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Ex-forces staff plan to open new school

The first UK school with a full staff of teachers who have all served in the armed forces is actively recruiting prospective pupils and hoping to open in 2013.

British Forces

The first UK school with a full staff of teachers who have all served in the armed forces is actively recruiting prospective pupils and hoping to open in 2013.

The group planning the Phoenix Free School in Oldham say they are pleased with the response from people so far, they have 60 children signed up. In February, they plan to submit their application to the Department for Education.

The idea of the Phoenix school was conceived by Tom Burkard, a former teacher and military instructor. He says the school will teach children between the ages of 11 and 18, and encourage high standards of behaviour, literacy and numeracy.

Mr Burkard has been pushing the idea for several years, In 2008 he wrote a report - Troops to Teachers for the Centre for Policy Studies, urging the government to adopt a successful US-style programme which retrains ex-servicemen and women as teachers. It suggested ex-forces staff could have a profound effect on discipline and learning.

It is an idea supported by the government. In the 2010 Schools White Paper, Education Secretary Michael Gove unveiled plans to offer former troops sponsorship to retrain as teachers. The scheme is expected to come into force later this year.

For the Phoenix Free School they are now focussed on building their pupil base and have been handing out leaflets in Oldham’s shopping centres. Captain AK Burki, who completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2010 hopes to run the school as its head teacher.

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