The Labour Party and the National Union of Teachers oppose the Conservatives’ plans to make all schools academies.
In 2014, ForcesWatch published a briefing outlining the extent to which the Coalition Government’s hopes to create ‘military’ academies and free schools had been realised. We revealed that numerous academies were adopting elements of the Government’s ‘Military Ethos in Schools programme’.
Since 2014, military influence in academies has grown significantly, and more information has come to light. For example, at least five academies/academy chains (including England’s largest academies chain, the Academies Enterprise Trust) have signed an ‘Armed Forces Corporate Covenant’. In the Covenants, the academies state that ‘the whole nation has a moral obligation’ to members of the armed forces’, and pledge to: promote ‘the fact that we are an armed forces-friendly organisation’; set up Cadet Forces (or support local Cadet Forces); make special allowances for members of staff in the Reserves; ‘actively participate in Armed Forces Day’; and in one case, ‘strengthening our relationships with our sponsoring regiment, the Coldstream Guards’.
The NUT has opposed military recruitment in schools since 2008, and has also – along with the teaching unions Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), NASUWT, Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), and Labour – criticised aspects of the Military Ethos in Schools programme.
However, it was actually Labour who came up with the Military Ethos in Schools concept (in around 2008), and the two precessessors of current Shadow Education Secretary Lucy Powell – Stephen Twigg and Tristram Hunt – were both keen on the policy overall.