The Armed Forces Covenant in Action? Part 4: Education of service personnel

A new House of Commons Defence Committee report calls for improvements in service education and asks for further information is needed on why the Army is so dependent on recruiting personnel under the age of 18 years compared to the other two Services, and whether steps are being taken to reduce this dependency.

Ofsted inspections

Ofsted conducted a series of inspections on Army Apprenticeships in 2013. The inspections rated the overall effectiveness as good which was an improvement over the last inspection in 2009, rated as satisfactory (now called ‘requires improvement’). Ofsted inspections of other establishments in 2013 showed a small improvement on 2012-three were rated as outstanding but two required improvement. The Committee calls for improvements so that all establishments are rated at least good and more establishments, apprenticeships schemes  and courses are rated as outstanding. The MoD has been told to provide the Committee with plans to address the areas for further improvement identified by Ofsted and its recommendations.

New recruits

The Committee looked into the education of new recruits. The minimum entry age is 16 years of age, the earliest school leaving age. Some 28 per cent of Army recruits are less than 18 years of age, whereas the Naval Service only recruited five per cent and the Royal Air Force (RAF) eight per cent.… Read more

Almost 40% of army recruits have reading age of 11, MPs warn

Almost two-fifths (39%) of recruits to the Army have the reading ability of an 11-year-old or lower, MPs have warned.

A similar proportion (38%) can only do maths aimed at pupils in their last year of primary school, says a Commons Defence Select Committee report.

The report also raises concerns that 28% of army recruits are aged under 18.

The Ministry of Defence said the armed forces were among the largest training providers in the UK, with “excellent completion and achievement rates”.

The research, which examined the education of service personnel, found that the Army, Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy had a reasonable record in improving the maths and English skills of young recruits and trainees who joined up with low levels of qualifications.

It says the minimum entry requirement for new recruits is “entry level 2”, which is the equivalent to the standard expected of a seven- or eight-year-old in literacy and numeracy.

It found all of those who joined the Royal Navy or the RAF in 2012 were above entry level 2.

But 3.5% of army recruits had reading levels at this standard, while 1.7% had this level of ability in maths.

Furthermore, 39% of the army recruits had a literacy level at or below the standard expected for an 11-year-old, and 38% had this level of ability in numeracy.… Read more

Ex-troops without degrees to train as teachers

Former armed forces personnel without degrees will be fast-tracked into teaching in England under a new government programme.

The Troops to Teachers scheme will help “highly skilled” former military personnel become teachers within two years.

Education Minister David Laws said ex-members of “our inspiring armed forces” could make great teachers.

Teaching unions doubted whether two years’ training would be enough.

According to the Department for Education (DfE), service leavers without degrees “will be the only people able to start training as a teacher without a degree and be qualified within two years”.

‘Outstanding’ potential

The DfE stressed that the scheme would use a rigorous assessment, selection and recruitment process to identify those “with the potential to become outstanding teachers”.

From January 2014 those selected for the scheme will earn a salary, training four days a week on-the-job in classrooms around England and one day at university.

After two years’ training they will count as ‘newly qualified teachers’ and will have gained an honours degrees in education, specialising either as secondary school subject teachers or as primary teachers.

A DfE spokesman stressed that top military specialists often have relevant experience, particularly in science and technology which could help redress the shortage of teachers in some subjects.… Read more