Soldiers must be armed with right training to teach

29th February 2008 at 00:00
It was interesting to read the article on the initiative to encourage former soldiers to enter the teaching profession ("Stand by your desks: the sergeant major's on his way," TES, February 22). However, for someone who has spent so long in the army, I am surprised at the rather simplistic attitude of Peter Cross, the chief executive of Skill Force, as to what engenders respect. He must know that it has to be earnt.

I am a serving member of the armed forces and I shall be leaving this September in order to train as a teacher. I have applied for two graduate teacher programme schemes and have an application running for a place on a PGCE course. For the past seven years, I have been reading for an Open University degree in mathematics, which I passed last December.

I am doing all this because I believe that any aspiring teacher must have the appropriate intellectual underpinning and training before setting foot in the classroom. My extensive service in the army has done nothing to provide this - not that I expected it to. Luckily the army does provide a limited degree of financial support, but everything else has been through my own efforts in my own time.

I know many members of the armed forces who might make good teachers, based on their personal qualities; unfortunately, that is not enough. Among the many things the armed forces do well is to ensure that when you are selected for a job you have the appropriate experience and, just as importantly, receive the correct training to do that job before you start it. Experience, however relevant, is simply no substitute for appropriate training, whatever the profession. Therefore, I think I will reserve judgement on this initiative until I know a little more about it.

Tom Hanna, Serving member, armed forces, Thrintoft, North Yorkshire.

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