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Grown up - children from military families

‘Grown Up’ Children from Military Families: reflections on experiences of childhood and education

This pilot project is exploring the childhood and educational experiences of ‘grown up’ children from military families. These ‘grown-up’ children are currently overlooked in research, policy and practice, as the focus continues to be on serving members of the military, veterans, and their families, including school-aged children.

The Office for Students recently noted that children from military families face ‘very specific and complex barriers’ and this has been recognised in the government’s Service Pupil Premium funding, provided to schools since 2011.

Although research has been undertaken with school-aged children, we know very little about the childhood and educational experiences from those now grown up.

This pilot project will provide additional knowledge about how childhood and education are experienced and understood on reflection and the implications of this. The stories from this unique group of adults can be used to provide support for school-aged children that cannot be elicited from anywhere else.

This project will start to provide knowledge about this group that can be used to support an external funding application, as well as to begin to influence policy. The stories elicited will be used to create resources to be used in practice, most specifically to support current school-aged children and their families, as well as offering guidance about the support that can be provided to ‘children’ as they move to university and other contexts, making their transitions into adulthood. 

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Anne Chappell
Dr Anne Chappell - Anne Chappell is the Head of Department and Reader in the Department of Education and has been in the Department at Brunel University London since 2004. She teaches on undergraduate and postgraduate education programmes, including Initial Teacher Education. Prior to this she worked in several secondary schools in London and the South-East of England with roles including Head of Year and Head of Physical Education. She studied Education, Physical Education and Science at West Sussex Institute of Higher Education, before completing a Master’s in Education at the University of Southampton and a PhD at Brunel University London. Anne is a Senior Fellow of Advance Higher Education (previously Higher Education Academy). Anne's research interests are in auto/biography, education, policy, and the experiences of professionals, children and young people, including those from military families. Anne is the co-editor of The Palgrave Handbook of Auto/Biography with Dr Julie Parsons, University of Plymouth. She has undertaken funded research with university students from widening participation backgrounds and commuting students. She has also undertaken research with teachers at different career stages. She was Brunel's coordinator for the EU funded “Universities Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence: Training for Sustainable Student Services (USVSV)” project.  Anne's recent and current research, with colleagues, focusses on the experiences of 'Grown Up Children' from military families, including university students: (‘Grown Up’ Children from Military Families: reflections on experiences of childhood and education and University Students from Military Families). Anne co-convenes the BSA's Auto/Biography Study Group: Auto/Biography Study Group ( with Dr Carly Stewart, Bournemouth University.
Dr Christopher Ince
Dr Ellen McHugh
Dr Ellen McHugh - Ellen McHugh is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Education. Ellen joined Brunel University London in 2017 and teaches on the undergraduate education programme. She is a member of the Human Geography: Space, Place and Society research group and Fellow of Advance Higher Education. Ellen studied Geography and Archaeology at the University of Manchester and completed an MA in Tourism, Environment and Development at King’s College London. In 2007, Ellen was awarded a studentship from the University of Reading to undertake a PhD in Geography. Ellen’s research since joining the Department of Education has focused on higher education and student experience. She has worked on a number of research projects including students from a widening participation background; social housing and resident engagement; commuter students; the growth of tuition centres; students from military families; and doctoral students negotiating the shift to an academic position. Ellen also has particular expertise with hard-to-reach groups. In 2023, Ellen and her colleague Dr Emma Wainwright were awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant to look at free food provision for university students. Prior to academia, Ellen worked in the Embassy of Ireland with the Emigrant Services Advisory Committee (ESAC), established in 1984 to advise the Irish Government on issues of concern to the Irish community in Britain. Ellen also worked as a Marketing Executive for Tourism Ireland, the body established under the Good Friday Agreement to market the island of Ireland overseas.

Related Research Group(s)


Education, Identities and Society - Research at the intersection of Education, Sociology, Human Geography, Youth Studies and Digital Presence.

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Pedagogy, Policy and Professional Education - Focusing on pedagogy, policy and professional education, including the education of teachers.

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Global Lives - Research conducted in the Centre addresses the challenges facing society, helping to change the lives of people around the world by bringing economic, social and cultural benefits.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 09/01/2024