The Alliance’s first ever national conference was called Building Bridges. The world has changed enormously since then in ways we could not have predicted and, while our vision of Thriving Lives for Service Children remains the same, the Alliance has also changed.
The bridge-building that began five years ago has enabled the creation of a UK-wide network of 12 hubs that span divides between potentially disparate contexts: between education and military, between research and practice, between vision and its realisation, between Service children and thriving futures.
Over those bridges independent research not only identified seven principles of effective practice, but translated them into the Thriving Lives Toolkit, which will soon be accessible to schools throughout the UK through a new online platform. And together, we have reached over 600 schools, so far, with tailored training to make effective use of the Toolkit; through the Year of the Service Child Voice we have found ways to enhance the centrality of those voices, distilled from the rich diversity of work among allies; and we have begun to fill in the significant gaps in our understanding of Service children’s post-16 experiences.
Perhaps, the most significant bridges are those built between allies in local contexts where new investment, relationships and activity have enhanced school-to-school collaboration through the common language of the Thriving Lives Toolkit, inspired innovative peer-to-peer practice through the Festival of Friends model, or created university-school-Service child partnerships through one of the many Creative Forces days that have taken place across the country.
Our 2018 stakeholder research told us that people need to be better connected with each other, with evidence and with support and this still guides our work. Indeed, it is through these enhanced connections that the wealth of experience and insight of allies has been brought to bear on the challenges and ambitions we share. And it is the power and potential of our diversity that will underpin the next phase of the Alliance’s development in which we seek to establish a broader and (even more) inclusive SCiP Alliance Community, especially through a new online collaboration platform, and to share its leadership through enhanced structures developed with the community over the coming year.
This is what we mean by Leading Together. The future of the Alliance is in including in the community more of the partners who share our vision of thriving lives for Service children and finding ways to share the leadership of our work so that it reflects the enhanced diversity of the community we are building. It’s an open invitation to the thousands supporting Service children’s education and wellbeing, from the hundreds who have helped lead our work so far (and the four part-time staff who support them), to shape the Alliance so it helps you help Service children thrive.