‘Ludicrous’ blast at army schools plan

Coun Simon Blackburn
Coun Simon Blackburn
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PROPOSALS to set up a network of military schools in deprived areas have been slammed as “ludicrous” and a “desperate publicity stunt” by a council leader.

Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn has blasted plans put forward by a Government think tank to prevent youngsters turning into a new generation of thugs.

According to a report by ResPublica, new military academies would draw upon the “unique technical and vocational expertise” of the armed forces to address poor discipline and educational failure in problem neighbourhoods.

The report was compiled by the independent organisation in the wake of last summer’s riots.

It is calling for a pilot scheme which would see 10 schools set up in “Neet blackspots” – where a large proportion of youngsters are not in education, employment or training - before rolling them out in all local education authorities.

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But despite Blackpool having a high number of teens classified as Neet, youngsters should be “aspirational” about their careers, according to Coun Blackburn.

He said: “I have the greatest of respect for service personnel and am in awe of the sacrifices they make, but I cannot think how this is anything other than a somewhat desperate political stunt.

“A career in the forces is an opportunity open to young people in Blackpool already, and a popular opportunity at that.

“Setting up some sort of disciplinarian boot camp, or school for naughty kids however is ludicrous.

“We want Blackpool children to receive a rounded, holistic education, achieve good qualifications, and be aspirational about choosing their own career.

“The Government cannot use this type of rhetoric to divert attention from the fact their failed economic policies have led to vast rises in youth unemployment.”

But Phillip Blond, the founder of ResPublica, added: “If the Government is serious about harnessing the expertise and ethos of the armed forces, then they must be far more radical.”