Adult Learning Inspectorate finds room for improvement with training in the Armed Forces

Serious “areas of concern” about the training in the Armed Forces have been highlighted by the Adult Learning Inspectorate.

Its report found recruits were being placed in areas they were not suitable for; that many were not fit enough; that they were not being fed properly; and that overseas members were not being taught English.

Better Training was published this week two years after the inspectorate’s damning Safer Training report found widespread failings in training the forces.

Better Training reported a significant improvement, but noted there was a long way to go.

David Sherlock, chief inspector of adult learning, said: “Two years ago, the Ministry of Defence and Armed Services had to face up to some harsh truths. 

“We have witnessed a genuine and enthusiastic commitment to change. Marked and continuing improvement is the overall verdict, but with still more to achieve”

Problems highlighted in the report include:

  • Implementation of service-wide policies and guidelines is inconsistent.
  • The importance of using accurate data and local intelligence to guide decision-making and solve problems is still not widely recognised.
  • There is very little systematic handover of command.
  • Progress in extending equality of opportunity and diversity has been disappointingly slow.
  • There has been a lack of progress in getting instructors trained before they take up their posting to a Royal Navy or Army training establishment.
  • Recruitment material and procedures are sometimes misleading. Some recruits report being steered into trades for which they are unsuited or have little interest, but where shortages exist.
  • The fitness level of some new recruits, particularly women, continues to be a problem. As a consequence, some recruits are discharged shortly after entry, disappointing the recruit and wasting valuable resources.
  • Many recruits are still wary about using the complaints system, citing concerns regarding confidentiality and the possible risk of reprisals.
  • The lack of control of commanding officers over small-scale maintenance (which now rests with regional prime contractors) has, if anything, worsened – leading to poor conditions even in some good modern accommodation.
  • ‘Evening’ meals continue to be provided in the late afternoon, with no fourth meal to give a flow of nutrition appropriate for young people undertaking hard, physical exercise.

Too little progress has been made in making overseas recruits feel at home quickly effective by providing good teaching in English as an additional language.

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