Page last updated at 23:09 GMT, Sunday, 28 September 2008 00:09 UK

Tory teaching offer to ex-troops

Returning troops should be honoured, the Conservatives say

Ex-servicemen and women could get free teacher training under a Conservative government, the shadow schools secretary will announce.

Michael Gove, who supported similar proposals in February, will tell the Tory party conference that classroom discipline could benefit.

Personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan would also be offered free university tuition under the proposals.

The idea is based on a similar scheme in the US for returning troops.

In America the Troops to Teachers scheme helps soldiers move into teaching as a career. Since World War II returning American soldiers have also been given the opportunity to attend college.

In July, the UK government announced that people with more than six years' experience in the armed forces would be able to apply for free higher or further education courses when they leave.

Mr Gove, due to outline his party's plans in a speech to conference delegates in Birmingham on Tuesday, will say he expects 1,000 ex-personnel to apply.

The young men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq are heroes of our time

Michael Gove
Shadow schools secretary

The Tories say they will offer bursaries of 9,000 to 200 ex-service personnel who take post-graduate teacher training. They will also pledge to pay university tuition fees for a first degree for anyone who has completed an active tour of duty.

In February, Mr Gove expressed support for a similar policy recommendation from the Centre for Policy Studies think tank.

In his conference speech, Mr Gove will say: "In 1945 the American government honoured the men and women who'd fought against fascism - the greatest generation - with a piece of legislation, the GI Bill, which granted returning heroes the right to free university education.

"The young men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq are heroes of our time, their sacrifices in the cause of freedom make them the greatest of our generation, and they deserve the thanks of all of us.

"That is why a Conservative government will honour their service by guaranteeing them the right to free university education."

He is also due to say that Conservatives would expand the charity Skill Force which trains ex-forces personnel to mentor young people.

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