All items from ForcesWatch

11/11/2015 ForcesWatch comment

We explore remembrance within education in the context of the plethora of military activities, commemorations, celebrations and military values that schools are being encouraged to take on. And, in the light of, the absence of a compulsory and organised curriculum of peace education within UK schools, our new report shows.


Alternative report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on the Occasion of the UK's fifth periodic review report

This report highlights that peace education is not being promoted in schools. This is counter to the recommendations made by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to the UK Government that peace education should be part of the curriculum. 

This raises concerns particularly with the increased promotion of the military within schools through the Department for Education's 'military ethos' programme and free military-related learning resources, and as the armed forces continue to conduct a substantial 'youth engagement' programme. 

This report focuses on:

  • The absence of a compulsory and organised curriculum of peace education within UK schools.
  • The increased promotion of the military within the educational system by the Government and by the armed forces.
  • Concerns regarding this activity taking place within education, including the process of recruitment to the armed forces.
04/11/2015 recent article

Government figures indicate that, since the Military Ethos in schools projects were announced in 2012, £45.185million of new funding has been awarded to them. Most of this new funding comes from the Department for Education. A further £50million was pledged by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the July 2015 budget for expanding cadet units in schools to 2020.

30/09/2015 ForcesWatch comment

Our reaction to today's Welsh Assembly debate on armed forces visits to schools in Wales, which represents a major step forward in the scrutiny of the ethics of the military's engagement with the education system.

23/09/2015 press release

The Welsh Government has been praised by ForcesWatch over a “groundbreaking” decision to support in principle more research into how the armed forces operate in secondary schools in Wales.


This briefing is a response to the 2012-13 Welsh Assembly Petitions Committee’s investigation into UK armed forces ‘recruitment’ in schools in Wales, following the petition Stop the Army Recruiting in Schools (P-04-432) submitted by the Fellowship of Reconciliation Wales. The Petition Committee’s final report on their consideration of the petition was published in June 2015.

This briefing supports the Petition Committee’s recommendations to the Welsh Government by presentingthe key evidence that armed forces visits to secondary schools in Wales:

  • are disproportionately high to schools in more disadvantaged areas;
  • do not present a balanced view of the armed forces;
  • and, are more numerous and more career-focused than visits by most other employers(particularly the emergency services).

This briefing also presents evidence that:

  • armed forces visits to schools are motivated by an agenda of engaging students in a long-termrecruitment process;
  • quality and transparency of armed forces record-keeping makes a full study of the extent of visitsto schools problematic.
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? 

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 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