A Teesside University academic has been recognised with the prestigious School of Infantry (SCHINF) Commandant’s Coin from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) after tutoring Gurkha recruits in the British Army.

Barry Saccone, Senior Student Success Tutor (Numeracy), collaborated with Darlington College and the MoD in the Learning and Development Wing (LDW) of the Infantry Training Centre to develop teaching materials and train the renowned Nepalese soldiers for their Technical Selection Test (TST).

This mathematics test forms a critical part of the Gurkhas’ training, and is used to determine which armed forces roles a soldier can enter into in the future.

Barry Saccone was awarded the School of Infantry (SCHINF) Commandant’s Coin for his success in teaching military recruits.

A higher score in the test opens more doors for recruits in terms of their cap badge options.

Barry offered to support the Gurkha recruits through this test as previously there was no formal training offered to prepare participants for the TST, despite its importance in outlining future career opportunities.

He developed key learning materials and practise tests to share knowledge with the soldiers and enable them to improve their understanding of what would be needed in the examination.

Thanks to Barry’s excellent work with the recruits, all of them successfully passed the test, with over half securing a score above 80% which will enable them to follow any of the outlined armed services progression routes.

Barry said: “The commendation itself was a surprise, albeit a very nice one.

“I think the successes really belong with the soldiers who undertook the training and worked hard to get the results they achieved.

“I am thankful that I was given the opportunity to support them and have lots of fond memories of the soldiers and the work we produced.”

The coin was given in recognition of the important role Barry played in developing combat leaders.

Barry left his role as Functional Skills tutor with the armed forces to join Team Teesside and says that his time working with the Gurkha recruits has influenced his teaching style.

He gave the resources which he developed to support the soldiers to the army in order to allow further support to be offered to the Gurkha recruits in future.

“I hope that the learning materials and my teaching notes will help to widen the success and participation of a historically integral group of Gurkha soldiers in years to come,” Barry added.

Major Holligan, the Officer Commanding (OC) of the Learning and Development Wing (LDW) at ITC Catterick, said: “In response to an emerging concern that our Gurkha recruits were struggling to meet their potential in the maths-based Technical Selection Test (TST), Barry offered his maths specialism to the English Language Wing with immediate impact.

“His dedication to learning, mentoring recruits, and supporting his fellow teachers enabled the current Gurkha intake to significantly improve their TST scores in comparison to past cohorts.

“Barry is an excellent example of the impact a teacher or instructor can have by creating tailored training resources for recruits and the LDW thanks him for his support.”

An Army spokesman said: “Gurkhas have made an outstanding contribution to the UK through their years of dedicated service to the Crown and are held in high esteem by the British Army and public alike. We are hugely proud that Gurkhas continue to serve in the British Army.”

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