Call to retrain former soldiers as teachers to instil discipline in tough inner-city schools

Former soldiers should be retrained as teachers who would instil discipline and their own “moral authority” into tough inner-city schools, under a new proposal.

A report by think tank the Centre for Policy Studies says ex-servicemen could have a profound effect on discipline and learning within UK inner-city schools. The fact that ex-soldiers had a “macho image” could help engender respect, particularly among boys, the report said.

It points to an “extraordinarily successful” US scheme, Troops to Teachers (T3), which provides careers for retiring servicemen who are retrained as teachers, mostly for violent schools.

The T3 programme was set up in 1994 in the aftermath of the first Gulf War for returning US forces. It has seen 16,000 service personnel qualify as teachers, at an annual rate of 1,500.

The author of the report, Tom Burkard suggests that T3 could also relieve the “chronic recruiting problems” faced by the armed forces, as pupils might consider a military career having looked up to someone with a military background. Burkard is the director of The Promethean Trust, a Norwich-based charity for dyslexic children.

The proposal is backed by former chief of defence staff, Lord Guthrie, who said in a forward to the report that it could offer an antidote to some of the problems of youth knife crime, drugs and violence.

“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,” he said.

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