Saturday, September 03, 2011

On the 'squaddies to teachers' programme

The Phoenix free school in Manchester is planning to employ a staff entirely solely of ex-soldiers. I wouldn't imagine getting approval for this idea from the DofE was too difficult as it fits perfectly with Gove's belief that ex-military can provide the strong discipline and positive male role models that are supposedly lacking in English schools.

Now there's a number of fairly obvious criticisms anyone could make of this particular plan but I'll restrict this to one or two. The first thing that occurs to me is that this will be presented as a welcome shift away from wet liberal 'progressive' educational practices that seeks to rationalise bad behaviour rather than dealing with it. But in as far as this stereotype has any bearing in reality - and it does to some extent - this is merely a species of the same problem. It is the hard-nosed side of the same coin that sees schools primarily as agencies of socialisation rather than learning.

The other point is that in as far as there is Tory support for this, it strikes one as being rather hypocritical. Because those who take a rightwing position on education - and I include amongst these a depressingly large number of supposed lefties - are always complaining that advocates of comps are supporters of schools they wouldn't dream of sending their own children to. In contrast, the average Tory would be absolutely delighted to send their child to an enterprise of this nature? Aye, that'll be right. It's a personal prejudice on my part but apart from anything else, it's the name. Whenever I hear of a school with 'Phoenix' in the title, it gets mentally filed in the same category I reserve for those with 'community' in their name - under 'too crazy'.

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