Soldiers thanked for helping pupils

A HEADTEACHER has praised the efforts of soldiers who helped to build a school garden - just days after a union spoke out against the use of “misleading” military propaganda in schools.

Elliot Furniss

A HEADTEACHER has praised the efforts of soldiers who helped to build a school garden - just days after a union spoke out against the use of “misleading” military propaganda in schools.

Patricia Wilkie, of the Layer-de-la-Haye Primary School, near Colchester, said she had been hugely impressed by the attitude and behaviour of the group.

The four soldiers, who were under sentence from the nearby Military Correctional Training Centre (MCTC), had been helping the school by constructing a vegetable garden, laying a path, putting in some fencing and building a bird garden.

Mrs Wilkie said: “They have done lots and lots of different jobs. They have been so helpful asking if there was anything else we would like doing and being very flexible and it's been great.

“They have been a credit to the MCTC and a huge help to us. They have been a real benefit to our school and both sides have gained a lot from it.”

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Her comments come after a public debate about the “glamorisation” of military propaganda used for recruitment purposes in schools between delegates at the National Union of Teachers' (NUT) annual conference in Manchester.

Members backed a motion committing the NUT to “support teachers and schools in opposing Ministry of Defence recruitment activities that are based upon misleading propaganda”.

The move was backed by Jerry Glazier, secretary of the Essex branch of the NUT.

However Mr Glazier said he supported the positive presence of the armed forces in schools and said the link-up in Layer-de-la-Haye showed the military could have a role to play in education.

He said: “Positive interaction with schools results in understanding and appreciation of the armed forces.

“It's a perfectly acceptable career but the concern being expressed is that some of the television advertising has been very dynamic and does make it look very exciting and interesting. We need to just make sure it is balanced.”

MCTC staff member Sergeant Mark Nichol said the project was all about “putting something back” into the community.

He said: “Many of these guys are close to leaving the services so it's about trying to get them back into civilian life and working with people outside of the army.”

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