Ex-troops without degrees to train as teachers


Lance Bolton: 'Teaching is a very rewarding career - as was the forces - so for me it was a natural step'

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Former armed forces personnel without degrees will be fast-tracked into teaching in England under a new government programme.

The Troops to Teachers scheme will help "highly skilled" former military personnel become teachers within two years.

Education Minister David Laws said ex-members of "our inspiring armed forces" could make great teachers.

Teaching unions doubted whether two years' training would be enough.

According to the Department for Education (DfE), service leavers without degrees "will be the only people able to start training as a teacher without a degree and be qualified within two years".

'Outstanding' potential

The DfE stressed that the scheme would use a rigorous assessment, selection and recruitment process to identify those "with the potential to become outstanding teachers".

From January 2014 those selected for the scheme will earn a salary, training four days a week on-the-job in classrooms around England and one day at university.

After two years' training they will count as 'newly qualified teachers' and will have gained an honours degrees in education, specialising either as secondary school subject teachers or as primary teachers.

Start Quote

"We know that our highly-skilled servicemen and women can inspire young people and help raise educational attainment." ”

End Quote David Laws Education Minister

A DfE spokesman stressed that top military specialists often have relevant experience, particularly in science and technology which could help redress the shortage of teachers in some subjects.

Many military personnel also have experience of "teaching, instructing, mentoring and coaching" which would count as credits towards the degree, says the government.

The government also wants to attract former service staff who have degrees into teaching, and is offering a range of training options to them under the scheme.

Mr Laws said military values such as leadership, discipline, motivation, and teamwork would benefit children.

"We want to capture the ethos and talents of those leaving the armed forces and bring this experience into teaching. We know that our highly-skilled servicemen and women can inspire young people and help raise educational attainment."

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said both veterans and their young pupils would gain from the scheme.

"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".

'Learning ethos'

Teachers' leaders offered a cautious welcome to the contribution that ex-forces personnel could make to teaching, but Chris Keates of the NASUWT warned of a difference between maintaining military discipline and ensuring good behaviour in classrooms.

"To say you can simply transfer the skills from one to the other is an oversimplification of the complexities of dealing with pupil behaviour in schools," she said.

Brian Lightman, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said one day a week at university was not enough for trainee teachers without degrees.

Head teacher Mike Tull: "Discipline within a military context is fundamentally different to within a school or a classroom context"

"There is no doubt that some ex-military personnel have the potential to make excellent teachers, but they need the right preparation and support.

"From what we've seen so far, this programme lacks both... a military ethos belongs in the military. Schools need a learning ethos."

Christine Blower, of the National Union of Teachers, said: "Teaching is a wonderful profession and we welcome applicants from all walks of life who feel they can make the commitment to teach, including ex-military personnel.

"However, teaching involves a complex mix of knowledge, skills and understanding of child development and trainees need both a high level of education themselves and thorough teacher training before they can take on the demands of educating our young people.

Russell Hobby, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "It seems predicated on the notion that military service automatically makes someone a good teacher, whereas the reality is, some will make brilliant teachers and some won't."

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said Labour supported re-training troops as teachers but said the government had been too slow to do it.

"It has taken three years for Michael Gove just to launch this scheme, and during that time only a handful of volunteers have come forward".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    The Con-Dems have lost the plot!

    Soon they will be recruiting ex-Islamic terrorists to serve as male nurses, or maybe captured Syrian rebels to serve as Policemen......

    Cheap, nasty, ineffective and stupid!

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    What a fantastic and pragmatic idea! Some real common sense thinking for a change. Just ignore the naysayers as they are simply wrong! Roll on better disciplined and respectful kids!

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Given the low standards of teaching these days, ex military who are motivated and have the will to succeed will have no problem is showing up the current crop of teachers. Being ex military they will not whine about the short hours or long holidays either. Bring it on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    We want the best people teaching our children, some former soldiers will be great teachers, some will not. However they should have to meet the same standards as other teachers. Why can they not get a degree whilst in the forces as preparation? We certainly do not want ex soldiers shouting at kids like a bullying sergent major, thinking this will help them to learn.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Anna Next

    "Schools aren't supposed to be about discipline any more, that's not the way to get the best out of children."

    Obviously much of your education wasn't ruined by other children out of control in the classroom.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Never heard of anything more ridicules in all my puff.

    Isn't there a severe over supply of teachers? All I ever hear is that Newley qualified teachers can't get jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    @14 Shabutie; Your prejudices betray you.

    Authoritarian attitude? God forbid that children should experience discipline in the classroom.

    I'd be very happy to have a teacher with experience of remaining calm in the face of provocation and pressure.

    Teachers are just humans who have been taught how to teach. No reason why service men and women can't do just as well if not better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Of course they will do a great job because teaching is so easy and it is just like fighting the Taliban. They won't know what PTSD is until they have done a term in a rough school. The whole idea smacks of desperation and most of that desperation is to save money and sod the Education System.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Being headboy at my school i see both many former-army soldiers/officers turned teachers alongside the usual grads, and the difference is that the grads that come to our school come and go in about 2 years, to move on up, whilst the army ones realise the authority they have and choose to stay to give the young people at our school a greater chance of success. Good idea if you have the right people

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Gove is utterly clueless. Soldiers aren't going to have the right skills for this.

    This measure smacks of Gove's macho posturing and nothing else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    @25. jgm2 said: "at primary level, anybody who can do their times tables and string a sentence together would be able to do the job. "

    Enough people with an attitude like yours and I can see why England's the laughing stock of the modern world. Voted Tory at the last election, by any chance? You could be an advisor to Gove...

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Some may make good teachers, many won't so fast tracking is a bad idea without careful selection process.

    Also how will they answer a pupil's question such as "Based on the fact that the reasons given for the Iraq war were complete lies, and Afghanistan was a war of revenge and both wars failed and caused and are causing many deaths of innocents was the sacrifice of our forces pointless?",

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    I am sorry - teaching is totally different from being in the Armed Forces and just because someone has had military style discipline beaten into them doesn't mean that this is an acceptable, workable or desirable in the classroom.

    Existing teachers who have spent years at Uni and teacher-training will again feel undervalued to see these people fast-tracked (undertrained?) into their jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Not all X-service people will make good teachers. However, they can be "weeded" out just like anyone else. It seems that there are not many teachers that inspire pupils these days, perhaps someone with real-life experience will

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    9 Anna

    'How undermining for the teachers who have spent 4 years or more training to be in the same position'

    I thought 95% of 'em trained for one year by getting a PGCE. In any case, at primary level, anybody who can do their times tables and string a sentence together would be able to do the job. You don't need four years training to organise finger-painting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    As long as they do the stipulated several years training in child development, the necessary degrees and specialised training plus have a teachable skill (Physics, pure maths, history, English, etc.) otherwise it will be a waste of time. There's no need for any form of discipline as schools kick out anyone who affects league table statistics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Yet another stupid idea from this Con/LibDem Government. No doubt there will be another U turn.

    Why are these political parties going out of their way to totally destroy their credibility with the electorate?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    "So, sir, could you explain the derivation of that equation" asks a pupil to his physics teacher.

    "I dunno, its 'cos I is a squaddy, innit?"

    OK, unfair, perhaps, but then again, if Colonel Patrick Mercer MP is stupid enough to say the things that were aired on Panorama last night, then perhaps its not so unfair after all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Caretaker at my high school was said to be an ex Royal Marine or ex SAS. That may or may not have been true, but everybody knew not to mess with him. This guy had a habit of being everywhere at once, never missed a trick.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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