The Armed Forces Covenant in Action? Part 4: Education of Service Personnel - Defence Committee Contents


Conclusions and recommendations



Requirements for the education of 16 and 17 year old recruits

POLICY ON RECRUITING THOSE UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE

1.  We support the Armed Forces' provision of challenging and constructive education and employment opportunities for young people. But we would welcome further information on why the Army is so dependent on recruiting personnel under the age of 18 years compared to the other two Services, and whether steps are being taken to reduce this dependency. (Paragraph 13)

2.  We welcome the expansion of apprenticeships for new recruits and trainees and the improvements in the ratings given by Ofsted. The Armed Forces should build on these improvements to ensure that more establishments providing apprenticeships are rated as outstanding by Ofsted. The MoD should provide us with its plans to address the areas for further improvement identified by Ofsted and its recommendations. (Paragraph 19)

COST-EFFECTIVENESS OF RECRUITING 16 AND 17 YEAR OLD RECRUITS

3.  The MoD should carry out a thorough cost-benefit analysis of the policy of recruiting Armed Forces personnel under the age of 18 years old. It should provide us with this cost-benefit analysis. (Paragraph 24)

Basic level entry requirements

4.  If as the MoD states, it has to recruit personnel at whatever level of attainment is available, then it should boost remedial action when recruitment entry standards are particularly low. In the light of changes brought about by Future Force 2020, it may be that recruiting personnel with higher levels of attainment would better meet the future needs of the Armed Forces. The MoD should identify how it might raise the basic entry level and still recruit sufficient personnel. (Paragraph 27)

Literacy and numeracy support

5.  The Armed Forces have a good record of improving the literacy and numeracy of recruits and trainees who enter the Armed Forces with low levels of attainment. We welcome the introduction of literacy and numeracy support throughout Phase 1 training. The MoD should consolidate this recent improvement by reviewing their support for literacy and numeracy to ensure that it meets best practice as set out by Ofsted. (Paragraph 35)

6.  Whilst we recognise that some recruits may not have done well in their previous academic careers and may not be eager to take further academic exams, the MoD should encourage more recruits to undertake English and Maths GCSEs which would stand them in good stead for future employment. (Paragraph 37)

Defence instructors

7.  The MoD should ensure that all instructors complete the 'Defence Train the Trainer' course before they take up their appointments. The MoD should also institute a system of observation and feedback to all instructors in line with the recommendations made by Ofsted in its recent work for the MoD. In response to this Report, the MoD should set out its plan and timetable to implement these recommendations. (Paragraph 42)

Oversight of education

8.  We support the use of Ofsted inspections, which bring an independent assessment of the performance of training and education within the Armed Forces, in particular, for recruits and trainees under the age of 18 years. The Armed Forces should share the results of the inspections across establishments to help them improve. (Paragraph 47)

Results of Ofsted inspections

INSPECTIONS OF ESTABLISHMENTS

9.  We welcome the continuing improvement in the Ofsted ratings of Armed Forces initial training establishments. The MoD should work to improve all establishments so that they reach the minimum acceptable Ofsted standard of 'good' in a timely fashion. In particular, the MoD should focus its attention on those weaker establishments whose performance has not improved. The MoD should tell us how it intends to achieve this improvement and in what timescale. (Paragraph 52)

Learning Credits

10.  In response to this Report, the MoD should inform us of the results of its investigation into the fall in the take-up of Standard Learning Credits. If appropriate, the MoD should encourage greater take-up amongst Armed Forces personnel. (Paragraph 57)

Funding and the time available for education

11.  The MoD should not reduce funding for education as a result of the 2013 Spending Review. The MoD should promote education in the Armed Forces and encourage the chain of command to find time for personnel to engage in such activities. (Paragraph 62)

Higher education as part of career development for senior leaders

12.  We are persuaded that, as well as recruiting graduates as officers, the provision of higher education for those in command in the Armed Forces is essential and should not be reduced by the MoD as a cost-cutting exercise. The MoD should provide us with the results of the Review of the Higher Command and Staff Course when completed and the response of the Defence Training Board to its recommendations. We will return to the subject of higher education in the Armed Forces, in particular, the need to educate personnel in strategic decision-making, as part of our work on Future Force 2020. (Paragraph 69)

13.  With the increased role envisaged for reservists in Future Force 2020, it is essential that the Armed Forces make Reserve Service as attractive as possible for the reservists and their employers. We see the education accreditation project as an important component in encouraging people to join the Reserves. The MoD should provide us with the results of this project and its implementation plans. (Paragraph 71)

The provision of civilian qualifications

14.  Given that most Armed Forces personnel will need to have at least one further career, we support the MoD's policy of supporting the provision of civilian qualifications. We recommend that the MoD identify the potential for more pilot projects with civilian employers to develop the provision of civilian qualifications and to ensure that vital skills paid for by the MoD are not lost to the country. The MoD should tell us the results of its pilot projects on the training of paramedics. (Paragraph 75)

Resettlement prospects

15.  Most Armed Forces personnel do well in gaining employment after leaving the Services. Many employers find ex-Armed Forces personnel very employable. In particular, employers value their disciplined approach, determination and work ethic. We encourage the MoD to continue its support for the resettlement of Armed Forces personnel, particularly in this time of redundancies from the Armed Forces. (Paragraph 80)

Conclusion

16.  We recognise that training personnel to deliver operational capability is paramount for the Armed Forces. However, we believe that the Armed Forces also provide challenging and constructive education and employment opportunities for young people. We welcome the expansion of apprenticeships for those joining the Service. Ofsted reports that performance in most training establishments is good. But we would wish to see an improvement so that all establishments are rated at least good and more establishments, apprenticeships schemes and courses are rated as outstanding. (Paragraph 81)

17.  Continuing education for serving personnel is important, both for their own career development and for retention. As personnel will almost certainly go on to a further career after they leave the Services, it is also important that training leads to civilian qualifications wherever possible. We welcome work by the Armed Forces to increase the number of areas where personnel can acquire a civilian qualification and would like to see this work further extended. (Paragraph 82)


 
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Prepared 18 July 2013