Byline: Nicholas Cecil Chief Political Correspondent
HUNDREDS of battle-hardened ex-soldiers are to be drafted into classrooms to improve discipline and tackle yobs under landmark education reforms announced today.
They could be fast-tracked from the front line in Iraq and Afghanistan into schools as teachers within six weeks.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said: "I can't think of anything better than getting people who know all about self-discipline, teamwork and a sense of pride into our schools to complement the huge numbers of great teachers we have there at the moment."
He praised Britain's armed forces as "among the finest young men and women we have in this country".
Those without a degree will have tuition fees paid by the taxpayer to do a two-year training course under the "Troops to Teachers" programme. Officers with degrees could be in classrooms within weeks.
The Department for Education is working with Sandhurst on how to fast-track former officers into teaching.
Mr Gove published sweeping changes to the school system in a White Paper today. They include: More powers for teachers to impose discipline in the classroom including to search for banned items, give nonotice detentions and use "reasonable force" if needed. Changes to the National Curriculum to make it a "tighter, more rigorous model of the knowledge" which every child should have while also giving more freedom to schools on what to teach.
A new "English Baccalaureate" to reward pupils to study English, maths, science, a modern or ancient language and history or geography.
A review of Key Stage 2 tests, at the end of primary school, to retain information for parents and secondary schools .
Stop schools improving their performance by encouraging pupils to take easier subjects.
A fresh drive to support pupils from the poorest families after it emerged that just 40 went to Oxford or Cambridge in the latest year for which figures are available.
Increasing the threshold at which schools are considered to be "failing".
A new reading test for six-year olds.
Raising to 17 by 2013 and then 18 by 2015 the age to which all young people will be expected to stay in education. Up to 400 schools could be tagged as "underperforming" and will face being taken over if they fail to meet tough new achievement targets set out in the Education White Paper .
Where schools are found to fall below standard, "outstanding headteachers" would be brought in to help "raise the bar on achievement". They are also likely to be turned into academies.
The White Paper -- The Importance Of Teaching -- also laid out proposals covering teacher training, qualifications and assessment, inspections, league tables and funding in an attempt to boost standards.
Students could be marked on their spelling, punctuation and grammar in GCSE exams in the future and schools will be discouraged from using vocational courses as "equivalent" qualifications to push themselves up the GCSE league tables. …