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 59.

    Most people go into the armed forces because they like the discipline, to be told what to do, the security, and to obey orders without question.

    Teaching in schools should be about thinking for yourself, understanding what is reasonable, and questioning established principles.

    Anybody see a conflict here?

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.


  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Here we have the opportunity to feed into the education system people who have worked with the most cutting edge technology this country owns. Moreover, you have military discipline and standards to go with it. What else do you want, a spotty 21 year old, straight out of University, with practically no life skills but can just about tell you what the latest definition of epistemology is?

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    After WWII a similar system was set up to recruit teachers and provide a new career path for demobbed soldiers. A good knowledge base and strong discipline being the important requirements at that time.

    Education has moved on and is now more complex - requiring a greater range of skills and abilities.

    Feel it is finding a new career for those losing military jobs. Will suit the 'old school'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    They may have proven themselves as able men and women whilst in the armed forces, but if they struggled themselves at school or at best were simply average pupils why should we expect them to become accomplished teachers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    As long as they can teach this is a great idea. I would suggest installing these teachers in inner city London schools. I have taught in such schools and most of the kids are out of control, do not respect teachers and are obssessed with their 'rights'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    There was a similar programme at the end of WWII. They only got only one year's training, but it produced some very good teachers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Before you make a commment like the one you have, you clearly do not understand that in the Army we "teach" 16-21 year olds a number of classes. We are trained to do this in a very "civilian" orientated school and at no stage do we beat dicipline into them.

    I assume you are a teacher who is probably looking at strike action for getting more pay for being "too stressed".

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    I think in theroy this seems a good idea. But why special treatment for Armed Forces ?. Fell this is yet another move by the governemt that will backfire. Just becasue you have been in the army doesn't mean you can automatically discipline kids !

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    They are not saying it is for all ex-soldiers but it will work for some. Junior NCO's spend a lot of time educating teenagers as it is so for the right ones it will be a very good move and they should not be excluded because they have not got a degree.
    As long as the right screening is done I think this is an excellent idea

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Last time I looked the government required secondary school teachers to have a 2:1 degree or better in their subject and are aiming to make a Masters degree the minimum qualification for all teachers in the future. Whilst I have no problem with employing ex-services personnel (two of my current collegues are ex-services) I am not sure how a two year course will bring them up to the required level.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    "Schools aren't about discipline anymore" - you are joking, aren't you? If one of our teachers said that (I'm a school governor) I'd have them infront of the Head before they could take another breath! Teaching is a mixture skills, including discipline. How can you instill self-discipline into a child without showing them what it is? You're supposed to be equipping them for life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    This is intended to belittle teachers: it implies that there's no discipline in schools, that the kids need a dose of 'getyeraircut' to make them behave, that anyone can teach. All this is false, just as the idea that all ex-Forces people are foaming martinets. It'll play well with the ill-informed, which is what Dave and Co aim at every time. Mind you, it works because some will believe anything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    2 Minutes ago
    There's no need for any form of discipline as schools kick out anyone who affects league table statistics.


    That is why so many sprogs are useless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    With these wonderful ideas from Gove. Whats next? Court marshall for unruly pupils!! Also will the ex- service people be allowed to keep their guns! Will Gove lead from example? I think not!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Maybe they should be fast tracked to be police officers, much more suited to their training and background. However some could make great teachers in much tougher schools if they are giving the right support as they have dealt with tougher situations than most Uni Graduates have dealt with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    22. Obania
    "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?"
    I was a squaddy. My army income paid for a BSc in Genetics then an MSc in Clinical biochemistry. While serving I did BIT (basic instructional techniques) 1 & 2 so had some formal teacher training- useful when I got a job at a university.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    One of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. How on earth does working in the armed forces qualify someone for teaching children? It makes a mockery of the whole profession.
    I actually know an ex-army fellow who finished his teaching qualification but hasn't passed his NQT year because he hasn't got enough skills in relating to children, motivating them or imparting knowledge to them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    And when teaching standards decline due to this ill thought-out measure, no doubt Gove will use it as an excuse to privatise education.

    Along with the NHS. I am glad the Tories are set to lose in 2015.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    6. rideforever - What are you babbling about??? Slaves, Elite?? Discipline has completely broken down in most schools and if it takes ex-services personnel to be able to put it back in place then it just shows what a complete farce the education system has become; destroyed by its softly, softly approach and later failing its failed pupils who find out the big wide world doesn't owe them a living.


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