Posts Tagged ‘service schools’

Bringing the “service ethos” into schools is already making a difference

01/08/2012, 07:00:03 AM

by Kevan Jones

Last month Labour’s education and defence spokesmen, Stephen Twigg and Jim Murphy, outlined some ideas on how the role of the armed forces and the “service ethos” could be expanded across our education system.

Their ideas included having mentoring services run by veterans or reservists, increasing the number of former service personnel trained as teachers, having more Combined Cadet Forces (CCF) in state schools and developing specialist “service schools”, including academies, all in order to boost achievement and social mobility. This week Labour released a paper on the proposals as part of our policy review.

Perhaps predictably a chorus of groans followed the announcement, much of it from the Labour blogosphere, about how this showed Labour betraying its working class origins and aligning itself with “militaristic” values.  Not only do the criticisms misunderstand or misrepresent the aims of these ideas, but they fail to understand the military in ways that can be as short-sighted as they are offensive.

Many of the criticisms also overlooked the fact that many of the ideas proposed already exist to the huge benefit of schools in the state sector. I know this from the experience of Walker Technology College in Newcastle.

Walker Technology College was set up during the last Labour Government in 2009 as a pathfinder school, with a Combined Cadet Force (CCF) contingent of 20 cadets. It now has over 100 cadets enrolled and pupils have the opportunity to choose CCF as a curriculum subject.

As part of this, students are able to achieve an army proficiency course accreditation, the Duke of Edinburgh award, a BTEC in public uniformed service and a young first aiders’ award. Since the course was established it has consistently proved to be one of the highest performing and popular awards in the school.

Hard-work, comradeship, respect, responsibility and team work are the essential “soft skills” that have the CCF contingent have brought to Walker College. The “service ethos” that underpins the CCF develops and hones this vital set of life skills, which are highly sought after in a jobs market that is only getting tougher for young people.

It is essential that we maximise the impressive leadership skills that service men and women develop during their time with the armed forces. The CCF course at Walker College has provided former service personnel with a challenging, fulfilling post-service career, which has been to the benefit of young people in Newcastle, increasing attainment, confidence and opportunity.


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