Tom Burkard undertakes Education research for the Centre for Policy Studies and is a member of the NAS/UWT and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Buckingham. He is currently working to start a free special school staffed exclusively by teachers with experience in the armed forces.
Since 1994, the American Troops to Teachers programme has been training ex-service personnel to teach in tough inner-city schools. It has been an astounding success: school principals overwhelmingly agree that ex-soldiers are more effective than conventionally-trained teachers. That's all the more remarkable because almost all of these principals are conventionally-trained teachers themselves.
This isn't to say that ex-soldiers are supermen and superwomen; rather, they have spent upwards of 20 years moulding young people (who as often as not come from blighted urban areas) into effective and highly-skilled teams. It's obvious that they will be better prepared to work in a rough school than a 23-year-old graduate from a middle-class background. Throwing these young NQTs into our urban comps is rather a bit like Haig throwing his men against German machine-guns in 1914.