Militarism in Schools is on the increase world-wide.

Alan Penn's picture
In 1997 the Conservative government introduced cadet units in state schools. An Inquiry into the National Recognition of the Armed Forces in 2008 called for an increase in Combined Cadet Forces in comprehensive schools. ResPublica 2012 published 'Tackling disadvantage, improving ethos and changing outcome'. It called for new schools run by the military to address poor discipline and educational failure in most deprived neighbourhoods. Ex-education secretary Michael Gove (7 Dec 2012) said 'Every child can benefit from the values of a military ethos'.

This intrusion of the military into schools is an international phenomenon and should be challenged here and elsewhere. Deprived neighbourhoods need to have their problems addressed through the civil society not by introducing the military.

Neither should we be teaching British values as Cameron proposes, but 'civilised values' as Lord Taverne suggested in the House of Lords recently.

Alan Penn
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Ben Taylor's picture
Thu, 18/09/2014 - 18:55

Well here is a post I can conditionally agree with.

I don't want children to learn a glamourised culture of violence.

At the same time many children crave a structured environment which includes competition and physical challenges. Boy Scouts and some adventerous school walking trips were the perfect balance for me. I recognise their military roots.

It would be nice to find a balance.

One of the practical reasons to keep state cadets is to feed working class children in to officer positions. And public schools should pay more for their cadet forces.

I don't fancy going back to an aristocratic officer class.

Andy V's picture
Sun, 21/09/2014 - 10:15

CCF units in schools needs to be kept in context:

"Today, more than 260 schools have CCF contingents, with around 65 in state schools and the remainder in independent schools."

Which is insignificant against approximately 24,370 state schools in 2012. The Independent sector numbers approximately 2000 schools and as such less than 10% have CCFs. Put another way just over 90% don't.

On this basis I would hardly credit CCF unit numbers as representing any creeping militarisation of UK schools.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 21/09/2014 - 12:36

Andy - you're right to stress the importance of keeping the number of CCF groups in proportion. Unfortunately, many politicians regard military-style regimes in schools to be the answer to discipline problems. The Sunday Times today released (pre-publication) details of a report by Sir Michael Wilshaw in which he is said to be 'launching a nationwide crackdown to enforce military-style discipline across classrooms.'

Ofsted has no business in enforcing any particular style of discipline just as it has no business in enforcing particular styles of teaching. Discipline is a matter for heads, governing bodies and staff.

That said, the school where I taught had contact with the forces. Representatives from the forces would talk to interested pupils over coffee and biscuits. We didn't corral the whole Year 10 or 11 into the Hall for a recruitment talk - the informal chats were for volunteers only. We also sent interested pupils on work experience/taster weeks.

We didn't see these activities as militarisation - they were part of our careers programme to help pupils gather information re particular careers and were voluntary.

Many of our pupils were members of Army Cadets or the Air Training Corps. Yet the Government rarely, if ever, mentions these voluntary, out-of-school activities, but pushes CCF instead.

Andy V's picture
Sun, 21/09/2014 - 14:20


For me there are two separate issues here:

1. Behaviour and how schools do / don't address it

2. The "Militarisation" of our schools

The inference that school are becoming increasingly militaristic and by implication focusing on turning out militarised pupils/students is a specious non-starter.

Politicians and others engaging in rhetoric relating to military style discipline (behaviour management) in schools is a vexed issue and smacks of being a panacea approach to unwanted pupil misbehaviours. It is interesting that the Sunday Times uses the term "military-style" whereas in an article on the same topic in the Telegraph doesn't ...

It should be obvious to everyone that the armed services suffer from unwanted behaviours among their people otherwise they wouldn't have a need for their respective Discipline Acts and guides on sanctions attracted by each type of infringement. It follows then that while members of the armed forces are generally well-disciplined they are not perfect and need to have sanctions imposed on them as necessary.

It should also be blindingly obvious that there is little or no tenable comparison between the attitudes and motivation of a person volunteering for full active service in the armed forces and children through to students in compulsory education.

In essence the foundations of military discipline are built on:

1. Service personnel having a clear understanding of what is and what is not acceptable behaviour
2. The consistent expectation that the regulations governing live and behaviour in the forces will be upheld and infringements dealt with
3. That orders will be carried out first and questions asked later

It strikes me that this is very close to what schools have be striving to do for years. That is to say, all pupils/students and parents are informed of the school rules and policies, and are expected to follow them. If not the pupil/student can expect a sanction. This even extends to parents (e.g. term time holidays and deliberate breaches of behaviour toward staff).

A key difference between the military and school scenarios is the consistency with which the regulations/rules are applied and followed-up.

Politicians also have to step up and accept the part that different governments (and some LAs) have played in creating pressurised situations in schools. Examples of this were evident in the latter half of the last governments years when they effectively forbade school from using permanent exclusion and strove to reduce the number of fixed term exclusions. Indeed, during from approximately 2006-09 I recall that section 5 inspection handbook included a requirement for inspectors to drill down into all types of exclusion. Additionally, I also recall that around 2008/09 and continuing post the general election a school excluding a pupil for more than 5 days had to pay for the equivalent of full-time education. Too many and a school incurred open criticism. In a South Yorkshire LA headteachers were told that they should not use exclusion as a sanction.

Purely anecdotally, it is my position that the classroom management/behaviour issue has always been with us - it certainly was in the 60's when I was a pupil. There were those teachers who you just didn't play up and those that well ...

PS Ofsted don't enforce or recommend any particular teaching style and it is yet to be seen whether the actual HMCI report will bear out the reference to military-style discipline referred to by the Sunday Times. You may find the following an interesting taster as to what the full report may or may not cover: (article at the top of page)

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 22/09/2014 - 10:23

Andy - thanks to the link to the Telegraph's reporting of Sir Michael's report. It appears that the 'military-style' discipline regime is the Times's spin. This is another irritating example of papers writing about reports before they've been officially published. The practice of announcing what reports 'will say' or are 'expected to say' is a way of getting maximum publicity for a particular cherry-picked view (or distortion) before official publication. By the time these reports are officially published, the news has moved on. Anyone commenting on them several days after papers have run their stories appears to be behind the news and ignored.

Owen Everett's picture
Wed, 29/10/2014 - 17:27

Hi Alan, and all,

Thanks for the post and interesting comments on this important issue.

I run the Military Out Of Schools campaign for ForcesWatch, and we have researched and published a lot on the military's influence in the UK education system - especially in secondary schools and colleges through armed forces visits, the more recent Military Ethos in Schools programme, and teaching resources such as this extremely one-sided publication (which we are soon to publish a response to) - and the concerns these raise. We also have various videos and a short film to explore the issue, critically.

Go to to see all this.

Best wishes,
Owen Everett (

Augene's picture
Wed, 15/07/2015 - 11:45

Quakers (The Religious Society of Friends) have produced a short (less than six minute) film clarifying how militarism is being pushed into our schools. This isn't just about having Cadets in our schools. It's much more than that.

You can find a link to The Unseen March

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