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Ex-soldiers fast-tracked to teach

Former soldiers will be able to qualify as teachers in half the normal time under a new Government scheme. Achieving qualified teacher status (QTS) usually takes a three-year degree and one year teacher training course.

The Government believes it will help invoke discipline in schools, but critics warn that “a military ethos belongs in the military”.

Ex-military without a degree, but with experience as instructors, coaches or mentors, will be able to take part in a two-year, school-based salaried training scheme. Applicants would spend four days a week in the classroom, with one day a week at university.

Military personnel with a degree will be given bursaries and be able to enrol on courses with extra training, as part of the Troops to Teachers programme.

Education minister David Laws said: “Many members of our inspiring armed forces possess the skills and expertise relevant and transferable to the classroom – leadership, discipline, motivation and teamwork. Every child can benefit from having these values instilled in them.

“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.

“Troops to Teachers will make it easier for those who have already contributed so much to our country to continue their brilliant work – this time in the classroom.”

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “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.

“For those without a degree, one day a week at university over a two-year course is not enough.

“Classroom experience is important but there is a whole body of knowledge about learning, brain development, behaviour, not to mention specific subject content, that they will need.

“A 50/50 split of practical to theoretical study is more realistic. For some subjects the top-up may be relatively small but for other subjects, like maths, English and science, it could be substantial.

“Ex-service personnel can bring lots of relevant experience to the classroom, but a military ethos belongs in the military. Schools need a learning ethos.”

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