This idea has been out a few months now, and involves particularly targeting ex-soldiers to be recruited as teachers in the belief that they will be better at behaviour management. When writing about particular expectations made of teachers, I often wonder how they are expected to apply to physically diminutive teachers. I was also told on one of my PGCE placements that it was easier to manage behaviour when you are large and male.
So this idea does seem to make sense in that respect. Is teaching really becoming a profession that is only the preserve of physically intimidating people? Like security guards, prison officers and as stated, soldiers? It’s frightening to think that this is being given serious thought – the behaviour crisis is obviously that bad that students need glorified bouncers to keep classrooms in order.
Should there be height, weight and fitness restrictions when recruiting teachers? Because if you’re going to really embrace this idea, that’s the sort of thing that will be happening. Can you imagine how many people currently working as teachers would suddenly become unsuitable?
I think this idea largely misunderstands what is required in order to manage behaviour well. There is just as much psychological and verbal work to be done as well as intimidating students, which to be honest, is not openly admitted to be a valid method of managing behaviour in the first place. Although, psychological strength is also a massive part of modern warfare too.
The idea that bringing back national service would benefit behaviour is also a popular one, although how it will benefit school age children who would be too young to take that up I’m not sure. Bringing some sort of military discipline into schools could be one way of doing that though.
Spending time doing very basic activities as an exercise in following instruction and listening properly is a classroom technique already used with badly behaved classes, and with new military recruits. Making students present their kit of exercise book, pencil, pen, sharpener and ruler would help behaviour – but I can’t imagine any Ofsted inspector giving that sort of activity any higher than a 4.
There are many soldiers who leave the army and struggle to find careers, and this might be one way of redressing that balance. In some ways I have always seen my time in teaching in a similar way to some of my friends’ time spent in the army – all most like boot camp and ‘doing my bit’ before I settle into a career that allows for a better work-life ratio.
I think it could work – if the government and Ofsted will ever admit the relevance and importance of this sort of activity. Otherwise, I don’t fancy this idea’s chances, and I think that this initiative proves how absurd Ofsted's advice actually is.