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 999.

    "How many bosses would be happy to take on an ex-military person for a job?"
    Had one at our mill taken on as a Manager ..... he was an idiot ... didn't have a clue, or any experience ....couldn't handle people at all .. real bossy little ****

    "Is there any topic that you can't pull down to your racist .. standpoint?"
    Gospel Choirs, Black Lawyers Assoc.?

  • rate this

    Comment number 998.

    'So many people of the thread are living advertisements for the failures of the education system'

    ....and judging by the grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors on every English homework sheet that my daughter is issued with from school I can understand where the fault may lie.

    Apparently though it's not the teachers fault - they just print it from the 'net!

  • rate this

    Comment number 997.

    How can two years on the job training from someone without specialist knowledge be as good as four years doing a teaching degree?
    Most teachers that I know did a three year degree (no teaching bias) and then a 1 year PGCE during which most of them only attended a handful of lectures a week. This is not a "four year" teaching degree at all. How is two years on the job worse?

  • rate this

    Comment number 996.

    Ex-squaddies running separate boot camps for the few ill-disciplined kids (with a mixture of vocational and academic subjects) would be a better use of their skills, better for the kids that need a bit more 'structure' in their lives, and better for the kids that want to actually learn.

  • rate this

    Comment number 995.


    You forget the 3 years that will have been spent before that doing a degree. Whether or not the degree is necessary in most peoples eyes or not is irrelevant as it is a requirement. The fact of the matter is that one group of people is allowed to do it without having to have done a degree, and everyone else cannot. That seems to be the point most people are missing here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 994.

    This is not about raising educational standards. It is about pandering to a populist agenda of percieved lack of discipline in schools.
    The answer is to empower and support teachers to enforce discipline in school. Troops as teachers will do nothing to raise eucational standards.
    The troops would be better trained to train the parents in discipline at home. School cannot replace bad parenting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 993.

    People who are complaining about this don't realise that these soldiers have had training for teaching in the army and already have a great deal of experience. Check your facts before you start whinging!

  • rate this

    Comment number 992.

    979. jgm2
    Of course not. They appear on aeroplanes on the proviso that their parents vote Labour.

    Is there any topic that you can't pull down to your racist "immigrants are the cause of all our problems" standpoint?

  • rate this

    Comment number 991.

    @948.The Roar - "the long holidays and inflated wages that teachers get."

    Ignorant statement. Idiotic, in fact. I know a few teachers. They work bloody hard. that job is no cakewalk. You try it for a while, then talk.

    @970.Norman Brooke - "EITHER OF THE 3 MAIN PARTIES"

    Oh dear.

    So many people of the thread are living advertisements for the failures of the education system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 990.

    This approach was tried after World War 2 and by and large it worked. If you are not cut out to be a teacher then you find out pretty quick.

    Academic qualifications are not everything in teaching or anything else for that matter so I am always puzzled as to why this is made important.

    A family friend who was a soldier bandsman became a music teacher. He loved it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 989.

    To DPressed. Your teaching qualification was a one year PGCE. Two years offers more training not less. The subject qualification may not be a degree (first or second) but would be a qualification.

  • rate this

    Comment number 988.

    4 Minutes ago
    How many bosses would be happy to take on an ex-military person for a job

    Well said, isn't that really one of the big problems - a lot of employers don't want to take on ex-military people - seems counter intuitive in many ways - perhaps 'The Govt.' could look at ways to encourage all employers, not just the State, to take ex-m's on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 987.

    There is a very naive view of a "squaddie" shown by many (with no idea what they are talking about). Many servicemen and women are very technically minded and highly educated. Degrees are not uncommon amongst "squaddies" - where I assume the naive would also lump sailors and airmen. Many personnel join the military from university, are they not deemed good enough for the teaching profession?

  • rate this

    Comment number 986.

    When I was educated in the 50s and 60s nearly all of the male teachers were ex-servicemen as they had been drafted to fight in World War 2.

    I am sure the military influence on pupil discipline helped achieve the high academic standards that were taken for granted back then.

    Who is going to provide better discipline an ex-servicemen or a socialist hippy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 985.

    964.Matt K

    Who says squaddies have teaching skills? And who says teachers lack teaching skills? Some are poor, some are brilliant at what they do. The "strop", I think, is against this sudden sweeping idea that ex-military are what we've all been missing and that current teachers are all hopeless. Without doubt, some will be good in teaching, but so are many who have practised the job for years

  • rate this

    Comment number 984.

    3) I am more than capable of shouting at unruly/dangerous children, I have had to disarm/restrain a few in the school I worked in. Do I get direct entry into the Forces because of this?
    4) If you want the best teachers, you need to train them in the best way. How can two years on the job training from someone without specialist knowledge be as good as four years doing a teaching degree?

  • rate this

    Comment number 983.

    'That's a prime example of the ignorant stupidity that abounds in this thread.'
    What exactly makes ex-soldiers better teachers than others that they can become a teacher without a degree in half the time than somebody who wasn't in the forces? This is just positive discrimination + many of the ppl I know who joined up weren't the brightest of pupils why will they be good teachers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 982.

    It has to be a positive thing that it's recognised that people who don't go School (as a pupil) -> University ->Teacher Training (in schools) -> School (as a teacher), and experience a career outside educational establishments can add value to the education of young people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 981.

    @958 farkyss
    this policy will fail along with everything tried in education since the national curriculum came in.

    MM and who introduced the national curriculum?

  • rate this

    Comment number 980.

    Who would I want to teach my kids?
    a) A 21 yr old straight out of university with no life experience but a degree
    b) Anyone who has had a sucessful career in the real world and 2 years teacher training

    If people actually read this acrticle they would realise that there is still 2 yrs training for them to do. Tthis is a year too much, someone with professional quals (accountant) do it in a year


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