06 April 2008

Labour Wants Expansion Of Army Cadets

I was amazed to read this. Eight teenage gun murders in London last year, so, naturally, Gordon Brown wants more youth to learn about using guns.

The Army already uses outdoor weekends, DVD packs and helicopter visits, but Gordon Brown wants to expand military influence in schools even further. He wants cadet corps in state secondary schools.

Under the proposed plans, secondary school pupils would receive "basic military training as a means of developing greater affiliation with the armed forces."

Quentin Davies, who was a Tory before defecting to Labour, has proposed the changes. He says his proposals are "firmly backed by the Prime Minister, the Children's Secretary Ed Balls and defence ministers."

State schools who do not set up a cadet system will encourage pupils to attend a community cadet force instead.

It was only last month that the NUT was saying military recruitment focused on schools in the most disadvantaged areas, and targeted vulnerable pupils, without clearly outlining the risks of an army career.

The EIS in Scotland has also spoken out about military influence in schools. The EIS is Scotland's biggest teaching union, with over 59,000 members, so Gordon Brown is putting up two fingers to his own base north of the border.

Military Families Against The War:
Lorna McKinnon, 14, a fourth-year pupil at Bellahouston Academy in Glasgow, said: "I thought school was the one place you could get away from the horror of the Iraq war, so I was shocked to go into the playground one day and see a helicopter and 20 army guys trying to recruit us ... This was without my or my parents' permission, and I had no choice but to listen ... but they won't get me."
Sunday Herald:

Patrick Orr, in 5th year at Edinburgh's Boroughmuir High School, led a recent picket against recruitment by the air cadets in his school, and believes the SSAW movement will keep growing. The 16-year-old said: "There's a strength of feeling among parents and teachers about this too."

The MoD [has] a new online teaching resource, Defence Dynamics, which includes 40 lesson plans for English, maths, science, geography and citizenship. Derek Twigg, parliamentary undersecretary for defence, told parliament £2.1 million a year was invested in recruitment teams, and the web resource would enable them to "reach many more children and at a significantly lower cost".

But pupils like Orr are unimpressed. "Online video games as training exercises; that would be a rosy way of looking at the reality," he said. "The military is not like any other career. A lot more young people are realising you run the risk of getting seriously injured or dying."

Mhairi Britton,16, of the St Andrews SSAW group, said: "We watched the army recruiting DVD and I found it quite disturbing because of the slant on adventure and it all being a great thrill."

Glasgow teacher Steven Dolan said: "Teachers have found recruitment has increased quite dramatically. The army seems to have unlimited funds for outdoor weekends and so on, but teachers don't have money for photocopying."


Anonymous said...

There are other ways to discipline students in schools, this is definitely not the answer.

Anonymous said...

While it’s pleasing that both parties are trying to tackle behaviour in schools and address the problems facing our young people, I can’t help but think that some of their strategies won’t be as effective as they claim.

The Tories main proposals include boosting powers of exclusion and giving teachers more power in dealing with violent and disruptive pupils, pressing for an end to the ‘no touch’ policy. Some of the obvious flaws in the proposals have already been outlined in the Independent.

Yes, we need to improve levels of behaviour and discipline within schools, but it seems to me like this is all ‘stick’ and no ‘carrot’ for pupils. Young people behave well in environments where they are valued, where they can contribute, and where they can progress. Not surprisingly, these are also the environments where they will respect others. I doubt that many pupils will find this environment within the Tories plans. Will they make teachers feel happier? Yes. Teachers can forcefully restrain pupils, can take away possessions without reason, and can turf them out of education if they don’t like it. Will the fear of being restrained and expelled without appeal improve pupil behaviour? There’s no substantial evidence to say so.

Now, there is an argument that the cadet environment is precisely one where young people can contribute, be valued, and respect each other. Yes, but only for a small minority of young people. In relation to the 35,000 young people Beatbullying has worked with directly over the last few years, only a very small percentage would react well to a bootcamp environment. For all those who do not enjoy physical activity or games, the prospect of a cadet lifestyle is unlikely to have a beneficial effect on their behaviour.

Furthermore, you can’t help but be a little worried about the prospect that bullies will migrate towards this system, and the allure of power that they will be in a position to exert over their junior officers. Perish the thought that we might even be putting bullies in uniform and putting them in a position to abuse any authority. Without substantial evidence, beyond the anecdotal, that cadet forces significantly improve behaviour among its recruits, then you’d have to wonder whether this is the best system of anti-conflict education.

Yes, we need to improve levels of discipline and respect, and encourage youth participation in activity, but let’s not limit this within an army environment. Perhaps what would be a better, more mixed and more inclusive, policy response in the way we tackle behavioural problems in schools, is the roll out of mentoring schemes in both schools and communities.

We know that mentoring schemes work – they reduce bullying, they improve behaviour, increase attainment, increase attendance. Unlike the cadet force proposal, they are all inclusive – sporty kids mentor sporty kids, young people who like music can find a mentor they can relate to, and so on. And unlike the Tories plan, mentoring proposals actually take into consideration the position of young people. They are monitored by adults, and their results undoubtedly make life easier for teachers, yet young people are at the heart of them, and unlike the Tories proposals, young people benefit too.

Anonymous said...

i think this is stupid why do people complain about army cadets when they have never tried it, i myself am in cadets and have been for a year.the best thing that has happened in my life i have also decided I want to join the army in two years time when im 16, there is no presure in cadets to join the army only half at my detachment are joining, i think its the best idea ever to introduce this into our schools, more adventure than just sat in a class room!

scott redding said...

Hayley, the function of an Army is to be deployed overseas and for you to kill foreigners if political leaders tell you to. I think that people who are 14, like yourself, could be trained to look at other career paths that value other skills/traits (co-operation, peace, community) rather than killing and violence and war. Scott

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