Drill Skills Schools

For many decades both Tory and Labour governments, bereft of ideas and looking to distract attention from their failures, have tried to bring the military into the education system.  It has never been a sensible or useful plan.  It has always been just a headline grabber.

General Jack Ripper impersonator Gavin Williamson, the current Defence Secretary, revisited the boots-in-the-classroom nonsense last week.  Fellow Tory MP and ‘Minister of State for Children and Families’ Robert Goodwill has been given the task of compiling a report on the possibility of creating military academies to act as schools.  That is, the proposal is to switch some schools from education based to military based teaching.

Robert Goodwill MP

Goodwill, educated at a private boarding school and the recipient of hundreds of acres of free land via ancestry, said

this [military academies] could be something that schools in deprived areas may be.  It can be used to improve the whole school with the ethos and discipline of cadets.”

There’s a lot in a single sentence there to pick apart:

1. Goodwill claimed a lack of money in family income leads to a lack of discipline in children.  Such a claim is insulting and it is wholly without any statistical proof to support it.  Goodwill’s intent was to invent a correlation between a low income and a poor attitude to hard work.  That is, he followed the usual dishonest conservative line of blaming poverty on the poor while simultaneously absolving the government of any blame.

2. Goodwill claimed that military discipline will make a child better at studying and, consequently, better able to find a good job or career.  Military discipline teaches how to cope with military discipline and nothing more.  Specific skills, that are taught in the armed forces, are very useful but the Drill Skills plan does not include such skills, just the discipline.  If a school is not working as well as it should then extra discipline doesn’t magically change the quality of the education and it does not magically mean there are jobs available afterward that wouldn’t have previously been available.  State education is declining in quality because of massive cuts in funding and because a lot of the money set aside for education is being siphoned away by disreputable characters involved with free schools and academies.

3. Goodwill claimed there exist “deprived areas.”  Statistically, some parts of some towns and cities have lower average income than other areas and people with lower incomes may be more likely to live in some areas and not others due to rent or house costs.  However, if the local education is good enough then children growing up in such areas are not bound to remain there and the area is not bound to remain “deprived.”  If Goodwill wanted to improve the quality of the schools in what he describes as “deprived areas” then he could do so.  He doesn’t want to do so.  His created perspective is to view whole areas as in need of military intervention as an extension of the perspective that a low income is self-induced.

Gavin Williamson said “their [the armed forces’] skills, values, and can-do attitude can inspire today’s young people to challenge themselves and reach their potential.”  That comment might be true; however, it is also true that good schools, debt-free access to further and higher education, useful apprenticeships, better-paid jobs, more secure jobs, no zero-hours jobs, lower rents and affordable housing will also allow “young people to reach their potential.”  The invasion of the military into the education system is not a necessity.  Williamson claimed it is a necessity and he completely eradicated all the Tory policy decisions that continue to harm any young person’s prospects of a good career.  He slipped in a comment about young people being able to “challenge themselves” via military discipline; Williamson’s intent was to insult young people’s enthusiasm to achieve without the intervention of the military.

Williamson and Goodwill have acute disdain for the intelligence and fortitude of people from working class backgrounds and they resolutely refuse to admit the culpability of Tory policy to the decline in education and career prospects.

The Drill Skills proposal is stupid, insulting and a con.  It is also a method of using education department money to fuel the military.

Meanwhile, many ex-service men and women are destitute and homeless, abandoned by the Tories after they risked their lives and limbs in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.


Drill Skills Schools

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