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Labour's acceptance of military schools can help defeat teaching union self-interest

    Tom Burkard, CPS education expert and author of 'Troops to Teachers' in 2008, reacts to the Shadow Education and Defence Secretary's call for Labour to adopt military academies. 

    The Centre for Policy Studies first introduced the 'Troops to Teachers' concept to the UK in Feb 2008, and it was immediately endorsed by Michael Gove and Liam Fox.  Last September, the CPS published "Something Can Be Done: Troops in our schools will do more good than troops in the streets", which launched our proposal to start a school where all teachers will be former members of the armed forces.

    Now that Education Shadow Stephen Twigg and Defense shadow Jim Murphy have come out strongly for employing former service personnel in our schools,  the strident opposition of teaching union officials is unlikely to have much effect.  

    However, a word of caution is in order: coercing schools to accept Combined Cadet Forces is utterly foreign to British traditions.  We will not have one at the proposed Phoenix Free School of Oldham - we are not recruiting sergeants.

    Discipline in a modern volunteer army bears little resemblance the popular conception of the traditional sergeant major on the parade square.  Good behaviour is maintained by consent - and no one understands this better than the teachers we will employ at Phoenix.  Our goals are strictly academic: good discipline is a means to an end, and not merely an end in itself.

    Tom Burkard is a Visiting Professor of Education Policy at the University of Derby. He is the co-author of the Sound Foundations reading and spelling programmes, which are rapidly gaining recognition as the most cost-effective means of preventing reading failure. In June 2015 he was awarded a DPhil by Published Works by the University of Buckingham.

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