State schools should set up army cadet forces to ensure pupils are ‘life ready’

Schools should also recruit more ex-armed service personnel, urges Labour

State schools should copy the private sector and set up army cadet forces to help build character and instil a sense of self-discipline in their pupils, Labour said today.

Schools should also recruit more ex-armed service personnel to act as mentors to their pupils, according to the party’s education spokesman, Stephen Twigg.

Speaking at a conference in Sheffield, Mr Twigg said schools needed to do more to ensure their pupils were “life ready” when they left education – and that developing character and resilience needed to be one of the aims of a new modern curriculum.

The shadow education secretary praised the work of St Matthew Academy in Lewisham, south London, one of the few state schools to have set up a Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and to use ex-servicemen and women as mentors.

“I was inspired by talking to a 14-year-old who talked about the fact that the mentor from the armed services had changed her life – giving her a sense of self-discipline, rigour and helped her get back on the right track,” he said.

There are 257 private and state schools with their own CCFs, according to the Ministry of Defence, but the vast majority are understood to be in independent schools.… Read more

Charities pairing ex-military staff with disadvantaged pupils get £1.9m

Extra education cash for charities is part of Michael Gove’s ambition to boost military ethos in schoolchildren

Extra education cash for charities is part of Michael Gove’s ambition to boost military ethos in schoolchildren.

Michael Gove’s desire for a greater military ethos in schools has taken another step forward with the announcement of extra cash for charities which are using ex-service personnel to work with excluded or disadvantaged pupils.

The Department for Education (DfE) said it had committed £1.9m to four projects around England which put former military trainers into alternative provision teaching units, used primarily for pupils who had been excluded from ordinary schools but also those, for example, with particular medical needs.

The former service personnel would provide mentoring and confidence-building, and organise team-building tasks and, in some instances, outdoor obstacle courses to “engage and motivate hard-to-reach pupils”.

Since becoming education secretary, Gove has expanded the provision for school cadet forces and developed a Troops to Teachers programme, with £9,000 bursaries for ex-military staff seeking a career in the classroom.

Of the latest project, he said: “Every child can benefit from the values of a military ethos. Self-discipline and teamwork are at the heart of what makes our armed forces the best in the world – and are exactly what all young people need to succeed.”

Two of the groups involved are private youth training companies with a specialism in military-style courses.

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Fallout over pupils on parade

Letters in response to Dept of Education promoting military ethos in schools

Letters in response to Dept of Education promoting military ethos in schools

Is this what education has come to? Sending former soldiers into classrooms to pass on the “military ethos” to troubled children without evaluation of the risks, legal obligations and ethical issues involved (Charities pairing ex-military staff with disadvantaged pupils get £1.9m, 7 December)?

Michael Gove is not alone – the shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg, has also said he wishes to see military schools as a way of raising aspirations in poor areas. You probably have to go back to Westminster’s support for war in Iraq to see such Conservative and Labour frontbench unanimity.

Of course, at the heart of this project is the need to raise recruits for a 50% rise in the UK’s reserve forces to 36,000 by 2020, rather than promoting positive “core values” in young people. While our armed forces may well be the “best in the world”, ill-discipline, bullying and sexual assault are rife. And by recruiting under-18s (ie child soldiers), the UK shares a practice with only a few other highly militarised countries, including Iran and North Korea.… Read more

We have child soldiers in Britain too

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

While in full support of The Independent’s Child Soldiers Appeal, I think we also need to look closer to home. The British armed forces do recruit children as young as 16.

The British Government itself made a submission under Article 8, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, which states: “Army recruiting initiatives include presentations in schools by Army careers advisers, a variety of Army youth team and Army recruiting team activities, attachments and visits to units, school fairs, Combined Cadet Force, advertising and marketing initiatives, membership of the Army’s Camouflage Club.”

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2008 stated that the UK should “reconsider its active policy of recruitment of children into the armed forces”. We need to put pressure on our own Government to stop recruiting children here into the armed forces.

Arfon Rhys

Rhostryfan, Gwynedd… Read more

‘Remembrance Day poppies should be white’

White poppies should be worn on Remembrance Sunday rather than the traditional red poppy to commemorate civilian victims rather than Britain’s military dead, actor Mark Rylance has said.

White poppies should be worn on Remembrance Sunday rather than the traditional red poppy to commemorate civilian victims rather than Britain’s military dead, actor Mark Rylance has said.

Mr Rylance called for white poppies to be worn instead as a symbol of peace and to recognise the civilian casualties of war.

Red poppies are traditionally worn every November as a mark of respect to war veterans, members of the Armed Forces who have lost their lives, and their families.

Mr Rylance said he was moved to wear white because 90 per cent of casualties of war are now civilians, not soldiers.

“The safest place to be on a battlefield was in the military,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“I felt therefore that the remembrance only of the military dead and wounded and suffering was not very accurate.”

If the country is to remember “the tragedy of war” every year, civilian casualties should be recognised, he said.

White poppies were first worn in 1926 but have been overtaken by red paper flowers, 40 million of which are made and sold by the Royal British Legion every autumn.

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