Further Forces: ex-soldiers targeted to retrain as FE teachers

A new programme, funded by the Education and Training Foundation and Gatsby Charitable Foundation, will build on ‘lessons learned’ from Troops to Teachers

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A scheme to retrain armed forces personnel to teach science, engineering and technology in FE is launching next month, TES can reveal.

The Further Forces programme, funded by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, will target military service-leavers without degrees but who have relevant skills.

The ETF expects that 110 people will be trained up, with the programme lasting 18 months. Those who complete it will be awarded qualified teacher learning and skills (QTLS) status, with the first cohort expected to finish their training by July 2018.

The official tender document also suggests that the recruits could help to meet the “significant need for skilled managers” in colleges resulting from the area review process.

It adds that the project aims to build on “lessons learned” from the controversial Troops to Teachers scheme, which launched in 2014 to place forces personnel into teaching positions in schools. However, that programme attracted criticism, with just a sixth of the target number of teachers qualifying from its first cohort.

Unions have raised concerns about Further Forces, claiming that the project would “only go a little way to meeting the sector’s growing demands” for teachers of Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.

‘Further Forces’

The ETF is contributing £550,000 towards the scheme, which is backed by the Department for Education and the Ministry of Defence (MoD), with the Gatsby Charitable Foundation providing an additional £300,000.

The pilot project is expected to run for about two and a half years, and will begin with the establishment of at least two recruitment hubs. It is anticipated that there will be one in the North of England and one in the South, with each training a maximum of 55 teachers.

Recruits will be “sourced” from within the MoD’s resettlement programme, and the hubs will work with local training providers to place them according to current skills gaps.

Paul Kessell-Holland, head of partnerships at the ETF, said that targeting forces personnel to meet the shortage of teachers was a “logical” move, and fulfilled the “moral” imperative to help them to resettle back into civilian life.

“It’s a unique ecosystem in the forces,” he said. “And within that ecosystem, effectively every trade and technician skill you could possibly need is catered for – whether it is catering, decorating and plumbing as well as the hard skills of engineering and mechanics and electronics. So it’s a very logical [solution to the] recruitment problem.”

This is an edited version of an article in the 13 January edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full story here. To subscribe, click here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here. TES magazine is available at all good newsagents.

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