Scottish Parliament petition
More scrutiny, guidance & consultation on armed forces visits to Scottish schools
In February 2016 ForcesWatch and Quakers in Scotland submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament that calls on the Scottish Government to ensure greater scrutiny, guidance, and consultation with parents/guardians on armed forces visits to schools in Scotland, in order to provide transparency and balance, and in recognition of the unique nature of armed forces careers.
This is a child rights and welfare issue and is recognised as such by the UN and the Children and Young People's Commissioner for Scotland. Without clear oversight and guidance around armed forces visits to schools, the education system can be used to market an armed forces career without fully informing them young people of the risks, restrictions and realities of an armed forces career. In recognition of the UK as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Scottish Government as a leader on children's rights and welfare, a national approach providing consistent practice around armed forces visits to schools should be put in place.
- petition text, background info and comments made by signatories
- summary briefing (Dec 2016) with key points for making a submission
- for a quick summary, read the petition FAQs
The Public Petitions Committee has received further evidence from parents, teachers, schools, child rights organisations, young peoples’ organisations, veterans and careers services and will be considering their submissions on Thursday 2 March 2017. Read the submissions and see our latest letter to the committee in response. A summary is also available.
On 24 November 2016, the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament discussed responses from organisations consulted about the petition, including a further submission from ForcesWatch and Quakers in Scotland. They decided to seek further evidence from parents, teachers, schools, child rights organisations, young peoples’ organisations, veterans and careers services and will accept submissions from those with these interests.
On 15 September 2016, the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament heard evidence from ForcesWatch and Quakers in Scotland about the petition. The Committee agreed to take the issue forward by writing for further information and views to various organisations.
The briefings below provide sources and further detail regarding the points raised in the petition:
- Action taken to resolve issues of concern before submitting the petition
- Level and distribution of armed forces visits to schools
- The recruitment agenda behind the visits
- Students not always encountering a balance of opposing views during the visits
- A lack of transparency, and insufficient consultation, around the visits
- Wider military influence in schools in Scotland aside from armed forces visits
- our research report on Armed Forces Visits to Schools in Scotland
- some recent articles and media coverage
Public meetings on armed forces visits to schools in Scotland
ForcesWatch spoke alongside veterans and teachers at events to promote our petition to the Scottish Parliament on armed forces visits to schools, in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen in March 2016. Read a report of the events here.
Some comments from petition signatories
"As a retired teacher, I feel strongly about the way in which the Armed Forces exploit impressionable teenagers with their distorted version of what it will be like if they join up. I always opposed such school visits and fully support this campaign."
"I understand that local authorities are very short of cash for education, and may therefore welcome a military contribution to the school curriculum, especially the exciting outdoor activity which needs expensive equipment. This is an easy opportunity for military infiltration for the purpose of recruitment, implying a satisfying career but ignoring the moral considerations, the mental risks to immature brains, and the very real physical risks."
"Parents and guardians should not only be consulted in advance about these visits, but should also be invited to attend - and comment if they wish."
"I am very concerned that the MoD would appear to be targeting schools in deprived areas where there is little other employment and generally poor facilities, and offering the prospect of employment and training without necessarily informing young people of the risks involved and the constraints around leaving once they have 'signed up'. There should be employment and training opportunities which don't involve joining the armed forces."
"I do not feel it is appropriate to encourage young people at such a influential age to join the army before they have even experienced life."
Ask your MP to support raising the age of recruitment
- Contact information for your MP
- Ask your MP to support the campaign to raise the age of recruitment
- Ask your MP to read the Medact report
- Send this parliamentary briefing to your MP
- Watch 'Soldiers at 16: the other side of the story'
- Ask your MP to sign the Early Day Motion calling on the Government to review the recruitment age
- Sample text for contacting your MP
Watch our film - Engage: the military and young people
Why does the military have a 'youth engagement' policy and why is the government promoting 'military ethos' within education? What is the impact of military activities taking place in schools? This short film explores these questions and gives teenagers the opportunity to voice their reaction to the military’s interest in their lives.
Our military out of schools campaign
The UK armed forces visit thousands of schools each year. They offer school presentation teams, youth teams, ‘careers advice’ and lessons plans. The Department for Education is promoting 'military ethos in schools'. Should the armed forces by given access to children within education? Should 'military values' be promoted in schools? How can we challenge these activities? How can a more balanced view of what life in the armed forces involves be given to young people? Read more about the Military Out Of Schools campaign
Recent ForcesWatch reports
For more about our work to raise the minimum age of recruitment see here
For more about our campaign to challenge the involvement of the military in education see here