7 Jun 2013

Attention! Troops fast-tracked to teachers in two years

Former soldiers with no degree can enrol to train in schools from next year – and become qualified in half the normal time – under a government drive to bring a military ethos to the classroom.

Attention! Troops fasttracked to teachers in two years (G)

They may be used to armed combat in Afghanistan or Iraq. But now the government wants seasoned soldiers to consider life in a different battle zone: the school classroom.

From next January, ex-service personnel with no degree, but with experience of working as a coach or mentor with children, will be able to enrol on a teacher training course that can be completed in two years – half the time it takes for a standard route into teaching via a degree and teacher training qualification.

For those former military personnel who already have a degree, they will be offered bursaries and enrolment on teacher training courses with extra bespoke training from September next year.

A military ethos belongs in the military. Schools need a learning ethos – Brian Lightman, ASCL

The two schemes launched on Friday are part of the Government’s Troops to Teachers programme.

The move is part of a bid by ministers to encourage members of the Army, Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy to consider teaching as a career, said Education Minister David Laws. The department of education stressed that the selection process for potential teachers would be rigorous.

Military expertise

But the leader of the headteachers’ union raised concerns that the schemes would not provide participants with the right preparation and support for teaching, and warned against creating a “military ethos” in schools.

Veterans with no degree will be trained in schools four days a week, with one day a week in university, and on a salary of 80 per cent of a non-qualified teacher’s pay rate.

We want to capture the ethos and talents of those leaving the armed forces, and bring this experience into teaching – David Laws

They will gain have a degree and qualified teacher status (QTS) when they graduate, said the department of education.

Mr Laws said: “Many members of our inspiring armed forces possess the skills and expertise relevant and transferable to the classroom – leadership, discipline, motivation and teamwork. Every child can benefit from having these values instilled in them.

“We want to capture the ethos and talents of those leaving the armed forces, and bring this experience into teaching.”

Headteachers’ concern

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said the scheme did not provide enough support for would-be teachers.

“For those without a degree, one day a week at university over a two-year course is not enough,” he said.

“Classroom experience is important but there is whole body of knowledge about learning, brain development, behaviour, not to mention specific subject content, that they will need. A 50/50 split of practical to theoretical study is more realistic.”

He also rejected the government’s plans for creating a military ethos in schools.

“A military ethos belongs in the military,” said Mr Lightman. “Schools need a learning ethos.”

The announcement is the latest move in the government’s bid to bring military experience to schools.

The launch of the scheme follows an announcement in December of four new projects which aim to send former soldiers into classrooms to instil discipline and raise results among troubled youngsters.

Under the £1.9m initiative, the projects are expected to pass on values taught in the military to children who have been excluded from school, Education Secretary Michael Gove said. Plans have also been announced to expand school-based cadets and raise the child premium for service families.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the scheme would beneft veterans and the young people they are teaching. “A career in the Armed Forces provides skills and experience you cannot gain anywhere else, and I would encourage anyone leaving the services to take the opportunity to pass on their invaluable knowledge and instil respect, discipline and pride in the next generation,” he added.