Veterans bring ‘military ethos’ to schools


The Guardian

Growing number of organisations employ ex-servicemen and women to work in schools helping children develop ‘character’.

The pupils of year five at St Aloysius Catholic primary in Roby, Liverpool stand shoulder to shoulder, listening closely as the man in combat trousers and army boots outlines the task ahead.

Dressed in their blue PE shorts and white tops, they stand tall as the instructor speaks. First they have to imagine they are stranded in a desert and work out what they need to survive.

The man in charge of operations, Wayne Barker, used to be a corporal in the Royal Signals, serving 10 years as a communications expert and physical training instructor, putting regiments of 450 soldiers through their paces. He has done tours of Afghanistan and Iraq, and used to live in Germany.

Now, for more than a year, he has been spending three days a week at St Aloysius, bringing the “military ethos” to the school hall and classrooms, instilling “character” in little girls with intricate plaits, and boys with eczema scabs behind their knees.

Barker, 29, is employed by Commando Joe’s, one of a small but growing number of organisations that employ mainly ex-servicemen and women to work in schools with the aim of helping children develop “character” and “resilience”.

These are the new buzzwords at the Department for Education (DfE). Among politicians and policymakers there seems to be a sense that children are lacking the “grit” required in the modern world.

In December the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, announced £4.8m of funding for projects such as Commando Joe’s to help schools instil character in pupils. This month the department invited schools to put themselves forward for the 2015 DfE character awards, with a £20,000 prize.

See more: military in schools/colleges, character building, education, military ethos