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 1279.

    I've been hearing this for about the last 15 years on and off. I've got to say I am shocked though by all the anti-forces rhetoric on here, you should all be ashamed! There are many highly educated people with degrees across all the ranks, not just NCOs and officers. Soldiers from corps like the Intelligence Corps & Royal Engineers would give a lot of teachers a run for their money!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1278.

    1248 Moneydude
    Agree here too.
    As a 1960s day release/evening class HNC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1277.

    145. Onesmaw. The scheme hasn't started yet so if standards are dropping it's down to existing teachers who've followed the usual route. Many commenters have strange or ill-informed ideas of military discipline. When you're asking poeople to risk their lives on the strength of your decisions as a leader, you'd better involve ebveryone in developing your plan and you'd better have "buy in" too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1276.

    1263 The best people to teach are .... teachers.
    Yes - teachers with experience of life, just like these service men and women.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1275.

    1267, so why didn't your daughter do a degree in a subject that was relevant, if she wanted to be a teacher??

    These troops will have had huge worldy experiences, more so than the first two years of Uni, which from memory is a drink filled waste of two years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1274.

    Sounds like something from "The Wall" by Pink Floyd.

    Another bizarre idea from a bizarre Government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1273.

    @1262 Kiteman
    They'll be forced to by General Gove !

  • Comment number 1272.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1271.

    It seems that having a degree means you can charge a premium for your services a bit like a centre forward is worth more than a centre half, when in reality both are part of the team and are lost without each other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1270.

    1237.paulmerhaba 1221. Moneydude

    'Everything has been professionalised. Politicians, lawyers and unions to blame?'

    Historically speaking the Tories & Liberals in 1918 opposed the Fisher Education Act that laid the foundations for State education up to age of 18. It has taken almost 100 years for that Act to be finally implemented!

    Tories prefer dumbed-down Victorian 'Sunday school' teaching!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1269.

    I'm sure many soldiers can "do discipline", "team working" and "leadership". Once the pupils are disciplined, teamed up and led ...... then they need to be taught simultaneous equations, Hamlet and Newton's laws of motion.
    How will the last bit work?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1268.

    A number of people I knew are school went into the forces. At school most did not do that well intellectually but after they had been in for a while in a vocation structured environment they excelled. Previous administrations and the current teaching unions are still obsessed with intellectual over vocational and these are just the people we need to show kids that being bad at exams is not the end

  • rate this

    Comment number 1267.

    My daughter has a first class degree but would have to pay £9000 to train as a teacher as her's is not a specialist subject. yet these " troops" with no degree are going to get an easy ride into teaching. I have been taught by former soldiers fast tracked under the same sort of system after WW2 and they were rubbish. This is a shocking proposal I hope all the teaching unions strike .

  • Comment number 1266.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1265.

    Yet another cashing in of the much hyped 'Help for Heroes' campaign - Yes they are brave, yes they do a good job, yes they are paid, yes they volunteer. That doesn't make them the answer to all our woes.To hear the over-the-top adulation of the armed forces nowadays you'd think it was the 'second coming'

  • rate this

    Comment number 1264.

    The government don't care who teaches working class kids - but they will make sure their kids are taught by the best, in the best surroundings and with the best resources. Class sizes are rocketing in state schools and it wont be long before Grandma and Grandad are enrolled to cut costs in the classroom.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1263.

    1255. ciconia

    ' My teachers at senior school in the 1950s were often ex service men. They weren't boot stamping Neanderthals either. '


    Whoow . . hold on there . . no ones accused them of being that. Just maybe that the best people to teach and with experience of teaching are . . wait for it . . TEACHERS !

  • rate this

    Comment number 1262.

    Ex-forces staff training as teachers? Not a problem.

    Cut the training time from four to two years? Absolutely not.

    Such a practise will cost a fortune, and result in hundreds of unemployed ex-forces, because schools under pressure to hit targets will not hire staff with half the *relevant* training of other candidates.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1261.

    This is not about turning our schools into military accademies. It is about using the great motivational skills and life experiences gained by our military and also about rewarding them for the service they have already given. But the bottom line will always be they will need to be interviewed by their prospective employers and will only be selected if they are right for the job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1260.

    2) Lots of kids these days don't want to learn.....they enjoy no discipline at home because their parents are useless at everything.

    Wrong. Kids want to learn, but they learn in different ways. Some by doing, some by being shown, some by reading, etc.

    As one teacher said to me, "If they don't get it, I'm teaching it to them the wrong way!"


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