Ex-soldiers will help build pupils’ character

Tristram Hunt has called on schools to help pupils overcome adversity, and former soldiers will be drafted into schools to help them achieve this. 

“I want to see the great British spirit in all our classrooms,” the Shadow Education Secretary told delegates at a conference run by the Demos think tank. “As our young people face growing rivalry for jobs, high-status apprenticeships and the best university places, it becomes more and more important for schools to coach pupils about character.” he said.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan thinks ex-armed services personnel may be the solution to help school children develop self-confidence, respect and leadership, the Independent reports. Former troops will attend schools and PRUs to instil a military-style ethos. “For pupils who may have faced challenges or difficulties in their personal life, these initiatives run by former armed services personnel can help build the skills and confidence they need to go on to successful futures,” she said.

The agreement between the Tory and Labour politicians stems from a growing realisation that running schools like ‘exam factories’ is not producing the type of young person needed to compete in a globalised economy.

Do you agree that pupils should be encouraged to learn these skills to become more rounded students? Are former soldiers the right people to teach such skills? Is a ‘military’ approach too heavy handed or could today’s young people benefit from it?

9 thoughts on “Ex-soldiers will help build pupils’ character

  1. Ex military personnel may have a role to play in enabling character building, IF they are subject to careful recruitment and scrutiny. I would limit their involvement to holiday programmes for targeted KS3 students. Outdoor education, bush craft and survival skills have been shown to foster spiritual development. The British question is a political and unhelpful distraction.

  2. If you want to overcome adversity then why not ask teachers who have been in the job for about 25 years and who have being doing precisely this through consecutive conservative and labour administrations who have both used education as a political beach ball. Happy Christmas everyone… :)

  3. Hunt is a total and utter fool …………. private eduaction followed by Oxbridge and totally removed from the reality of ordinary people in the state system ………. add to he is Labour because he wants to secure a post which requires no special training, experience or skills ….. why oh why listen to people like him? Soldiers in classrooms has been tried and failed …… they cope less well than regular teachers because when they realise they have no power and no support ….. they cleverly march out to find more rewarding work.

    Hunt – go spend 4 weeks in an inner city state school rated as ‘good’ and smell the coffee…. !

  4. Such a strange thing to do!!
    instead support teachers by loosening their chains and let them teach.
    Why soldiers anyhow rather than the local newsagent who works long hours or the cleaner who has dedicated many years of service to one venue.
    Children need to learn how to contribute their skills and potential to the world not become dependent on orders and learn to interfere in many cases where they are not needed.

  5. I agree with this article up to a point, but I think that a soldier that ‘qualifies as a teacher’ who then is actually part and parcel of the classroom would provide a much better role model and be able to impart their character moulding skills through example. Speaking as as a former HM forces member I think that such a military mindset would be of particular benefit, especially to boys, but seeing as teachers in general, not all of them, are of the progressive mindset they would probably balk at such an article seeing soldiers as part of the non-thinking obedient to authority class, a pity.

  6. I retrained as a primary school teacher after serving as a police officer with GMP. I definitely brought different skills into the classroom but learned a whole set of new and very relevant ones from my colleagues most of which have only ever taught and non of them are from any progressive mindset, whatever that really means! Of course people from all walks of life are able to teach and they are welcomed. I was! However. I agree totally with the first comment – we know that the better school systems in Europe are non-political, stop using teaching as a political football.

  7. I personally think that this could be a very good idea, I wouldn’t say that it would suit every child or would even be needed for every child but there are certainly those who would benefit greatly from this kind of opportunity. I’d say that those who are shy or those who are withdrawn and rebellious against rules and social normal conventions could really see some benefit from doing something different to help bring out other qualities (which everyone possesses) which would never normally be found or drawn out in a classroom. I certainly don’t think that this would be the kind of thing that could be taught (for want of a better word) in classrooms as that isn’t the right environment in which to develop the skills that this initiative is trying to build. I have seen similar schemes/training weeks for young adults looking to join the military run over the course of a week and it’s amazing to see how much those on the course can come out of their shell in such a short space of time. I also think that some teachers could benefit from the skills that these courses offer, there’s good reason why some employers spend thousands sending their employees on similar training weekends to develop confidence, team building and leadership skills in their staff.

    I think that the image of soldiers screaming and balling in pupils faces in order to get them to do what they want to is a long way from the truth of how this scheme would work. True leaders inspire people to do things that they don’t really want to do with words of encouragement and motivation, not through fear, aggression or threats. Soldiers are extremely capable of getting people to do things that they would normally think are completely beyond them with the result of a feeling of satisfaction and achievement once the task is done. I don’t think this would be heavy handed at all and it doesn’t need to be, I just don’t think that education is all about sitting down in a classroom learning subjects that may never be of any use to someone in later life. A lot kids are missing out on key life skills that this kind of coaching would give them and then serve purpose to them in whatever they do in later in life.

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