A new film reveals that since 2011, £45 million has been spent on new programmes with “a military ethos” in schools.
Produced by the Quakers, The Unseen March was created to spark a public debate about the increased militarisation of schools in Britain.
The film features public figures such as the founder of Veterans for Peace UK Ben Griffin, former Development Secretary Clare Short, school principal Chris Gabbett and activist and comedian Mark Thomas discussing how the British military’s public profile has grown in recent years.
During the film, Mark Thomas questions the “character building” qualities of the military: “Whose character? What character? It doesn’t mean a character as in a person or a full sense of a person, an enquiring person, learning about the things they like and want to engage with. What they actually mean is character as in someone who will follow orders without getting too upset about it. Those are completely different things.”
In 2010, the then Education Secretary Michael Gove introduced the Troops to Teach scheme. Run by the University of Brighton, the programme encourages former soldiers without degrees to undertake fast-tracked qualifications in order to become teachers. Arms companies such as BAE are also sponsoring failing academies, increasing the military’s presence and influence.
The Unseen March argues that the typical military ethos of obeying orders and strict discipline is being used as a means of recruiting school children. By increasing the military’s presence in schools, it normalises soldiers and conflicts by making children more familiar with the army.
Do you think an increased militarisation in schools glorifies warfare, at a time when we are directly involved with several wars?
Or does it teach children the importance of character and discipline, something our education system is lacking?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.