'Gentle military-style approach' for troubled pupils
Commando Joes’, which will receive around £600,000 from the £1.9 million initiative, said that it combined teamwork and fitness "with a gentle military-style approach".
However, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), told The Independent that self-discipline and teamwork were objectives “that schools instil in pupils day in day out, the majority having never been anywhere near the military”.
The Government funding has probably fast-tracked us by about five or 10 years. The instructors are all ex-military personnel - they are role models and kids look up to and aspire to be like them. When we go to a school playground children hang on every word.
In some of the deprived areas we work in, young people have not got grassy areas or anywhere to go. When they come to our sessions they get a chance to socialise in a different way, to be part of a team.
Our motto is No Child Left Behind - we will work with every child and young person to help them feel motivated to learn and be part of their school and community again.
Former bomb disposal expert Mike Hamilton, 32, who served in the Royal Engineers for eight years - including two tours of Iraq and one of Afghanistan - formed Commando Joes' after leaving the army.
As well as a personal trainer, he was a member of a bomb disposal squad - on one occasion helping clear a whole minefield in an Iraqi village so children could play safely.
He went on to work as part of a recruitment team in the UK and during visits to schools noticed a need to help disillusioned pupils.
Starting Commando Joes as an after-school activity at schools in Manchester in 2009, he has slowly expanded, recruiting extra instructors to teach military-style fitness and one-to-one mentoring, as well as tailor-made team-building exercises and activities.
The boost is part of a wider aim to bring military ethos into the education system, including expansion of the school-based cadets; developing the Troops to Teachers programme; and a rise in the Service Children Premium for Service Children.
Every child can benefit from the values of a military ethos.
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.
These projects are helping pupils in alternative provision reach their full potential and are helping to close the attainment gap.