news, info, resources

Recent news & articles

11/06/2016 Schools Week The impact of a £50 million grant to boost school cadet forces cannot be scrutinised because the government will not release details – although there are few signs of the 100 units a year needed to meet the ambitious target and new figures show a decline in number of school cadets. ForcesWatch are quoted: “This huge amount of money could have been allocated towards educational resources that do not have a military framework and would have far wider appeal.”
02/06/2016 ForcesWatch press release With the new inquest verdict into the death of Cheryl James at Deepcut, ForcesWatch is calling on Ministers to implement important recommendations for young recruits made in 2005.
26/05/2016 Child Soldiers International Figures show that more 16 year olds were recruited in the last year than 17 year olds as the government admits that is intends to increase the number of children it recruits into the armed forces.
23/05/2016 Child Soldiers International An open letter to the Ministry of Defence from national children’s organisations and rights groups calls on them to stop recruiting 16 and 17 year olds into the armed forces. The letter has been made public on the same day that the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child begins its periodic examination of the UK’s record on child rights. In 2008, the UN urged the UK to raise the enlistment age to 18.
30/03/2016 Chatham House The army's venerable tradition no longer makes financial sense.
30/03/2016 Independent, various

latest resources

May 2016


Rethinking Security: a discussion paper

How do we best build long-term security for people in the UK and worldwide?

  • Across the world, insecurity is growing, affecting everyone, especially the world's poorest but also people in rich countries like the UK.
  • Responses to insecurity, centred on offensive military power and restrictions on civil liberties, are proving ineffective and generating greater insecurity.
  • The greatest threats to our security - climate change, inequality, scarcity, militarism, and violent conflict - are not being addressed.
  • Security is often described as a national duty, but is better seen as a common right. It cannot be gained in one place at the expense of another, nor is it built on dominance, but on the health of our societies. Principles such as these could help to shape better responses to insecurity now, including immediate risks, while also helping to develop the conditions of lasting security over the long-term.
  • But the conversation about 'security' is too narrow: it is dominated by a small and exclusive group, supported by business interests that benefit from the status quo. Building a safer world needs a new approach - and it needs all of us.

Download the report

Go the the Rethinking Security website

March 2016

Published by Child Soldiers International, this short and accessible booklet addresses questions often raised about under-18s in the armed forces, presenting the facts - based on extensive research - rather than the fiction. Also contains very useful quotes and statistics. Great when talking to your MP or for those thinking of enlisting!

Despite this widespread unease about the policy of recruiting 16 and 17 years olds into the armed forces, a number of common misconceptions still lead many under-18s to leave their education early and enlist. This booklet examines these ‘myths’ in light of the evidence available.

‘The fact that the British armed forces continue to recruit from the age of 16 sets a poor example internationally and impedes global efforts to end the use of child soldiers. The Army surely does not need to make youngsters sign up formally at such a young age – there have to be other, better ways to meet our requirements whilst respecting our human rights obligations.’

Major General (retd) Tim Cross CBE

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February 2016
  • ForcesWatch welcomes the Education Committee’s inquiry. We strongly believe that a key purpose of education in England should be to equip students with the ability to think critically. This will help students make informed decisions about issues and institutions which is both a crucial life skill, and will aid them to contribute to the improvement of our democracy and our society.
  • Currently, the UK military has significant, and growing, influence in the UK education system which raises a number of concerns around critical thinking about the military, armed forces careers, and issues of peace and conflict resolution. These pro-military messages are not balanced by the inclusion of a structured framework for peace education within the curriculum, and the UK government is failing to implement recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child as a result.
  • We outline a range of general educational and more detailed concerns and questions that need to be addressed in the wake of the growing influence of the military in education.
  • We make a number of recommendations for ensuring wider public debate and consultation around these developments and increasing the monitoring and oversight of military involvement in schools.
Read more >>
revised 2016

Teach Peace, a new resource from the Peace Education Network, is a set of eight assemblies, follow-up activities, resources, prayers and reflections on peace for primary schools.

From the UN peace day, 21 September, to the International Day for Children as Victims of War, 4 June, the school year is filled with opportunities to use the assemblies and activities in Teach Peace. This resource will help to ensure peace is a key theme in our children’s education and help you to celebrate peace and the peacemakers in your school.

The entire resource is free to download below. Hard copies of Teach Peace are available from the Peace Education Network for £5.

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December 2015

This report highlights seven recommendations from the Defence Committee’s report Duty of Care: Third Report of Session 2004-05 which have not been partially or fully implemented, and around which substantial concerns remain.

This report goes on to present additional evidence and arguments about the experience of the youngest recruits including lower educationlal standards within the armed forces; evidence that the youngest recruits are subject to higher physical and mental health risks, than older recruits, and have poorer long-term outcomes; and, understanding that adolescence is a period of on-going maturation and vulnerability.

This report then discusses the concept of 'in loco parentis' and 'moral obligation' with regard to the army's duty of care towards young recruits, noting that the Defence Committee were concerned in 2005 that the MoD distinguished too rigidly between legal and moral obligations, with the latter as less important. 

In 2005, the Defence Committee discussed the lack of balance beween training needs and considerations for operational effectiveness, and thus made its recommendations. Ten years on, it is apparent that operational arguments, and current difficulties meeting recruiting targets, continue to prevent the armed forces from reviewing both their position on enlisting under-18s, and their recruitment practices and materials.

Raising the age of recruitment would prioritise the best interest of young people recruited in the armed forces, who would benefit from recruits who are more mature and do not need additional duty of care requirments. 

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November 2015

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.
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November 2015

A Remembrance Day assembly for use in schools from the Peace Education Network. The resource also comes as part of the Teach Peace education pack.

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August 2015

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.
Read more >>