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New military style education initiative

Under a new £1.9 million initiative, four projects will be set up to pass on values taught in the military to children who have been excluded from school, Education Secretary Michael Gove said.

Ex-servicemen will be employed to help instil teamwork, discipline and leadership skills through mentoring, outward bound activities and other group exercises such as military-style obstacle courses.

Ministers said they hope the schemes will raise standards among pupils in alternative provision - those who have been excluded from mainstream education - who often lag behind other children.

Last year, only 1.5% of pupils in alternative provision achieved at least five GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and maths - about 40 times worse than their peers in mainstream education, according to Department for Education (DfE) figures.

"Every child can benefit from the values of a military ethos," Mr Gove said. "Self-discipline and teamwork are at the heart of what makes our Armed Forces the best in the world - and are exactly what all young people need to succeed. Exclusion from school should never mean exclusion from education."

Some £600,000 of the funding is going to Commando Joes' in Cheshire; £700,000 to Challenger Troop in Tunbridge Wells, Kent; £400,000 to Knowsley Skills Academy in Prescot, Merseyside; and £200,000 to Newcastle-based SkillForce.

All four use activities including one-to-one mentoring, military-style obstacle courses and team-building exercises. They also help re-integrate pupils and prepare them for post-16 courses or jobs, as well as helping primary school children in their move to secondary school.

Former bomb disposal expert Mike Hamilton, director of Commando Joes', said the £600,000 package will help expand it nationwide: "We teach children the skills we learned in the army. Not everyone wants to be a soldier, but the skills we learn in the military are brilliant and I think anybody can use them in any job."

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