July 31, 2008

Teachers Call for Military Cadet Forces in State Schools to Improve Discipline

TEACHERS leaders yesterday approved a motion calling for military cadet forces to be established in all state-run schools.

Voice, the union for education professionals which has 38,000 members, is the first union to back the move.

The union - formerly known as the Professional Association of Teachers - hopes it would instil self-discipline and combat unruly behaviour, while also giving pupils structure and provide them with transferable skills they can use in later life.

Proposing the motion, Peter Morris, chairman of the Swansea Neath Port Talbot branch of Voice, said: "The establishment of cadet units in our schools, will, I am sure help with discipline in our schools.

"Cadet forces will inculcate some of the values which we, as a society, are missing: self-discipline, self-reliance, loyalty in all sorts of different ways, to one's comrades, to one's unit and to one's country, courage, respect and integrity."

He added: "We as a profession continually complain about the indiscipline in our schools. I have been present when a pupil has barred a classroom door, refusing to allow fellow pupils and the teacher to leave at the end of the day. I have seen a pupil lift a computer monitor above his head to throw it at a teacher."

He told delegates that these units could work for high achievers as well as stop students dropping out of school and falling into a life of crime or substance abuse.

Seconding the motion, Wendy Blyth, a primary teacher from Devon, said employers would appreciate the life skills cadets would learn.

She said: "Being able to take responsibility, to accept responsibility, to work within a disciplined environment, to lead others and to show initiative. These skills are every bit as important as the qualifications that our young students leave school with, but are very difficult to teach and learn within a classroom situation."

Earlier this year, a report commissioned by Gordon Brown recommended that more cadet forces should be set up in schools, and that more military personnel should visit schools.

In England, the Department for Children, Schools and Families said they were "fully committed" to supporting the Combined Cadet Force, and the opportunities it provides.

A spokesman said: "It is a genuine force for good for the young people who join, the schools in which they are based, as well as for the communities in which they live.

"Although Ofsted tell us that good behaviour is already the norm in most schools, the cadet forces can further instil a sense of discipline and decorum."

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