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 1019.

    This should be extended to all suitable professionals who have been made redundant, why should people who are motivated to kill get special treatment?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1018.

    While there are doubtless some ex-servicemen who are inspiring and talented enough to become teachers, they are also inspiring and talented enough to do something under their own steam in the private sector. I have serious misgivings about fast tracking teachers, who are a huge influence on our kids, from a pool of people who chose to go into killing as their first choice career.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1017.

    995. J

    You forget the 3 years that will have been spent before that doing a degree
    Two years is probably quite adequate for the type of personal selected, they will have already had bags of experience dealing with stroppy teens and post teens. also in imparting knowledge to others. Surely a prerequisite for Teaching why not others with the right skills but non military.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1016.

    993. loopy

    "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!"

    Experience of teaching 30+ teenagers, all day, every day? Put them in a school for a day and you'll soon find they need as much training and experience as everyone else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1015.

    996 couldn't agree more. We have just been told our kids have to be moved about because one individual is disrupting the whole year, and he has to be accomodated. How about they deal with him, and leave the rest alone. A week of boot camp would be start

  • rate this

    Comment number 1014.

    @998.BadlyPackedKebab - "...judging by the grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors ... from the 'net!"

    Hi Kebab. Agree with you re errors coming out of schools themselves. Not only from the pupils. Shocking really.

    The system is broken. This suggestion (forces to teachers) won't fix it by itself, but it's not a terrible idea.

    All these sweeping generalisations are more worrying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1013.

    156. DPressed
    Well all those years studying didn't teach you to read things properly, this will only be open to those with technical trades and experience of teaching/mentoring roles. Experiences that will APEL across well, and like you they will do specific training to become equipped to teach.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1012.

    The four schemes sharing the £2m funding are Commando Joes' in Cheshire etc etc.

    Good grief - 2015 can't come soon enough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1011.

    5) This smacks of a money saving/PR exercise - covering up the huge cuts to the Forces and massaging unemployment figures by offering a direct route into teaching.
    6) I understand that many soldiers already teach in the Forces. However teaching people who have CHOSEN to join the Forces and are used to the military form of discipline, is not the same as teaching bored/violent Year 10 children

  • rate this

    Comment number 1010.

    To all the people correctly pointing out that many ex-services people are educated to degree level, I'd like to respectfully point out that that is not the point. Those people could apply to train as teachers through the normal channels (albeit being funded to do so). It's the ex-service people without degrees that people are concerned about.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1009.

    984.Cockney365 "How can two years on the job training be as good as four years doing a teaching degree?"

    Teachers dont have to do 4 years getting a teaching degree, they can get any old degree and top it up with another year. So 1 years teacher training gets you in on top of a degree in David Beckham Studies but squadies do 2 years on the job. They can teach my kids any day!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1008.

    941. AuntieLeft Yet despite all of the august, practical people you have met, you remain mired in subjective generalisms and stereotypes and are quite prepared to form opinions upon your own constructed notions of what values are contained with 'left' and 'right'. Shame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1007.

    I say MPs should be trained to work in the shops, the schools, as cleaners, tradesmen, labourers, army privates etc etc...and give them a taste of what the REAL world is like outside the M25 corridor.

    Crazy out of touch fantasists live within it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1006.

    No idea why they bother. I trained as a science teacher (BSc science and 10 years in IT at the time), I didn't get an interview then. When 10 years later I was redundant I tried again - 200 applications 0 interviews. One job employed the sports teacher who had no science O level instead of interviewing me. There is no shortage of teachers, no space for outsiders and no willingness to talk to us

  • rate this

    Comment number 1005.

    987. hic_et_ubique wrote:'Degrees are not uncommon amongst "squaddies"...Many personnel join the military from university, are they not deemed good enough for the teaching profession?''

    If they have the appropriate degrees for teaching (see DfE website) great! Let them do a full-time PGCE and pay the tuition fees like everyone else in England! If not, study and train for 4 years and then teach!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1004.

    The whole notion of fast tracking people from a certain sector is deeply unfair, any fast tracking should go to people with a passion for teaching or who have the relevant qualifications and it should be available to everyone not just ex serviceman who are being made redundant, yes give them support to find a job. Who else get paid to study another profession while rest has spend years retraining.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1003.

    Can a teacher logically explain to any of our forces personal & indeed us ALL ,why we need wonderful charities like "Help for Hero's" & "Combat Stress"?,for a profession that is "so important,fulfilling,and much appreciated by us all",according to politicians,to raise tens of millions of £s(very small sums),that should & could be simply dealt with by central Government?,thanks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1002.

    Why just teaching. Surely if they are so "highly skilled" then they can be fast-tracked into all sorts of professions that normally require training. 3 months to become a doctor - not a problem; 2 weeks to learn law - go ahead; 1 day to be an architect - why not? They've got "the skills" they can do anything, it's not as if the govt is deliberately trying to pick a fight with the teachers is it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1001.


    "Many servicemen and women are very technically minded and highly educated"

    Not from the ranks they're not- NCO's and Officers yes.

    "Degrees are not uncommon amongst "squaddies"

    Yes they are. Do you even know what a "squaddie" is?

    "Many personnel join the military from university"

    They become Officers yes, or specialist Engineers/Bomb Disposal etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1000.

    I find it laughable that some teachers are leaving messages critical of a two year training phase instead of their four year course. Most degrees are a years worth of information stretched out over three and not particularly taxing.
    Those who have served in HM Forces should be afforded more advantages post service than those who have not. They have sacrificed more and have more to offer than most.


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