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Michael Gove's Classroom Army: Ex-Soldiers Recruited To Give Unruly Pupils A Taste Of Military Discipline

07/12/2012 12:52 | Updated 22 May 2015
Michael Gove's classroom army: Ex-soldiers recruited to give unruly pupils a taste of military disciplineGetty

Badly behaved kids are to be given a kick up the backside – in boot camps run by ex-soldiers.

Ex-servicemen will be employed to help instil military-style discipline in children who have been expelled from mainstream education.

The Government is backing four projects with £1.9 million of taxpayers' money which will use 'military-style obstacle courses to engage and motivate hard-to-reach pupils and help them understand how to transfer the elements which helped them succeed in the classroom'.

Ex-servicemen will also take part in one-to-one mentoring to help pupils address behaviour issues, run a range of indoor and outdoor team-building exercises and build confidence among primary schoolchildren about to make the step into secondary education.

One of the projects to receive investment – around £600,000 - is Cheshire-based Commando Joes', an organisation providing trained mentors for pupils in schools in the most deprived parts of Britain.

Mike Hamilton, a former bomb disposal expert and director of Commando Joes', told the Telegraph: "We teach children the skills we learned in the army. Not everyone wants to be a soldier, but the skills we learn in the military are brilliant and I think anybody can use them in any job.

"The instructors are all ex-military personnel - they are role models and kids look up to and aspire to be like them. "When we go to a school playground children hang on every word.

"In some of the deprived areas we work in, young people have not got grassy areas or anywhere to go. When they come to our sessions they get a chance to socialise in a different way, to be part of a team."

Education Secretary Michael Gove said difficult pupils could benefit from the 'values of a military ethos'.

He said: "Every child can benefit from the values of a military ethos.Self-discipline and teamwork are at the heart of what makes our Armed Forces the best in the world - and are exactly what all young people need to succeed.

"Exclusion from school should never mean exclusion from education.

"These projects are helping pupils in alternative provision reach their full potential and are helping to close the attainment gap."

However, teachers' leaders have criticised the deployment of ex-servicemen in the classroom, suggesting that schools risk being used as recruitment grounds for the Armed Forces.

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