Former soldiers will be sent into classrooms to instil discipline and raise results among troubled youngsters, ministers have announced.
Under a new £1.9m initiative, four projects will be set up to pass on values taught in the military to children who have been excluded from school, Education Secretary Michael Gove said.
Ex-servicemen will be employed to help instil teamwork, discipline and leadership skills through mentoring, outward bound activities and other group exercises such as military-style obstacle courses.
Ministers said they hope the schemes will raise standards among pupils in alternative provision - those who have been excluded from mainstream education - who often lag behind other children.
Last year, only 1.5% of pupils in alternative provision achieved at least five GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and maths - about 40 times worse than their peers in mainstream education, according to Department for Education (DfE) figures.
"Every child can benefit from the values of a military ethos," Gove said.
"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."
Some £600,000 of the funding is going to Commando Joes' in Cheshire; £700,000 to Challenger Troop in Tunbridge Wells, Kent; £400,000 to Knowsley Skills Academy in Prescot, Merseyside; and £200,000 to Newcastle-based SkillForce.
All four use activities including one-to-one mentoring, military-style obstacle courses and team-building exercises.
They also help re-integrate pupils and prepare them for post-16 courses or jobs, as well as helping primary school children in their move to secondary school.
Former bomb disposal expert Mike Hamilton, director of Commando Joes', said the £600,000 package will help expand it nationwide.
The 32-year-old, who served in the Royal Engineers for eight years - including two tours of Iraq and one of Afghanistan - formed the company after leaving the army.
As well as a personal trainer, he was a member of a bomb disposal squad - on one occasion helping clear a whole minefield in an Iraqi village so children could play safely.
He went on to work as part of a recruitment team in the UK and during visits to schools noticed a need to help disillusioned pupils.
Starting Commando Joes' as an after-school activity at schools in Manchester in 2009, he has slowly expanded, recruiting extra instructors to teach military-style fitness and one-to-one mentoring, as well as tailor-made team-building exercises and activities.
"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," he said.
As well as providing help for children, Commando Joes' gives employment opportunities to ex-servicemen and women and the extra funding will allow Mr Hamilton to train 30 new instructors to expand the company nationwide.
"The Government funding has probably fast-tracked us by about five or 10 years," he added.
"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.
"Our motto is No Child Left Behind - we will work with every child and young person to help them feel motivated to learn and be part of their school and community again."
Headteachers working with all four projects to benefit from the funding have already reported an improvement in "difficult to reach pupils", making them less likely to be excluded.
The boost is part of a wider aim to bring military ethos into the education system, including expansion of the school-based cadets; developing the Troops to Teachers programme; and a rise in the Service Children Premium for Service Children.