All items from ForcesWatch

30/06/2015 ForcesWatch comment

Following our recent piece on the news story that the Ministry of Defence requested access (which the Department for Education rejected) to the database of sensitive data of school students in England, to help the Army better target its recruitment practice, it has emerged that the Army - in collaboration with Royal Holloway College and the mobile phone app specialists DotNet - was specifically seeking to match individuals’ data with specific Army jobs, with a mobile phone app an apparent intended output.

This and other revelations undermine the claims by the MoD quoted in the original news coverage of the story that they aren’t targeting individuals for recruitment, and that the request was an error that had been “halted”.

27/06/2015 ForcesWatch comment

A year ago we wrote how Armed Forces Day symbolises the creep of militarism into our civil institutions. Far from being merely a reflection of public respect, this creep is the result of a concerted effort, which can be tracked through policy initiatives and is fuelled by concern that the military are losing control of the public narrative around defence. We noted how these public displays, which are ostensibly about supporting 'the men and women who make up the Armed Forces', (including Camo DayReserves Day and the Poppy Appeal), act to market the military as an institution and to build a positive and uncritical narrative around it and support its recruitment needs.

A year, and another Armed Forces Day, later, we look here at how militarism continues to creep into schools and colleges and how recent developments further embed military approaches and interests within the education system.

27/06/2015 ForcesWatch comment

Letter to The Independent (see all signatories below)

Towns and cities across the UK will today be 'celebrating' Armed Forces Day. Many councils hold these events as signatories to the Armed Forces Community Covenant; almost every local authority has now pledged support to the armed forces in perpetuity, and hundreds of businesses, charities, and even schools have signed the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant.

Many of today's events are packaged as 'family fun' with military vehicles and weaponry to entice young people, and cadet and armed forces careers marketing to recruit them. War is not family entertainment. The school assembly packs on offer from the Ministry of Defence display a breath-taking economy with the truth about the purpose and consequences of military action.

09/06/2015 ForcesWatch comment

The Department for Education has given out its £3.5 million ‘Character Awards’ and its £3.5 million Character Education grants, both championed by Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan, to 27 schools and youth organisations in England, and 14 youth projects, respectively.  Despite the DfE's heralding of 'military ethos' as an  excellent means of developing character, none of those awarded mention military-style activities in their descriptions (see here and here).

09/06/2015 ForcesWatch comment

Looking back on being part of a school-based cadet unit, the author reflects that, despite the fun and experience to be gained, the benefits could be achieved with non-military activities which would not present a dangerous and risk-laden career as an enjoyable and exciting activity or expose young people to an environment where bullying and hazing are normalised.

05/06/2015 ForcesWatch comment

Schools Week today report that the Ministry of Defence requested access to the National Pupil Database. The request was for the most sensitive pupil data and was refused by the Department for Education. There is substantial evidence that the armed forces already engage with schools for recruitment purposes so we ask why, if 'targeted messaging' in schools about armed forces careers is not for the 'well-being' of students, are they allowed to visit schools - and run military activities such as cadets in them - at all? 

31/05/2015

The armed forces make around 11,000 visits to secondary schools and colleges schools in the UK each year, and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) spends around £26 million each year on school Combined Cadet Force (CCF) units, both of which have a strong recruitment agenda behind them, contrary to the repeated denials of this in recent years by the MoD.

This briefing is a compilation of evidence that contradicts the MoD and armed forces' claims that they don’t recruit in schools and that 'engaging' with students does not have a recruitment purpose.

07/05/2015 ForcesWatch comment

The DfE's recent communication to schools about the 70th anniversary of VE Day on 8 May suggests that schools 'will want to celebrate and commemorate' the event. This is the third set of learning materials promoted by the DfE within the past year around military issues. Do 'celebrations' around remembrance events inevitably drown out the more cautious messages about the price of victory?

22/04/2015 ForcesWatch comment

Here we provide two sample questions that you can ask candidates as well as key points and further sources of information. You can find your candidates contact details using https://yournextmp.com/. Let us know if you get any responses!

Do you agree that the UK should raise its age of recruitment to 18 in line with the international human rights standards established by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child?

Is the promotion of the armed forces and 'military ethos' appropriate within education? Should parents be consulted about the involvement of the military at their school?

See here for key points to make and sources of information

03/03/2015 press release

The Government's material for schools about the armed forces has been criticised today by the human rights group ForcesWatch and Quakers in Britain.

03/03/2015

The report is published in conjunction with the video The British Armed Forces: Propaganda in the classroom? produced by Quaker Peace & Social Witness

 

This report explains why the British Armed Forces Learning Resource (published in September 2014 by the Prime Minister's Office) is a poor quality educational resource, and exposes the resource as a politically-driven attempt to promote recruitment into the armed forces and “military values” in schools.

19/12/2014 press release

A new report published today shows that the armed forces visited four fifths (83%) of state secondary schools within a two year period, between 2010-2012. The report argues that the purpose of many of the visits is related to recruitment into the armed forces.

19/12/2014

This report has been compiled by ForcesWatch and is co-sponsored by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) which is is the largest teaching union in Scotland.

The report is based on figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. It has been co-sponsored by the Educational Institute of Scotland which has expressed concerns that some armed forces visits may have a recruitment purpose.

A new report published today shows that the armed forces visited four fifths (83%) of state secondary schools within a two year period, between 2010-2012. The report argues that the purpose of many of the visits is related to recruitment into the armed forces.

10/12/2014 ForcesWatch comment

On 7 December 2014, Michael Gove’s successor as Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan made her support for the Military Ethos in Schools programme clear by pledging a further £4.8 million to eight ‘alternative provision with a military ethos’ schemes. This follows previous funding between 2012 and 2014 that amounted to £8.2 million. The Quakers have written a letter with their concerns about the new announcement to Nicky Morgan, which can be read here. Below are our key initial concerns.

01/12/2014 recent article

Did you know that the UK armed forces recruit 16-year-olds? Owen Everett from ForcesWatch explores the UK military’s wide influence in the education system and the concerns that arise from this.