Good news – after months of hard work ForcesWatch and Quakers in Scotland have now formally submitted our petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for an inquiry into armed forces visits to schools.
We are urging MSPs to strike a ‘new deal’ on armed forces visits to schools, ensuring greater scrutiny, transparency and guidance over visits.
There’s already been a hugely positive response to the petition, with more than four hundred signatories in the first four days. You too can sign it, whether you live in Scotland or not.
You’ll find it here and it’s live until the 20th March.
Please do Tweet and Facebook the link – and tell friends and family. We are also planning a series of local meeting to discuss the issues raised in the petition. These will be held in Edinburgh on Monday 14th March at the Quaker Meeting House, Glasgow on Tues 15th at the STUC, and Aberdeen on Thurs 17th at the Quaker Meeting House - details here.
The Scottish media has been keen to cover the story with The Herald newspaper and prominent website the Common Space running full articles about the petition.
These both quoted ForcesWatch coordinator – Emma Sangster – saying: “A new deal is badly needed on this issue as the number of visits that the armed forces make to schools has risen significantly over the past ten to twelve years.
“There is a lack of clarity regarding the nature of armed forces visits and who is responsible for overseeing them. Our fear is these visits are being used as a recruitment tool in schools, with the military promoted only in a positive light.”
Our campaign has been backed by prominent socialist campaigner, Cat Boyd, who said “schools are for education, not the military. I support the campaign against targeting children for army recruitment.”
The targeting of young people in Scotland’s schools has also been criticised by Rory Steel – SNP youth vice-convener – who accused the MoD of using “cleverly selected snapshots of army life that do not portray the reality” in their adverts.
Coverage of the petition also formed the backdrop to prominent articles by The Herald and Daily Telegraph in the days following a major row over Conservative plans to create military cadet units in disadvantaged Scottish state schools.
SNP children’s minister, Aileen Campbell, has cold-shouldered the idea, stressing that, unlike in England, Scottish state schools have never had cadet units based within them.
The EIS teaching union – which has called on people to sign the petition – also said there would be “a fair degree of concern among the teaching profession if we were to go down this route” on in-school cadet units.