The Armed Forces will be drafted in to run state schools under plans to drive up discipline and respect in classrooms.
Ministers are in talks with defence chiefs about taking over a handful of schools and turning them into military academies.
Alongside daily lessons, pupils would be expected to take part in activities such as drills, uniformed parades, weapons handling and adventure training.
The first state schools set to gain ‘military academy’ status are understood to be based in Portsmouth and Colchester.
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The controversial scheme will initially be in areas where there are a large number of military families, but is set to be rolled out across the country.
Ministers believe that children in failing schools would particularly benefit from a military-style education because it would give them role models and a more structured existence.
But the plan is likely to raise fears among teaching unions that the academies could turn into tough ‘boot camps’ or recruiting stations.
Last year, union leaders accused the Army of giving children ‘misleading propaganda’ about life in the Armed Forces.