New Deal Needed on Military Visits to Scotland’s Schools

The Scottish Government is being urged to investigate the way the armed forces operate in secondary schools and strike a “new deal” for children.

ForcesWatch – which scrutinises the military – and Quakers in Scotland, are today formally launching a petition at Holyrood calling for increased transparency and scrutiny of armed forces visits to schools.

The petition will be collecting signatures online from 16 February until 20 March 2016.

According to available data the military make a disproportionate number of visits to schools and colleges in Scotland, compared to England.

A 2014 ForcesWatch report highlighted how over four-fifths of state secondary schools were visited by the armed forces during a two year period. (1)

In some areas every school was visited, and some as many as 31 times over a two year period. About one third of the visits were explicitly about careers in the armed forces, while other visits will also have had a careers element.

ForcesWatch coordinator, Emma Sangster, said: “A new deal is badly needed on this issue as the number of visits that the armed forces make to schools has risen significantly over the past ten to twelve years.

“As our petition states there is ‘a lack of clarity regarding the nature of armed forces visits and who is responsible for overseeing them’.… Read more

Troops to Teachers scheme misses target

A controversial scheme to turn former military personnel into teachers has trained just a sixth of its target number of veterans during the first two years, TES can reveal.

The Troops to Teachers initiative had 180 places for its first cohort, which completed training this month. But only 32 people have finished the course and become teachers.

The government-backed scheme had attracted controversy from the start because the plans to retrain former soldiers as teachers were sold as a way to bring a “military ethos” into struggling schools.

John Howson, director of TeachVac and an expert in teacher recruitment, said that he would be surprised if the scheme continued as a separate entity in the long term.

The figures have emerged after official reports criticised the organisation of the Troops to Teachers project.

The 2015 National College for Teaching and Leadership annual report says that there have been “challenges on recruitment” for the initiative.

A Department for Education spokesperson said Troops to Teachers was offering “talented service leavers a chance to inspire the next generation” by teaching leadership, teamwork and resilience.

The DfE has spent £4.3 million on the scheme so far, ‘the majority of which has been initial, one-off start-up costs.’ Only 144 teachers have been recruited across the three cohorts, and substantial drop-out rates suggest that significantly fewer will finish the training.… Read more