Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Military under Fire for Not Meeting Expectations: Fe News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Military under Fire for Not Meeting Expectations: Fe News

Article excerpt

Report probes its standards and refusal to stop recruiting at 16.

With the education participation age due to be raised next year, a new report has criticised the military for failing to educate students to government standards and refusing to end recruitment at 16.

The Ministry of Defence said its training programme, which includes lessons in English, maths and IT as well as military training and the offer of apprenticeships, means it will fulfil the requirements of the legislation surrounding the raising of the participation age.

But a report by Child Soldiers International (CSI), Mind the Gap: education for minors in the British armed forces, says that armed forces training does not meet the government's expectations for education, as set out in its independent Wolf report. It also says the military has no data to show whether recruits at 16 and 17 take up apprenticeships with transferable skills.

Under-18s now form just 14 per cent of armed forces recruitment in the UK, or about 2,000 recruits a year, down from a high of about 30 per cent at the millennium. "China doesn't recruit at 16. It's only countries like Iran, Zimbabwe, North Korea and so on. Which tells a story in itself," said Richard Clarke, director of CSI.

According to the MoD, all under-18 soldiers are enrolled on a level 2 apprenticeship for IT users, including functional skills at level 1. Those who achieve level 1 are offered the chance to study to level 2.

As the government is increasing the pressure for all students to achieve GCSEs in English and maths, the MoD said the armed forces would also support soldiers in lifelong learning through a Standard Learning Credit scheme, which can fund up to 80 per cent of course fees at civilian institutions. With only Pounds 175 available per year, however, achieving a GCSE would be a lengthy task.

Mr Clarke said the MoD had not produced evidence that soldiers recruited at 16 and 17 studied for anything more than the most basic requirements of level 1 in functional skills. …

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