Three Scottish schools are turning to army disciplinary methods to re-engage pupils turned off by the traditional curriculum.
Broxburn Academy in West Lothian, Hawick High in the Borders, and Grange Academy in East Ayrshire are taking part in a pilot project that will see them establish army cadet detachments of up to 30 pupils, usually aged 14 to 16 years.
The pupils will train at least one afternoon a week for two hours and in some cases will join their community cadets one evening a week. They will also take part in training camps.
Each school detachment will be supported by a member of school staff and an adult volunteer from the local Army Cadet Force battalion.
Currently 15 Scottish independent schools have Combined Cadet Force contingents. But, unlike the model being piloted, these have no links with the local community cadets - something that is often cited as a weakness.
Last month, Prime Minister David Cameron, announced a pound;10 million programme to create more cadet units in state secondary schools across England.
The Westminster government wants to see the current 300 units increased by a further 100 by 2015 to teach young people "vital skills such as teamwork and discipline".
At Broxburn Academy, two groups will make up the school's cadet detachment: S3 pupils, who can opt in as part of their broad general education, and S4-6 pupils.
Each group of about 15 youngsters will attend Drumshoreland Cadet Centre for two one-and-a-half hour blocks of training each wek. The senior pupils will also spend one period a week completing classroom-based tasks.
Broxburn's headteacher, Peter Reid, hopes that participation in the programme will lead to pupils achieving the second star level of the Army Cadet Force curriculum, the army proficiency certificate; a uniformed and emergency services Intermediate 1; a bronze Duke of Edinburgh's award; and a first aid certificate.
He said: "Traditionally, these are kids who would not be picking up much in the way of qualifications in their secondary education, so this seemed an ideal opportunity."
Robbie Gibson, chief executive of Lowland Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Association, said: "We are confident that the cadet experience will bring lasting benefit to those who are members of the school detachment. They will become more confident individuals who will be able to work effectively in a team and gain a respect for others."
The Army Cadet Force in Scotland has 5,000 cadets in over 220 cadet centres.
A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH
There are three strands to Army Cadet Force training:
- the star system, a progressive syllabus using military subjects such as map reading, target shooting and field craft;
- adventurous training, sport and expeditions;
- vocational training through programmes such as the Duke of Edinburgh's award.