Centre. It is expected that numbers of naval personnel could rise by approximately 1,500 between 2023 and 2030.

“There are currently approximately 650 armed forces children and young people in schools across Helensburgh and Lomond and a total of 775 across Argyll and Bute. This figure is based on families who have declared to their school that they are Armed Forces and does not include pre-five figures.”

Responding to those parts of the report, Councillor Campbell-Sturgess said: “Obvious this is not something we can tackle here as a local authority, but with funding being withdrawn, this is happening at the same time as the MoD talking about 1,500 personnel moving to Helensburgh.

“We do need more people in the area, but that aside, in terms of the numbers, how big an increase will that lead to in terms of pupils in our schools, and what we are going to have to find now the funding has been withdrawn?”

Mr Morgan responded: “We are fortunate that we work with the base on a regular basis, and I regularly ask for that information around numbers moving into the area.

“I ask for what age their children are and whether they are planning for primary or secondary enrolments.

“We are not able to provide you with the numbers we are looking at at this moment in time.

"We know that 1,500 in Helensburgh is not necessarily in the Helensburgh and Lomond area; some may be based outwith the locality.

“But the plan is to work in partnership with them and when they are clearer, they will share the information with us.

“Regarding the funding, regardless of the influx of families moving into the area, the funding does not change.

“We will be looking to put in bids in different areas. We will not be back to the education support fund, but we will tap into exploring other avenues.”