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Accepted Paper:

Sending the troops in: bringing a 'military ethos' into British schools.  

Author:

Tom Ormson (University of Sheffield)

Paper short abstract:

Since 2012 many in Britain have painted a 'military ethos' within education as a way to improve discipline, provide male role models, and even prevent knife crime. This paper presents the initial findings of a critical discourse analysis of the British government's 'Military Ethos Initiatives'.

Paper long abstract:

Concerns about youth criminality, extremism and violence in the post 9/11 period have led to an ever increasing encroachment by the British state into young people's lives. In turn, the government has taken a greater role in attempting to manage 'at-risk' youngsters, epitomised by its 2012 implementation of 'Military Ethos Initiatives'.

Brought about in part because, in the eyes of one think tank, "children from more deprived neighbourhoods often respond to raw physical power" Military Ethos Initiatives actively seek to bring the military and its supposed values into the educational environment. In the government's eyes, such initiatives bring discipline, leadership and male role models into schools with 'troublesome' kids. They also conveniently provide under-18s (who make up well over 1/4 of recruits) with a positive view of the British Army.

The state has taken a multi-faceted approach to implement these initiatives: introducing cadet units into secondary schools, funding military-style charities to carry out interventions with 'problem' children, enticing veterans into the classroom as teachers, and making use of the government's free schools initiative in an attempt to create military-style schools entirely staffed by veterans.

This paper will present the initial findings from the critical discourse analysis carried out as part of my PhD research. Bringing together newspaper articles, academic and think tank reports, and material used by the government to justify these initiatives, the analysis will critically investigate the class-based, gendered and racialised assumptions that underpin the perceived benefits of a 'Military Ethos' in British schools.

Panel P077
Securitized Education: critical perceptions on the entanglements between military, security and education [Anthropology of Security Network, Peace and Conflict Studies in Anthropology PACSA]