Chief of Defence Staff Lord Guthrie yesterday gave his backing to a call from right wing think-tank, the Centre for Policy Studies, for ex-servicemen and women to be retrained as teachers to bring military style discipline to inner city schools.
Guthrie raised the spectre of daily reports of knife crime, drugs and violence in the inner cities, saying a scheme based on the US Troops to Teachers (T3) programme was a ‘possible answer’.
He said: ‘This will not, of course, solve all the problems of the inner city. But it will help.’
He claimed: ‘It will provide youths with role models who understand discipline and self-restraint at the time in their lives when they need it most.
‘And it will be a terrific boost for our Armed Services.’
The US Troops to Teachers (T3) programme retrains soldiers with a minimum of 10 years’ experience, and a degree, as fully-certified teachers. Those with lower qualifications are retrained as vocational teachers.
Teachers’ union NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates told News Line: ‘Projects with a US provenance should always be approached with caution.
‘Most of the techniques used by the US military to train recruits and subdue civilians are questionable even in a military context.
‘The project also seems to be based on a flawed premise that teaching is simply crowd control.
‘Promoting the concept that boys only respond to tough male role models is insulting to the thousands of women teachers who maintain high standards of classroom discipline through their skill and professionalism.’
Keates concluded: ‘A military background doesn’t automatically mean that someone will be a good or effective teacher or out perform those already in the job.
‘Good teachers can come from all walks of life, including a service background.’
The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) report suggests ex-servicemen could have a particularly strong effect on discipline and learning.
It claims: ‘This is not merely because ex-servicemen are sure of their own moral authority.
‘They are not intimidated by adrenaline-fuelled adolescents: they have, unlike most teachers, been there before.’
The CPS report also argues that the perception that these teachers had been in a ‘macho profession’ would be well-received by inner city children, claiming: ‘Whether we like it or not, children from more deprived neighbourhoods often respond to raw physical power.’
The Ministry of Defence confirmed yesterday that it was already working with the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) on a scheme to encourage more ex-military personnel to consider secondary-level teaching.
In another political intervention, military chiefs accused the government of allowing Britain to become a ‘soft touch’ and a ‘fragmenting, post-Christian society’ with a ‘misplaced deference to multiculturalism’ undermining the fight against ‘extremists’.
The allegation came in a report from security thinktank the Royal United Services Institute.
The paper says the July 2005 London bombings ‘exposed the weakness of the “multicultural” approach towards Islamists’.
It proposes the setting up of a cabinet committee of ministers and officials, and a joint committee of MPs and peers to counter ‘flabby and bogus strategic thinking’.
The report says this weakness is compounded by the ‘wider muddling of political responsibilities between Westminster and Brussels’, adding that the UN, Nato and the EU have all lost their way.
Written by Gwyn Prins, professor at the London School of Economics, and former cabinet minister Lord Salisbury, the paper sums up a series of private seminars involving a group of former senior military and intelligence officers.
Participants in the seminars included former senior MI6 officers Sir Mark Allen and Lady Park, former chief of defence staff Field Marshal Lord Inge, and former commander of UN forces in Bosnia and Nato deputy supreme commander General Sir Rupert Smith.