On Wednesday 11th January 2012, ResPublica published Military Academies: Tackling disadvantage, improving ethos and changing outcome.
A product of ResPublica's Models and Partnerships for Social Prosperity
workstream, one of the three core workstreams of the ResPublica Trust, the publication is the first of a new format known as ResPublica Green Papers. Designed to provide a discussion
platform for single exciting ideas in public policy, the purpose of these
short, provocative pieces is to outline an argument which could spark a debate
and prompt feedback and deeper reflection on the topic. Published and
disseminated on-line, Green Papers are used as a blueprint for future
Written by ResPublica Director Phillip Blond and Patricia Kaszynska, Senior Researcher and Project Manager at ResPublica, the paper outlines a new approach to tackling intergenerational
disadvantage and the social and educational dysfunction that cripples our most
depressed areas. It proposes a new network of transformative educational institutions, Military Academies officially backed by the Armed
Services and delivered by the Cadet Associations which would teach the skills and discipline required to alter outcomes for those who live in our most troubled towns and cities. This new educational offer would be the result of a partnership between the
Ministry of Defence and the Department for Education.
Sponsored by the Armed Forces and delivered with and by the Reserve Forces' and
Cadets' Associations (RFCAs) using their practical experience and existing governance
support, the schools would be located in those regions in areas with the greatest concentration
of young people who are NEET (not in employment, education or training) or at
risk of becoming NEET.
The proposal for a new model
of schooling offers one policy solution to the social ills that became manifest
at the time of the riots in summer 2011. Looking at the educational background of the young
people who took part in the riots, two-thirds were classed as having some form
of special educational need, more
than a third had been excluded from school during 2009-10,
and more than one in 10 of the young people appearing before courts had been
permanently excluded from school. The
Military Academies would open up new opportunities for those lacking hope and
aspiration; they would change the cultural and moral outlook of those currently
engulfed by hopelessness and cynicism.
The paper also makes suggestions for a long-term plan for utilising the
talent and expertise that currently exists in the Armed Forces as well as a way
of assuring and extending the future Reserves’ intake. The programme would create
an additional incentive for joining the UK’s Reserve Forces by providing
significant employment opportunities and a clear career path for those
considering membership. Ultimately, the paper suggests a way for extending the
military ethos beyond its traditional confines so that it extends to those parts
of society that could benefit the most from a renewed sense of purpose and
This publication is part of a set of work encompassing reports, roundtables and conferences that addresses the problems of intergenerational deprivation and institutional disadvantage that compounds the lack of opportunities for too many children and young people in the UK. The overarching conviction uniting this work is that policy solutions capable of tackling these problems have to operate on the level of groups and communities as well as individuals. Past attempts at fighting destitution and disadvantage risk failure because they were designed to improve only individual life chances rather than to transform the outcome for deprived communities as a whole. Unhappily, the effect of many policies aiming to increase social mobility was to move a small number of individuals up the social ladder and leave their communities behind. With social mobility in the UK remaining at the level it was for those born in 1970 and the inequality gap haemorrhaging the aspirations of those at the bottom, a radical rethinking of public policy is needed.