Concern over Government schemes promoting ‘military ethos’ in education

07/12/2012ForcesWatch press release

The organisation ForcesWatch (1), which monitors the way young people are recruited into the military, have expressed concern about the announcement made by Education Secretary Michael Gove of four projects which promote ‘military ethos’ in order to improve achievement among pupils disengaged with education

The projects will receive £1.9 million of government funding. In June this year the Department of Education announced another £10.85 million to expand cadets into state education (2).

The schemes are part of a wider package of measures in the DfE’s ‘military skills and ethos programme’ which also include the future development of military academies and free schools in which every pupil in the school would be educated with a ‘military ethos’ (3).

Emma Sangster from ForcesWatch said, “We question the one-sided view of ‘military ethos’ being promoted here and whether it is appropriate within an educational context. The development of values and life skills are of course vital but why is a military approach a necessary component?

“Who will actually benefit from the promotion of military ethos in education. Certainly the government are keen to provide employment opportunities for ex-service personnel and they also need to increase future recruitment capacity into the armed forces, so they will definitely benefit. Where is the evidence that similarly well funded non-military schemes would not equally benefit the young people involved without the dangers of exposing them to a one-sided view of the benefits of the military.

“The military should not be seen as a simple solution to complex social problems, yet this policy is being implemented with no consultation. Do parents have a say in whether their children are put in these schemes?

“The motto for Commando Joes’, one of the scheme providers is ‘No Child Left Behind’. This makes reference to the United States where the No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001, gave the military legal access to schools and contact data for each student for recruitment purposes. The huge presence of the military in US education has proved very controversial yet the UK seem to be heading in the same direction.” (4)


1. ForcesWatch is a UK organisation that challenges the ethics of military recruitment and questions the climate of uncritical national pride in the armed forces.


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See more: legislation & policy, military in schools/colleges, ForcesWatch, military ethos