Harlow Labour candidate starts petition to remove army cadets course from Burnt Mill Academy curriculum

General / Fri 30th Apr 2021 am30 09:03am

A LABOUR candidate for this year’s local election has started a petition calling for Burnt Mill Academy to stop teaching Cadets as a BTEC course.

Jake Shepherd is a Labour candidate for Church Langley.

His petition calls for the Cadet training to be part of the extra curricular offer and not a formal subject.

Although the course has been running for a number of years, been widely advertised and is an integral part of the Open Evening events, the matter has come to a head after an Altham Grove resident and political activist, Michael Szpakowski published a photo of weapons based training being conducted in the playground.

Now Mr Shepherd has taken up the cause with his petition. He has been backed by a number of Labour councillors including those who represent the ward of Netteswell, in which Burnt Mill Academy sits.


YH asked the councillors if they supported the petition?

Cllr Mike Danvers said: “Yes, given the circumstances described. I have nothing against cadet training but if reports are true about using guns I find that aspect of the training unacceptable.

“I helped set up the public services Btec course at Harlow College twenty years ago. I took students to the Peak District for a training session, 25 mile walk, canoeing , swimming  and rock climbing. It was organised by the four regular army soldiers and was very enjoyable.

“However at no time were weapons even seen let alone used”

Fellow Netteswell councillor, Nancy Watson told YH she want to speak to the school before issuing a statement.

The candidate for Netteswell at this year’s local election is Kay Morrison.

Ms Morrison said: “This is shocking, not because I object to students joining cadets of various services, but because it is part of Burnt Mill Academy’s curriculum.

It is completely inappropriate because of the imposition implied, the removal of choice and the weapons training which appears to be inherent.

The element must be removed from the school. Who thought this was a reasonable idea?”

Other Labour councillors including Mark Hall councillor, Lanie Shears and Bush Fair’s Jodi Dunne have backed Mr Shepherd’s petition.

YH has been contacted by parents who have highly praised the course.

One parent, Donna Pilson told YH: “I have had two children who did this course at Burnt Mill. This has been really helpful to them. They have learned so much.

“Not every child is academic. This course is on their CV and as they go into the world of work, it is a real help to them”.

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