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More funding for education projects led by ex-military personnel

Six projects led by ex-armed forces personnel are getting extra funding worth £4.8m to help improve engagement and attainment among the most disengaged children.

The Department for Education (DfE) grants are in recognition of research showing the schemes were succeeding in turning lives around.

Two of the six projects getting money are new, run by the Prince’s Trust and CVQO, while the other four have already proved their positive impact.

Education minister Elizabeth Truss said: “The lives of thousands of disengaged children have been turned around thanks to these projects which instil our wonderful armed forces’ values of hard work and discipline.

“That is why we are increasing the funding going to these important projects – so that even more children can benefit from the military ethos. The projects instil teamwork, discipline and leadership in pupils through mentoring, outward bound activities and other group exercises focused on improving attainment and behaviour.”

About 8,000 pupils have been involved in the projects so far, across 300 schools. This included Commando Joe’s, a Manchester-based project providing mentors and activities for deprived areas’ schools. Swansea University research showed that 56% of the pupils involved improved their maths grade and 70% showed improvement in writing.

Its director, Mike Hamilton, said: “We’re so pleased to receive this extra funding as it means we can take Commando Joe’s to more schools. We’ve been based mainly in the north west so far, but now we can expand our operations across the country.”

The activities have included military-style obstacle courses – and teaching those successful at these courses how to translate these skills into the classroom – but also general one-to-one mentoring, team-building exercises, re-integrating ‘Neets’, and helping primary schools build their confidence ready for secondary school.

Grants were awarded in August 2012 to four organisations to deliver programmes through re-engagement with education and early intervention, which included Commando Joe’s as discussed above and also:

  • Challenger Troop, which provides leadership and engagement programmes for vulnerable or disengaged pupils aged eight to 16 across the UK, particularly in the toughest areas of London and the South East. It has now been awarded a further £1m
  • Knowsley Skills Academy, which provides young people with a programme of physical activities, team-building and work-related learning and prepare them for post-16 education, training or employment, has got a further £411,773
  • SkillForce, which provides outdoor challenges, integrated to support literacy and numeracy, has been awarded a further £967,000

The two newly-involved charities are CVQO, which has been given £757,000, and the Prince’s Trust, which has been awarded £700,000.

Sean Kelly, head of Top Valley Academy in Nottingham, said: “There has been a significant reduction in negative behaviours filed by teachers. There is a significant improvement in teacher assessment levels and grades in English, maths and science and effort grades recorded by subject show that those on the programme are trying harder.”

Mark Poole, head of year at Walmer Science College in Kent, said: “The impact has been really quite dramatic. Some children have, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say, had their lives turned around.”

For more information, including the results of research by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and a teacher assessment of the programme, click here.

(Image: Commando Joe’s)

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