MP: Give children lessons about Armed Forces

By Jon Craig, Chief Political Correspondent
Children should be taught about the Armed Forces in school in a bid to tackle a military recruitment crisis, the Prime Minister has been told.
Mark Francois MP, a former Territorial Army officer who served as Armed Forces minister from 2013 to 2015, is proposing children should be taught about the military as part of the national curriculum.His recommendation comes in a report, commissioned by Theresa May, in which he also calls for more women and ethnic minority recruits, as well as more black and Asian generals, admirals and RAF top brass.Mr Francois blames political correctness, left-wing teaching and an emphasis on "peace studies" in schools for the failure to educate children about the role and value of the UK's Armed Forces in the world.In his report, "Filling the Ranks", he claims young people leaving school have "little, if any" exposure to the Armed Forces and do not even consider the military as a potential career option.
MP: Give children lessons about Armed Forces

The Army needs to recruit 10,000 people a year to maintain its strength
Other reasons for a 10% shortfall in recruitment facing the Armed Forces - and 30% in the Army - he believes, include record employment levels and more school leavers going to university."You have to make it a formal part of the curriculum to ensure it will be taught," he said."There is a risk you could encounter resistance from some left-wing teachers to the idea."Research shows that young people today don't necessarily have much familiarity with the Armed Forces unless they served in a cadet unit or someone from their family served in uniform."You have large numbers of people leaving education with no real understanding of the Armed Forces and why it's important to them."Mr Francois believes children could be taught about the military as part of lessons on citizenship and wants more cadet units in schools to give children "a greater opportunity to experience the military ethos and to benefit from it".On the scale of the recruitment crisis and problems of retention facing the forces, the MP claims all three branches of the military are "running to stand still" as they struggle to replace the numbers leaving.
"This continuing process of 'hollowing out' in the ranks, while costing the Armed Forces valuable experience, also threatens to compound the problem by increasing the pressure on those personnel who remain," he added.On numbers, Mr Francois says:• In the year to April 2017, 12,950 recruits joined the regular Armed Forces, but 14,970 service personnel left in the same period• The Army needs to recruit 10,000 people a year to maintain its strength, but only managed to attract 7,000 entrants last year.
MP: Give children lessons about Armed Forces

The MP wants more women and ethnic minority recruits to the military
Mr Francois also believes the Ministry of Defence (MoD) needs to do "far better" at recruiting people from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds as they currently make up only 7% of the Armed Forces.The former MP points out there is no BAME officer of two-star rank, Major General level, or above, in the military and women make up just 10% of the Armed Forces.His report also highlights the fact 14,269 people per year applying to join the military are turned down on medical grounds, often for "relatively minor ailments" such as asthma or eczema.Responding to the report, an MoD spokesman said: "We thank Mr Francois for his report and agree that recruitment is one of the MOD's top priorities."Joining the military offers the opportunity for a great career, learning new skills and gaining unique experiences not available in civilian life."We're aware of and working on the issues outlined in the report, including investing in recruiting the next generation of talent, diversifying our workforce and increasing our reserve numbers."
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