Military is to train civil servants at Sandhurst as part overhaul of the system, Boris Johnson says

Danielle Sheridan
Civilians are likely to undergo leadership training at Sandhurst 
Civilians are likely to undergo leadership training at Sandhurst

The military is to train civil servants at Sandhurst as part of the Government’s radical overhaul of the system, Boris Johnson has revealed.

A Cabinet Office source told The Daily Telegraph that the Royal Military Academy has been singled out for the training as “it is widely recognised as a good leadership training venue”.

The Prime Minister told MPs at a Liaison Committee on Wednesday that it remained a Government policy that there would be a “properly resourced campus for training people in Government”.

He said: “There used to be an operation in sunningdale. It might be that we fund it with the military and that we do something at Sandhurst where there are fantastic facilities."

Mr Johnson added that while “we have an amazing civil service” who have “done an amazing job throughout this incredible difficult time”, there was an argument for formal training.

“But formal training is, I think, i’m not necessarily saying we want to have our own Ecole nationale d'administration, but there is merit in training for our civil servants and we’re certainly looking at that,” he said.

The Telegraph understands that while the modernisation programme of Whitehall will predominantly exist online, with face to face training commencing when allowed, “one of the things which is being looked at is whether they could have a facility at Sandhurst, a partnership or some use of training facilities there”.

In August last year The Telegraph revealed that Sandhurst had seen a “surge” in applications due to the coronavirus pandemic, with applications for officer entry up by 62 per cent compared to 2019.

General Lord Dannatt, former chief of the general staff, credited it to the fact that people recognised it as a reputable place to spend “a year developing your leadership skills”.

It comes after Michael Gove pledged in June last year to reform the civil service which would involve a “proper, and properly-resourced campus for training”.

Lord Agnew, Mr Johnson's minister for Whitehall reform, whose work is overseen by Mr Gove, later said that the civil service was "broken" and suffered from a "desperate shortage of practical skills"

He described Whitehall as "the most overcentralised bureaucracy in the Western world", in which the "overwhelming majority" of civil servants were "urban metropolitan thinkers".

In December 2019 The Telegraph revealed that Mr Johnson was plotting a dramatic overhaul of Whitehall after his landslide election victory, in a drive to demonstrate that the Government “works for the people”.