Military and education not compatible

Letter to the media in response to article by Labour MPs inviting the ‘military to invade our schools’.

Stephen Twigg and Jim Murphy’s call for the military to invade our schools (July 9th) demonstrates a misunderstanding of the incompatible roles of the military and education sector as well as a selective use of evidence. Schools exist to provide a well-rounded education for their students, enabling them to make informed decisions about their future. However, internal Ministry of Defence and Army documents are clear in their emphasis on recruitment as the primary rationale for engaging with schools and young people.

Using The Duke of York’s Royal Military School as an example of the benefits of a military education is deceptive. That school was, until two years ago, an independent school and still has a significantly lower than average number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

There are numerous examples of schools working with challenging students and performing above average without the military’s assistance.
Assumptions about the appropriateness of a ‘military ethos’ within education need full examination and an understanding of incompatible agendas and the problems reported to exist within the military itself – including alcohol abuse and consequent violent behavior (Telegraph 03/11/07 and 13/05/10) – that may not make it such a good role model for young people.… Read more

Labour plan to set up ‘Service Schools’ staffed by soldiers

A new generation of “Service Schools” staffed entirely by former members of the Armed Forces could be set up across Britain under Labour plans to raise education standards, it has emerged.

A Labour policy paper suggests establishing the schools in every English region – and winning support for the plan from devolved governments – as part of a move to improve standards of discipline and promote a culture of hard work among pupils.

The proposal forms part of a radical plan designed to harness the “ethos and standards of our Armed Forces” in the state education system.

The Party is also proposing a huge expansion of Combined Cadet Forces (CCF) in schools and setting up a specialist “mentoring” scheme in which ex-servicemen are drafted into the classroom to act as role models to difficult pupils.

In a document, Labour said this was “currently a feature of many private schools” and could be put to real benefit in the state system.

The move is likely to be opposed by teaching unions who have criticised previous attempts to create closer links between schools and the military.

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Judge rejects bid to stop Olympic rooftop missiles

The clear implication of today’s judgment was that “the MoD now has power to militarise the private homes of any person” even when there was no war on, or state of emergency declared.

Alarmed residents have lost their High Court battle to prevent surface-to-air missiles being stationed on the roof of a 17-storey residential tower block during the Olympics.

A judge ruled today residents at the Fred Wigg Tower in Leytonstone, east London, did not have an arguable case.

The tenants fear the missile base above their heads could make them the focus for a terrorist attack.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD), security service and police say there is “no credible threat” and the siting of the missiles is both “legitimate and proportionate”.

The block is one of six sites in the capital where missiles, including rapier and high-velocity systems, will be deployed to protect Games venues.

The Fred Wigg residents applied for permission to seek judicial review, protesting there has been a “disproportionate interference” with their human rights, and they were not consulted fairly and properly over the siting of the ground-based air defence system.

Their lawyers argued during a one-day hearing yesterday that those who wanted to move out should at least be relocated in hotels by the MoD for the duration of the Games, or a gantry should be erected away from the block to take the missile system.

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