DfE gives £4.8m so pupils can ‘benefit from military ethos’

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Projects run by ex-armed forces personnel aimed at improving attainment and engagement among the most disaffected students have been given £4.8 million in government funding.

Projects run by ex-armed forces personnel aimed at improving attainment and engagement among the most disaffected students have been given £4.8 million in government funding.

A total of six projects are to receive Department for Education money after pilot projects involving some 8,000 pupils.

Ministers say the money will see more children “benefit from the military ethos” and it is to fund activities such as:

  • Military-style obstacle courses to engage and motivate hard-to-reach pupils.

  • Team-building exercises to encourage discipline, leadership, team-work and good behaviour.

  • One-to-one mentoring to address behavioural issues.

More than 300 primary and secondary schools and pupil referral units were involved in testing these approaches after grants were awarded to four organisations in August 2012. All four are to now receive further funding: 

  • Commando Joe’s in the North West has been given £1 million to provide trained mentors and “challenging activities” for schools in deprived areas.

  • Challenger Troop in Kent has received £1 million to provide leadership and engagement programmes for vulnerable or disengaged pupils.

  • Knowsley Skills Academy in Merseyside has received £411,773 to provide physical activities, team-building and work-related learning.

  • SkillForce in Newcastle has received £967,000 to provide “challenges in the outdoor environment” with a focus on literacy and numeracy.

Alongside these, two new charities have been funded. CVQO, which helps young people to gain vocational qualifications, has received £757,000, while The Prince’s Trust has been awarded £700,000 to get ex-military personnel working with its school-based xl clubs, run for pupils at risk of truanting and exclusion.

A study by Swansea University of the Commando Joe’s interventions found that 56 per cent of pupils taking part improved their maths, 46 per cent improved their reading, while 70 per cent showed improvement in writing.

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.”

Mike Hamilton, director of Commando Joe’s, said the funding meant that they could expand across the country. He added: “The money will go towards recruiting more staff and delivering more programmes to enable more schools to access the provision.”

CAPTION: Military ethos: Commando Joe’s, pictured at Cedar Mount Academy in Manchester, are one of six projects to receive government funding to help reach disaffected, at-risk students


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