This Guardian article refers to our report on Peace education and the promotion of the armed forces in UK schools, November 2015.
“Has anyone seen that before?” asks peace educator Jac Bastian as a big CND sign flashes up on the screen at the front of the hall.
“Hippies,” calls a year 12 student from a seat at the back.
“More hippies,” comes another voice, to laughter.
This is University College school (UCS) in north London, a boys’ independent school that takes girls in the sixth form, and Bastian, who works for the charitably funded education arm of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, is here to talk to year 12 about Hiroshima and Trident.
There is some muttering, and a few jokes about North Korea and Iran as well as hippies, but the students can name all the places where nuclear weapons have been tested, and someone even knows the most up-to-date figure for the number of nuclear warheads in the UK (215). A clip from Keiji Nakazawa’s animation Barefoot Gen, in which he remembers his childhood experience of the Hiroshima bomb, is received in respectful silence.
At the end Bastian announces a blind vote – where students raise their hands while covering their eyes – as to whether Trident should be replaced, and the room divides roughly evenly.… Read more