A 'MAIL ONLINE' report for Friday 19th July 2013

Only 5% of naval recruits are under the age of 18 on joining. Thinking about the theme of this story, that's 1 in 20 for those of you not good at basic sums.

Two in five Army recruits have reading level and maths skills of 11-year-olds, but MPs say that the  Army, RAF and Naval Service have good records  in improving skills.

All recruits in 2012 were above level equivalent to a 7 or 8 year old,  but 39% had literacy level and 38% numeracy level of 11 year old.

Almost two fifths of Army recruits have the reading level of an 11-year-old, MPs warned today. A similar proportion can only do maths aimed at pupils in their final year of primary school, according to a report by the Commons defence select committee. The Army, Royal Air Force and the Naval Service have a good record in improving the maths and English skills of young recruits and trainees who join with low levels of qualifications, the study found.  The minimum requirement of new recruits is ‘entry level 2’, the report says - equivalent to the standard expected of a seven or eight-year-old in literacy and numeracy. Of those who were recruited in 2012, all of those who joined the Naval Service or the RAF were above entry level 2. But 39 per cent of the Army had a literacy level of an 11 year old, and 38 per cent had this level of ability in numeracy.

It also found that 3.5 per cent of the Army were reading at the level of a seven or eight-year-old, while 1.7 per cent were at this standard in maths. The Ministry of Defence had told the committee that it recruits service personnel at whatever level of attainment is available, the report says, adding that if this is the case, then it should take action when entry standards are particularly low. It says that in light of planned changes to the three services, ‘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,’ the report says.  ‘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.’

Committee chair James Arbuthnot said it is 'vital' that service personnel receive 'excellent education'.

Young servicemen and women are being offered ‘challenging and constructive’ education and employment opportunities, the cross-party group of MPs acknowledge. The committee also raises concerns that the Army is dependent on recruiting 16 and 17-year-olds. More than one in four (28 per cent) of Army recruits are under the age of 18 when they join, compared with 5 per cent for the Naval Service and 8 per cent for the RAF.
‘We support the armed forces' provision of challenging and constructive education and employment opportunities for young people,’ the report says. ‘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.’ Committee chair James Arbuthnot said: ‘It is vital we provide excellent education for our personnel not just for their own career development but also to give them confidence that when the time comes to leave the service they will be able to transfer to a civilian career.' The Conservative MP for North East Hampshire added: ‘They are more likely to remain in the service if this is the case. 'We welcome the work that has been done to increase the number of areas where personnel can acquire a civilian qualification and we would like to see this work further extended'.

The only things new about this story are the jargon used [naval services indeed: do they mean the Royal Navy, as always, sailors, marines, nurses, and why has it changed and not so the RAF or the Army titles ?  Continuing with jargon, the MOD of course replaced the War Office, the Admiralty and the Air Ministry, and GCSE's, were GCE's!

Otherwise, very little has changed except for the reduction of under 18 year olds passing through the doors of the high street Recruiting Offices.

If you read all the links referred you will see why the findings/observations in todays media reveal nothing new. 

 I had many years directly involved in all aspects of naval training, academic, vocational, training requiring high levels of dexterity, general naval training {fire fighting - Green Godess, physical and electronic security, first aid, moral leadership, terrestrial navigation, ship and submarine orientated}, and virtually all of these require a student to have a better than average level of intelligence, literacy, numeracy, common sense, communication skills and have a demonstrative zeal for technical challenges and a sharp awareness of interactive participation to resolve all issues.

Much has been written and discussed about getting rid of under 18 year olds altogether, and with international pressure, this will surely come about in the middle distant future.  Moreover, there are more than a few signs of "wall writings" to suggest a change to our armed forces akin to that attempted by the Canadians back in the 1960's [when the RCN disappeared], designed to take us away from a now-near tri-service environment to a single-service, which would dispatch all we have ever known into the 'recycle bin' - like "inter", "intra", "joint" [for there would be nothing to join, the new UK armed services being a totally homogeneous polynomial] force. http://www.godfreydykes.info/FOR_YOUNG_SOLDIERS_ALSO_READ_YOUNG_SAILORS.html

The truth of the matter is that we have always had a high failure rate at the point of recruiting, and even past that point - note the statement above, replicated here which states, " the Ministry of Defence had told the committee that it recruits service personnel at whatever level of attainment is available" and if that is not stating the bleeding obvious, I don't know what is. Wasn't it ever thus?

Just over sixty years ago, the navy recruited two hundred boys a month and just over one hundred a month to HMS Ganges and HMS St Vincent respectively and that amount {three hundred} boys went to sea to their first ship per month. They were all well under the age of 18 almost by up to three years, and many of them were way below an acceptable and satisfactory standard of education, which in those days was based on the three R's {
Reading, writing and arithmetic} or, and (sic) Reading, riting and rithmatic. This story is explicit and needs no additions to that I wrote a few years ago. It took several years for the HMI [Her Majesty's Inspector....] report/findings to put parents minds to rest, which included my time at HMS Ganges.GANGES TRAINING - WITHOUT THE MYTHS.htm  At my time of joining in the early 1950's the navy were so desperately short of boy recruits [see files within the above URL]  that I should have asked for more tangible rewards than were on offer, and they were few and almost certainly written by that infamous 7th Century B.C., Greek legislator, yes, friend DRACO - serious, and no messing!  Bringing things further up to date time-wise, it was widely believed that before his father was jailed for theft and corruption in 1824 as a civilian employee of the navy, he had been in the navy proper and had worked for a Purser. All Pursers [Pussers] were renown for robbing the ships company of goods, food, rum, pay and tobacco. The son? - why he was Charles Dickens, and he like all members of the family were "troubled" with finances and did everything in their powers to keep them fluid and readily available.   Charles had a first cousin Paul whose son Thomas [died 1922] served as a paymaster CPO [what in my time was called a CPO Writer [Pay] in HMS Ganges whilst at Falmouth.  I wonder, just wonder whether he cured his "troubles on his finances" at the expense of the boys during his incumbency as the controller of the pay ledger? Whatever the answer, I feel sure that the word Dickensian should be added to the word Draconian to paint a canvas of life in Ganges at its worst times.

Throughout, but particularly since the time when boys went to school' with a secondary modern school accreditation coupled with naval vocational training, Ganges and St Vincent for example, the theme on recruiting has been cryptic, ranging from 'recruit at all costs irrespective of academic ability' - accepting throughout a state of physical well being without compromises - 'selective recruiting for depleted branches/skills'; 'age changes to suite/match national educational changes'; 'to address high attrition rates and poor re-engaging figures'; and my list is not prioritised or exhausted.

Even time honoured academic grades of AC and GC had to be re-defined to take account of the poor material coming from the recruiters. This involved the splitting of the GC grade [General Class] already a low academic achievement, to become GC Upper and GC Lower, maintaining the top grade of AC [Advance Class] for both mainstream groups of trainees, namely Communicators and Seamen. This was a typical test taken by an AC Boy
HMS_GANGES_EDUCATIONAL_TEST_OF_1925 (2012_11_19 20_20_07 UTC).htm

This file summarises much on the subject of naval education in the period from the end of WW2 to the end of the 1980's

And just who were were the "bright buttons" of HMS Ganges training and remember we are assessing 15 to 16 year old boys

Joining the navy, being placed in a Branch and choosing an engagement period, all directly related to ability

Those criteria for joining-up and using the education route readily available to all

Don't worry, and if pongo's in particular are a bit thick, then they always have been, but what the hell, they still win the wars and that is all we can ask of them.  Go well lads with mine and I am sure your blessing.