Press release

New funding for military ethos projects

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

DfE grants £4.8 million to projects led by ex-armed forces personnel to tackle underachievement by disengaged pupils.

Instructor speaks to primary school children
An instructor from Commando Joe’s speaks to primary school children. (Photo credit: Commando Joe’s)

Projects run by former armed forces personnel are to receive a further £4.8 million after research showed they were turning around the lives of thousands of young people.

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss announced today that 6 projects, including 2 new charities the Prince’s Trust and CVQO, will receive the funding to build on previous work and support the government’s commitment to drive up education standards.

The new money comes after evidence and feedback from some of the 300 schools where 8,000 pupils took part. They said the projects had a hugely positive impact on improving engagement and attainment among the most disengaged children.

A study by Swansea University of Commando Joe’s, a Manchester-based project which provides trained mentors and activities for schools in some of the most deprived areas in the UK, found 56% of pupils taking part improved their maths grade while 70% showed improvement in writing.

Research and school feedback on the 3 other projects: Challenger Troop in Kent, Knowsley Skills Academy in Merseyside and SkillForce in Newcastle were also positive.

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss said:

The lives of thousands of disengaged children have been turned around thanks to these projects which instil our wonderful armed forces’ values of hard work and discipline.

That is why we are increasing the funding going to these important projects - so that even more children can benefit from the military ethos.

The projects instil teamwork, discipline and leadership in pupils through mentoring, outward bound activities and other group exercises focused on improving attainment and behaviour.

Activities include:

  • one-to-one mentoring skills to help address potential behaviour issues and keep pupils committed to their education
  • military-style obstacle courses to engage and motivate hard-to-reach pupils and help them understand how to transfer the elements which helped them succeed into the classroom
  • a mix of indoor and outdoor team-building exercises with an educational focus to encourage discipline, leadership, teamwork and good behaviour
  • working with schools and other agencies to re-integrate pupils who are not in education, employment or training and prepare them for post-16 courses or jobs
  • helping primary school children in their transition to secondary school through building their self-confidence

Grants were awarded in August 2012 to 4 organisations to deliver programmes through re-engagement with education and early intervention. More than 300 primary schools, secondary schools and pupil referral units are now being served by these providers with more than 8,000 of the most challenging pupils already taking part.

Mark Poole, Head of Year at Walmer Science College, Kent - one of the schools to benefit - said:

The impact has been really quite dramatic. Some children have, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say, had their lives turned around.

Sean Kelly, Head of Academy, Top Valley Academy, Nottingham:

There has been a significant reduction in negative behaviours filed by teachers. There is a significant improvement in teacher assessment levels and grades in English, maths and science and effort grades recorded by subject show that those on the programme are trying harder.

A study by Swansea University into Commando Joe’s programmes in 4 schools serving 57 pupils found:

  • 56% of pupils in the study improved their maths academic achievement grades
  • 46% of pupils in the study improved their reading academic achievement grades
  • 70% of pupils in the study improved their writing academic achievement grades

Research by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) into Knowsley Skills Academy (KSA) found that 90% of the 30 NEETs on the company’s programme gained employment.

The NFER report said:

Feedback from young people, parents and other agencies indicates that KSA is making considerable progress at turning around the lives of young people and giving them the motivation and skills to make a successful return to mainstream education.

Teacher assessment of the direct impact on 32 pupils involved in Challenger Troop programmes found:

  • 77% showed improvement in self-control and behaviour after 6 months with 10% showing improvement after 1 day
  • 86% showed improvement in the their social skills after 6 months
  • 73% showed improvement in their self-awareness and confidence after 6 months

SkillForce worked with 3,291 young people on year-long courses in 2011 to 2012. Their survey found:

  • 84% of year 11 pupils who completed the course went on to some form of employment, education or training
  • 86% of pupils said the course had helped them to have a positive attitude
  • 77% said they now treated their teachers with respect

The 6 projects are Commando Joe’s in Greater Manchester, Challenger Troop in Kent, SkillForce in Newcastle, Knowsley Skills Academy in Merseyside, The Prince’s Trust and CVQO.

Mike Hamilton, Director of Commando Joe’s, said:

We’re so pleased to receive this extra funding as it means we can take Commando Joe’s to more schools.

We’ve been based mainly in the North West so far, but now we can expand our operations across the country.

The money will go towards recruiting more staff and delivering more programmes to enable more schools to access the provision which will ultimately help to inspire and motivate thousands more young people to reach their full potential inside and outside the classroom.

Martina Milburn, Chief Executive of The Prince’s Trust, said:

The Prince’s Trust is proud of the charity’s longstanding relationship with military personnel across the UK, including our partnership with Help for Heroes.

It is exciting to bring this experience to the Department of Education’s inspired military ethos initiative in the knowledge of the significant contribution our inspirational service personnel can make to the lives of disadvantaged young people.

Notes to editors

A total of £4.8 million has been awarded in 6 grants to use military ethos in schools to improve education attainment of the most disengaged pupils.

  • Commando Joe’s which provides trained mentors and challenging activities for schools in some of the most deprived and hard-to-reach areas of the UK has been awarded £1 million
  • Challenger Troop, which provides leadership and engagement programmes for vulnerable or disengaged pupils aged 8 to 16 across the UK, particularly in the toughest areas of London and the South East, has been awarded £1 million
  • Knowsley Skills Academy which provides young people with a programme of physical activities, team-building and work-related learning and prepare them for post-16 education, training or employment has been awarded £411,773
  • SkillForce which provides a programme of challenges in the outdoor environment, integrated to support literacy and numeracy has been awarded £967,000
  • CVQO which works with pupils from all backgrounds and abilities, delivering education to help them improve their lives has been awarded £757,000
  • The Prince’s Trust, which works with disadvantaged young people to help them into work, education and training, has been awarded £700,000. The funds will be used to get more former military personnel working on the youth charity’s programmes, including 35 Prince’s Trust xl clubs run in schools across the UK for pupils at risk of truanting and exclusion

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Published 15 November 2013