The right-wing Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) has come up with one its most potty ideas yet – a “military style” Free School staffed by ex-service people to impose discipline on youths involved in gang culture.
The idea this is a cure for ‘gang culture’ is a joke – the kids who might need more discipline in their lives and being diverted from gang involvement aren’t going to go to this so-called ‘Free’ school.
I have no objection if someone wants to set up schools run by unqualified teachers along military lines, just so long as they don’t expect the rest of us to subsidise their fantasy. This ‘Free School’ is of course not free, because we have to pay for it with funds diverted from other schools in the area. All that will be happening is that families that want this sort of education for their kids – who are unlikely to be ‘problem’ families - will have their wants subsidised at the expense of the families and schools that probably really do need extra help.
I also have the greatest respect for our military, but the idea that military personnel, even those with instructor experience, can transition from teaching adults under military discipline to teaching teenagers who are there voluntarily, without any real training, is a joke. Ex- service personnel who moved into teaching in the 1940s and 50s were at least given some training, and at the time there was little alternative. The current US ‘Troops to teachers’ scheme also provides extensive training. The CPS thinks training is a waste of time.
The military are usually very realistic about what they can and can’t do – but this is clearly a case of ‘Mission Improbable’ and my guess is it will never get off the ground. It sounds more like a silly season publicity stunt by CPS.