© Press Association

Soldiers should be retrained to work in schools, says Lord Guthrie
A new chain of schools staffed entirely by ex-servicemen should be created to improve standards of discipline in the inner-cities, according to the former Chief of the Defence Staff.

Lord Guthrie said a generation of schools modeled on the Armed Forces was needed to create a culture of respect among children from the "toughest and roughest backgrounds".

He insisted that too many schools were currently failing to address serious behavioural problems.

Plans are already being drawn up to open a state secondary school in Manchester staffed by ex-members of the Army, Navy and RAF.

The Phoenix Free School - a comprehensive run free of local council control - could be opened within two years to serve pupils aged 11 to 18.

Its backers claim it will impose zero-tolerance discipline, place a heavy emphasis on sport and outdoor activities and encourage competition with a traditional house system and streaming by academic ability.

Lord Guthrie, who has been named as the school's patron, said that if the Manchester comprehensive was a success it should "serve as a model for a chain of hundreds of schools across the country".

"The characteristics of the ideal modern soldier are far removed from the popular stereotype," he said. "Yes, courage, strength and resilience are of course important, but they are secondary to other requirements: self-discipline, respect for others and the ability to listen, learn and adapt."

Writing in the foreword to a report published by the Centre for Policy Studies, he said: "I suspect that the qualities needed by the modern soldier are innate virtues, ones that can be drawn out from all of us.

"But it is clear that too many of our schools are failing to do just that. The proposals here offer an alternative: a new inner-city school to be staffed entirely by ex-servicemen devoted to drawing out the best in all their pupils by demonstrating the best of today's martial values."

He said state schools run by former troops "would be no sticking plaster for the social problems our country faces" but would "help to address deep-seated problems which are now increasingly apparent".

The first Phoenix school is to be opened under the Government's "free schools" programme, in which parents, charities and entrepreneurs are given state funding to run their own primary or secondary free of local authority control.

The project is being led by Tom Burkard, an academic and author, and Captain AK Burki, a serving officer in the Royal Corps of Signals.

Writing in the CPS study, they say the school is set to open within two years, subject to Government approval.

It comes as the Ministry of Defence prepares to make thousands of troops redundant to save money.