news, info, resources

Recent news & articles

30/06/2015 Child Soldiers International '[The] response from the Department for Education to a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act shows that the armed forces are exempt from legislation governing the continuing participation of young people in education. From 2015, the Education and Skills Act commits civilians aged 16 and 17 in full-time employment to study for 280 Guided Learning Hours per year towards accredited qualifications. The effect of the armed forces’ exemption is that they are not bound by any legal minimum standard, so are not required to offer young soldiers the same standard of education that is required in civilian life.'
30/06/2015 The Independent 'The UK is one of only 19 countries in the world that still recruits 16-year-olds into its armed forces. The others include North Korea and Iran. What's more, British teenagers – otherwise deemed too young to drive a car, drink alcohol or marry – are twice as likely to be killed as personnel recruited over the age of 18. Mental illness is also more prevalent in these recruits, with a suicide rate 82 per cent higher than civilians of the same age. ...Numerous organisations including Amnesty International, the National Union of Teachers, and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, have challenged the Government’s policy of recruiting what many regard as child soldiers. But despite this, the Government is actually trying to increase the military’s influence within schools.'
30/06/2015 The Telegraph '[The] Duke of York’s Royal Military School, located a few miles from the White Cliffs of Dover, is two centuries-old boarding house that prides itself on teaching children “military traditions”. A breeding ground for generations of British military leaders, the school was run by the Ministry of Defence until 2010 and boasts His Royal Highness, The Duke of Kent, as its patron. When Mrs Halford-Hall and her husband Michael, chairman of the Wells Conservative Association, decided to send their 11-year-old son there they hoped it would teach him military values. What they discovered – according to allegations which the school vehemently denies – was a system of punishment and bullying that went beyond the boundaries of decency and the law.'
30/06/2015 Citizenship Foundation In a new film from the Quakers, comedian Mark Thomas and former MP Clare Short claim the Government is misusing the education system to encourage support for its wars and to promote careers in the armed forces.
30/06/2015 Vice 'Daniel Campbell wakes up drenched in sweat. Every muscle in his body is tense. The dead child, the one he couldn't save, is back. He creeps to the bathroom. The child is waiting for him. Its bloodied face stares at him accusingly from inside the mirror. He splashes cold water on his forehead and returns wearily to bed. Daniel Campbell was a child soldier in the British Army. "I wanted to see the world and I wanted to help people," he says, remembering the day he stepped, aged 16, into Portsmouth's recruitment centre. And see the world he did: left with severe PTSD after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army abandoned him as if he were a broken toy. The basic brutality that underpins the work of the British Armed Forces is not something that recruiters tend to dwell on when pitching to kids. So a group of former soldiers, Veterans For Peace UK, have taken it upon themselves to highlight the harsh realities of life and death in, and after, the army.'
21/06/2015 The Guardian Former professionals condemn recruitment of teenagers by ‘pushing the notion of a noble military career to children’.

latest resources

2015

This 2-sided ForcesWatch briefing (updated 2015):

  • outlines the extent and nature of armed forces visits to schools
  • details the Department for Education's 'Military ethos in schools' policy.
  • outlines the concerns about these activities 
  • suggests what students, parents and others can do to challenge them.
May 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.

Read more >>
updated April 2015

"The army careers advisers who operate in schools are skilled salesmen." Head of Army recruitment strategy, quoted in New Statesman, 2007

The armed forces have a growing involvement in secondary schools, colleges and even primary schools. While the Army, Navy and RAF have long run activities in schools as part of the Ministry of Defence's Youth Engagement programme, the Department for Education have recently begun to promote a 'military ethos' within education.

This A4 leaflet (updated 2015) outlines the issue and what the concerns are.

March 2015
March 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.

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March 2015

In advance of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child's consideration of how the UK complies with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (during autumn 2015), the UK Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights has published a short report outlining areas of concern.

On children in armed conflict (the UK is a signatory to the Convention's Optional Protocal on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict), the report states:

Again, WE HOPE THAT OUR SUCCESSOR COMMITTEE WILL HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO SCRUTINISE THE ISSUE OF CHILDREN SERVING IN THE ARMED FORCES IN THE LIGHT OF THE UN COMMITTEE'S CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS WHICH WILL BE DELIVERED IN 2016.

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2014

This educational resource investigates the diverse experiences of Australian school communities during the Great War. Each investigation uses primary and secondary sources to look at what students were learning about the British Empire, its Allies and enemies, the consequences on daily life at school, the values taught, the patriotic activities undertaken, the reasons why some students and teachers enlisted and responses to the loss or wounding of people from school communities.

Each investigation has ‘tuning in’ and ‘going further’ learning activities. Additional sources on the CD-ROM are also provided. 

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December 2014

The report, compiled by ForcesWatch, is based on figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the armed forces on their visits to Scottish schools. 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.

The report discusses the aims of the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces’ ‘youth engagement’ programme and concludes that: “Despite assurances by the Ministry of Defence and the three armed services that the armed forces do not recruit in schools, it is evident that many of the activities provided by members of the armed forces in schools are recruitment-related and the recruitment potential of visits is a key purpose of many, if not most, of their visits to schools.” 

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