Troops to Teachers, Dreams to Dust

190215 blog

Despite costing millions, a flagship scheme to bring ex-servicemen and women to England’s classrooms has only seen 28 veterans qualify as teachers since it started in 2014. Due to the low numbers qualifying the Labour Party has labelled the scheme a ‘flop’ and believe it is further evidence of the government’s failure to “get a hold” on the teacher recruitment crisis.

The former Education Secretary Michael Gove had hoped to attract 2,000 applicants to the £4.3m Troops to Teachers scheme. Since the scheme began in 2014, a total of 551 applications had applied to gain their qualified teacher status (QTS). In the programme’s first year, 41 individuals applied to the course and since then 28 out of 29 who completed the programme have achieved qualified teacher status (QTS).

The fact that the Troops to Teachers scheme has so far only recruited just a sixth of its target number over the past two years of operation was highlighted by the Shadow Education secretary, Lucy Powell. Mrs Powell believes that the current government “urgently need a proper strategy for teacher recruitment which includes ex veterans for whom this could make a great second career.”

Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said “it has long been known that the headline-grabbing ‘Troops to Teachers’ would not translate into significant numbers entering the teaching profession.” Mrs Blower continued to add “to those ex-Forces who did qualify and are teaching, we say welcome. To the government we say I told you so.”

It was back in 2008, when the then shadow education secretary Michael Gove, backed a UK version of an American programme to get ex-servicemen and women teaching in England’s schools. The programme is part of the Department for Education’s commitment to the cross-government Military Covenant, which aims to help support service leavers get back into civilian life. Teaching unions have consistently warned the government that there is no direct correlation between a good service record and being a good teacher. Ministers however are convinced that the scheme is good and that it can still be successful.

A DfE spokesman branded the figures as a ‘misleading and unfair portrayal’ of the scheme.  He said “the 28 graduates referred to are the first trainees to be recruited and complete their two year course at the end of December. A further two cohorts are being trained right now which means that more than 140 former troops will soon be working in our classrooms.” The Conservative Party criticised Labour for expressing “negativity” about teaching, “Lucy Powell is twisting figures to paint a negative picture about the programme.”

So is Lucy Powell correct to call this scheme a ‘flop’? Or is the scheme just finding its feet and worth the amount of money spent on Troops to Teachers? Should the government continue to fund the scheme? Or do you think the government should be looking to implement a new strategy and make the profession more attractive to potential teachers? What do you think? Have your say…

10 thoughts on “Troops to Teachers, Dreams to Dust

  1. So what are you doing to attract people into teaching? 28 amazing people qualified and all you can do is vilify the scheme because it was a Gove idea. Shame on you and your shoddy, recycled journalism.

  2. I was on the program and graduated with cohort 1 in December. We were not your usual trainee teachers straight from school and uni. Yes 28 of us graduated out of 50+ but if those that did not some left due to family reasons, some due to financial reasons, some through illness and some due to incredible stress that goes with a full time job in a very stressful environment coupled with degree assignments. We all worked extremely hard, I myself, am a single parent and struggled to complete the course along with the stress that comes with raising a teenager. All this negative press that my course has received diminishes the hard work, dedication and resourcefulness that my fellow graduates have shown over the past 2 years. Labour continually lambasted us as a failed initiative, the NQT have continually classed us as uneducated imbeciles that do not belong in the classroom and yet not one person from these institutions bothered to interact with the course in the 2 years I was training.
    We are proud to have completed the degree and as we enter our NQT year we face the stress of this final year along with continual negativity.
    Yes we served our country, yes we are now teachers, no we did not fail, we continue to serve our country by educating the new generation of leaders, politicians and innacurate reporters.

  3. The problem is that this has not been publicised to schools . We found out about this last year and accepted a former service man to train at our school. It is a brilliant scheme and he is proving to develop into a good teacher !
    The troops come in with maturity and a good level of discipline and a good work ethic. It is proving to be beneficial in our school for the children and the service man . We are hoping to recruit another one next year . Definitely not a flop .

  4. Unfair to take one side of the argument, which has yet to see any of us ‘in action’ in the classroom.

    Regurgitated information, and misleading – the initial cohort were always going to be smaller in number, as is proven by the fact there are over 100 still training in cohorts 2 and 3.

    The expectation was for over 2000 ‘applicants’ as opposed to qualified teachers – the scheme is still open, so still able to achieve that number.

    How does the dropout rate (a little over 25%) compare to others routes into teaching (3 years for a degree and 1 year PGCE)?

    The bottom line: The scheme is there to help service leavers train into a new career. Having spent a quarter of a century in one department of the public sector, I see no reason why I wont spend the next quarter century in another department (but negative spin is not helping the cause)

  5. Can you explain firstly why comments aren’t showing on this blog and, secondly, why are you choosing to illustrate this piece with an American uniform?

  6. So, doing the maths, over a two year course, £4.3K divided by 140 is just over £30K, that’s just over £15K per year of training, just below what the on the job training salary advertised in the bursary section of the Dfe site. In someways, it seems like the ex services guys are getting something of a bum steer compared to new graduates. But look at the numbers going through the course, over a quarter dropped out before the end. Tallies with numbers not completing the course or gaining QTS. The problem with teacher recruitment lies deep in the heart of what is happening to the profession in general at the moment. It’s not getting people in that’s the problem, it’s keeping them there.

  7. Hi Colin

    Comments appear on the blog unless they are judged to need approval. The picture (although not correct with a american uniform) was picked as it was a representation of the matter being discussed.


  8. Why are the only comparisons being made of ex services personnel and those straight from school? Teaching has always attracted a proportion of non-standard recruits, with experience outside of teaching.
    I qualified as a teacher in my forties, with 30 years experience of other workplaces and as a mother of children in secondary education then. Despite not being ‘from a forces background’, I had a good work ethic, wide experience and coped with the issues of being a parent of teenagers, concurrent with training. There was a 30-something ex army sergeant on my course, not part of a packaged brand but as an individual being supported for entry into any new profession, as all ex army personnel were when leaving the forces.

    I know of one of the new army recruits in the current cohort who, now qualified, is off to work abroad!!

  9. Hi Barry,
    Having left the Navy two years ago, im interested in applying for troops to teachers. Having been someone who has completed the course I wanted to ask a few questions etc. Would I be able to pm you?

    Many thanks,


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