Troops to Teachers scheme failing to entice ex-soldiers into the classroom
It was supposed to address teacher shortages and instil a military ethos in schools, but take up is tiny and dominated by non-graduates.
A few years back, Colonel Edward Newman, 48, was commanding 3,000 troops at the end of a 30-year career in the Royal Logistics Corps. Today he’s teaching a year 7 class about slavery. There’s a well-burnished shine to his shoes and a straightness in his stance which hint at his military background, but otherwise he seems supremely comfortable in his new surroundings.”People keep asking if I miss the army, and I really don’t,” he says. “In some ways it’s very similar really, getting stuck in; lots of things going on. It’s just that I’ve gone from being the one in command to being in the classroom,” he grins. “And doing my own photocopying.”
Newman clearly relishes his new role: “I’d been a station commander in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Kosovo, and at 46 I had 10 years left. The next job would have been behind a computer in HQ somewhere. I’d always wanted to do something else. I didn’t want to finish my time just having had one career. Teaching was perfect, and it just came together.”
Newman was a beneficiary of an early incarnation of the coalition’s Troops to Teachers programme – part of a drive by the then education secretary Michael Gove to inject a “military ethos” into schools. The idea was that personnel leaving the armed services – particularly those being redeployed as part of budget cuts – might help to fill gaps in the teaching workforce…