Naval Children’s Charity CEO receives MBE!

The Naval Children’s Charity is delighted to share that our Chief Executive Officer, Clare Scherer, is to receive an MBE in recognition of her services to Naval families.

Clare will receive the award as part of His Majesty Charles III’s inaugural ‘Birthday Honours List’. 

“I am extremely proud and delighted to be the recipient of this award. It truly is an honour and I am deeply grateful to HM The King,” said Ms Scherer.  

First working with the NCC as a consultant in 2008, Clare was appointed CEO in 2018. 

During that time, the charity has undergone a successful re-brand, commissioned extensive research into the stresses on the lives of military children in the UK, and produced a suite of resources that help Naval families cope with deployment, grief and mental health. 

In 2021/2, NCC supported almost 4,000 children directly through direct grants and bursaries. Over 1,000 payments in household support have been delivered, including direct support to supplement grocery spend, Christmas presents and housing costs. 

The charity has also provided payments for educational costs, including bursaries for essentials in home schooling. Children with special educational needs and physical disabilities have also been supported, with funding made available for house adaptations, transport for medical needs and hospital stays, therapies and respite breaks. 

In Spring 2021, the NCC was awarded the Royal Navy Team Commendation. Of the 40 recipients for the award, the NCC was the only external organisation to be commended. 

“The [MBE] award is in recognition of my work supporting Naval families and, in reality, the award is for my entire team of staff at the NCC,” says Clare.

“They are the ones who work closely with our families, children and young people, ensuring that their needs are met in a compassionate and meaningful way and I would like to commend them for the dedication and passion they bring to the Charity.” 

At the NCC, we believe that to be the child of someone who is, or has been, in the Naval Service should be a positive and enhancing experience – something to be borne with pride.  

As such, over the next few years, the NCC is expanding its ‘Life Chances’ programmes; offering all Naval children new experiences which will give them the skills to thrive in their future lives and careers. 

Clare added: “We are excited to be developing our support to all our Naval Children, not just those where there is crisis driven by disability, illness or significant financial hardship.  

“Many of our children and young people are impacted by their parents’ service in the Royal Navy and we look forward to providing them with resources and opportunities to help them cope and enable them to thrive, helping them to be the best they can be.”

Supporting Naval children with special needs

Are you the parent of a young child that potentially has special needs and are finding yourself struggling with the system? Both the Naval Children’s Charity (NCC) and the Naval Families Federation (NFF) have noticed that they are receiving enquiries from families on this issue.  

For many families with young children some indications of potential special needs show at a young age, often picked up by health visitors or as they start nursery or school. Getting the right assessments, therapies and support for your children can be a long and bewildering process.  

The NCC are often approached by families in these situations looking for advice, support and, on occasion, financial assistance to facilitate the journey which can lead to getting an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP) put in place.  

All children and young people may experience learning difficulties at some point. This is not unusual. For most children the difficulties are temporary and are soon overcome with help and encouragement from home and school.

The term ‘Special Educational Needs’ is used to describe learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for children to learn than most children of the same age. Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) are likely to need extra or different help from that given to other children their age. This help is known as special educational provision.

There are four main categories of special educational needs as set out in the SEND code of practice: 0-25 years   

Children may have difficulties in one or more areas, such as:

  • Thinking, understanding and learning: these children may find all learning activities difficult, or have particular difficulties with some learning activities such as reading and spelling. They may learn at a slower pace than others, find the curriculum difficult, or struggle with organisation and memory.
  • Emotional and behavioural difficulties: these children may have very low self-esteem and lack confidence. They may find it difficult to follow rules or settle down and behave properly in school. They may find relationships difficult, appear withdrawn or isolated or do things that impact on their health and wellbeing. 
  • Speech, language and communication: these children may have difficulty in expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying to them. They may find it hard to make friends or relate to others, find conversations and play confusing or challenging. They may find it difficult to make sense of the world around them or to organise themselves.
  • Physical or sensory difficulties: these children may have a disability or a medical condition that has an impact upon their learning. They may have a physical difficulty such as a visual or hearing impairment. These difficulties can be age related and may fluctuate over time meaning they may find it hard to access a school because of their disability or might need extra support or specialist equipment. 

The first and most important thing to remember is that all children with SEN are entitled to receive a broad, balanced and suitable education which includes the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (for children aged 3 to 5) or the National Curriculum (for children aged 5 to 16).

Most children with SEN have their needs met in a mainstream school or early settings, although some children with more complex needs benefit from the more specialist help offered in a ‘special’ school.

You should be told if the school thinks your child has or may have SEN and how the school will be helping your child. Your views are very important and so are your child’s own views. The school should make sure that you are involved in all decisions that affect your child because you have a vital role in supporting your child’s education.

If you are a serving family and are looking for advice and support for a child with SEN then the Education Advisory Team (EAT(UK)), part of the MOD’s Defence Children Services (DCS), can help. Other advice for all children can be found through the Independent Provider of Special Education Advice (IPSEA). 

However, we know that finding support can be difficult. There can be long waiting lists for assessments and then for the recommended therapies. In some cases, the NCC can support your family with navigating this process.  

Therapeutic support. If your child has been recommended therapy, such as Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) it can be difficult to find a practitioner that has availability and that your child connects with.  

We know that there is a backlog within the system for children waiting for specialist help, as of Nov 2022 there were 65,000 children under the age of 18 on the NHS waiting list for SALT. Evidence shows that early intervention is beneficial, leading to better outcomes in speech, language and communication.  

The NCC have partnered with a new online resource to help families and professionals find the right therapist for your child. TAC Access is a directory of Therapists across the UK who work both face to face and virtually. We can also, in some circumstances, support your family in funding SALT and other therapies.  

There is a new app which has been developed to support parents with speech delayed children, called Pippin Speech. The app includes activities, resources and ideas to try with your child at home.  

The NHS has resources for parents to support children with speech and language difficulties which are available regionally through your local NHS Trust.  

The Naval Children’s Charity (NCC) has also developed a partnership with the National Autistic Society (NAS) to offer experienced and bespoke support to Naval parents who have children with Autism, whether diagnosed or not. To find out if your child meets the criteria for support from the NAS, you can contact the NCC directly, or come to the NCC through RN FPS/other agencies, and our caseworking team will carry out an in-depth assessment to establish the circumstances and needs of your child.

This may then lead to a referral to the NAS and, if required, financial assistance from the NCC towards additional support following recommendations from the NAS. The NAS have centres that can provide assessments for children which are recognised by Local Authorities. 

Clare Scherer, CEO of the Naval Children’s Charity said

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with the National Autistic Society to help improve the support given to our children and young people with Autism and to provide professional and tailored support to the families. As part of our programmes supporting the Health and Wellbeing of our families this is a significant partnership for us.”  

The RNRMC, through their Strengthening Families programme, are working with organisations such as the NCC and Kids Charity to develop support to parents with neurodiverse children. 

Any financial support from the NCC is means tested but we offer much more than just financial grants. If you think you would like to discuss any issues facing you and your children please contact us on or call 023 9263 9534. Visit the education section of our help page, to find out more. 

Giving Naval Children their Voice

Giving Naval Children their Voice

We live in a world where the best jobs and best opportunities go to the people who are most articulate, the people who are best at putting their point across. So, learning to debate can be incredibly valuable for young people, for several reasons:
  • It develops critical thinking skills:Debating requires students to think critically about complex issues, analyse
    arguments, and evaluate evidence. These skills are essential for success in academic and professional settings.

  • It enhances communication skills: Debating provides an opportunity for young people to improve their public speaking skills and learn how to communicate their ideas effectively. This can be particularly beneficial for
    those who may not have had many opportunities to practice speaking in front of others.

  • Boosts confidence: Participating in debates can help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds build confidence in their abilities, which can carry over to other areas of their lives, such as academics, relationships, and career pursuits.

  • Expands knowledge and worldview:Debating allows students to explore a wide range of topics and perspectives, which can broaden their understanding
    of the world and help them become more informed and engaged citizens.
  • Opens doors for future
    Debating can be a valuable extracurricular activity that can impress college admissions officers and potential employers, and it can also provide networking opportunities and connections to mentors who can
    help students achieve their goals.

  • Overall, learning to debate can provide young people with valuable skills, knowledge, and opportunities that can help them succeed in school and beyond.

We understand that children of naval families may experience loneliness and isolation due to the nature of their parent’s job. Naval families often face frequent moves and long periods of separation due to deployments, which can make it difficult for children to form lasting relationships and maintain connections with friends and family.

Frequent moves can disrupt a child’s social support network and cause feelings of isolation, as they may have to often adjust to new environments, schools, and peer groups. This can lead to a sense of disconnection and loneliness, as the child may struggle to establish meaningful relationships in their new community. So, recognising the advantages of debate training and the sometimes-isolated situation for naval children, the Naval Children’s Charity, working in partnership with the Naval Families Federation, veterans charity Forward Assist and educational charity Parallel Histories, has created a new debating programme. It’s aimed at young people from naval families who would both benefit from debate training and would enjoy getting to know and sharing experiences with other young people from naval families located in different parts of the country or abroad. And it’s free. The debate workshops are informal and collaborative and designed for young people with no previous debating experience. In fact, we really want to involve you if you are one of those people who hate public speaking. There will be some online training in small groups of two or three, then some online debating with other naval young people, and at the end of the programme a trip to London and a celebration event in the Houses of Parliament. We’ll be running this programme across the summer and into the autumn and we can schedule the training either after school during the school term time or during the day during school holidays.

How to get involved

If you are a young person aged 12-16 come from a current or former naval family, and are interested in taking part, or simply want to find out more, please email

We are also looking for three or four students (18-25) who would be able to act as debating mentors. Parallel Histories will provide training on how to teach speaking skills and you would be needed for approximately 6-8 hours over the summer and autumn to mentor young people online. This opportunity would be of value to students who are: thinking about a career in education, wanting to develop their record of volunteering for
their CV, or simply interested in helping younger people achieve their potential. If you think this would suit you please email