UK & World News
Military-Style Training For Unruly Children
Former soldiers are to be drafted into schools to pass on military-style values of teamwork, discipline and leadership to expelled pupils under a £1.9m Government initiative.
Ministers hope the four projects, which aim to engage and motivate troubled youngsters through mentoring in the classroom and outdoor activities, will improve their behaviour and grades.
Last year, only 1.5% of pupils in alternative provision - those who have been excluded from mainstream education - achieved at least five GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and maths. This is 40 times worse than those in mainstream education.
Announcing the action, Education Secretary Michael Gove said: "Every child can benefit from the values of a military ethos.
"Self-discipline and teamwork are at the heart of what makes our Armed Forces the best in the world - and are exactly what all young people need to succeed.
"Exclusion from school should never mean exclusion from education.
"These projects are helping pupils in alternative provision reach their full potential and are helping to close the attainment gap."
Some £600,000 of the funding is going to Commando Joes' in Cheshire; £700,000 to Challenger Troop in Tunbridge Wells, Kent; £400,000 to Knowsley Skills Academy in Prescot, Merseyside; and £200,000 to Newcastle-based SkillForce.
All four ventures use activities including one-to-one mentoring, military-style obstacle courses and team-building exercises to pass on values taught in the military to children.
They also help re-integrate pupils and prepare them for post-16 courses or jobs, as well as helping primary school children in their move to secondary education.
Former bomb disposal expert Mike Hamilton, director of Commando Joes', said: "The instructors are all ex-military personnel - they are role models and kids look up to and aspire to be like them.
"When we go to a school playground children hang on every word.
"In some of the deprived areas we work in, young people have not got grassy areas or anywhere to go. When they come to our sessions they get a chance to socialise in a different way, to be part of a team.
"Our motto is No Child Left Behind - we will work with every child and young person to help them feel motivated to learn and be part of their school and community again."
The boost is part of a wider aim to bolster links between the Armed Forces and schools, including expansion of the school-based cadets, developing the Troops to Teachers programme and a rise in the Service Children's Premium for service children.