THE Wavell School in North Camp is offering support to pupils with parents in the military as troops prepare for war with Iraq.

All teaching and admin staff have been briefed by Hampshire Education Psychological Service on how to recognise the emotional problems children may suffer as a result.

A spokeswoman from the service said: “We sent out a letter to all our schools that may be affected explaining to them the services that we offer and encouraging them to take advantage.

“We support the schools and provide an educational psychologist to show them how best to deal with difficult questions, on bereavement for example.

“Children pick up information on the war and need people to help explain situations to them as they could be picking up mixed information.

“It is a reminder to teachers that they are not on their own and that they have the support to help them look after children who are distressed and encourage them to talk about their feelings, not hide them away.

“The schools play a vital role in continuity support.”

Norman Atkinson, deputy headteacher at The Wavell School said that their preparations had begun two weeks ago.

“The whole of our staff have been given a seminar on how to recognise types of behaviour that may arise from their parent’s deployment, and how to deal with it.

“We will be having a follow up session with staff on Monday to create an action plan for the school staff.

“There have also been meetings with army representatives and we have taken their advice on how to help the children if they need it.”

Out of the 827 pupils, around 30% come from military backgrounds although at the moment not all of their parents have been deployed to the Gulf.

“This affects the whole community,” added Mr Atkinson. “It is something that will not only affect the children of the soldiers but their friends as well.

“We are giving both the children and the staff a lot of support and will continue to do so.”

Marlborough Infant School in Aldershot also has a high number of army children.

Headteacher Christine Bird said: “We are trying to keep the school as normal as possible. When soldiers are away we try to keep in touch.

“We have the Garrison Radio team coming on Friday. If children have permission they will be able to do a sound recording and send a message.

We are also sending e-mails out to them.”