After ‘cannon fodder’ outcry … Holyrood urged to investigate military visits to schools

MSPs are being urged to hold an inquiry into the presence of the armed forces in Scotland’s schools after an outcry over plans to set up cadet units aimed at the poorest pupils.

Peace campaigners will this week lodge a public petition at Holyrood calling for a probe into the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force visiting schools with an eye to recruitment.

The move follows a Sunday Herald front page report last weekend in which Tory plans to create military cadet units in state schools in Scotland’s most deprived areas were attacked by a senior SNP source as an attempt to recruit vulnerable children as British Army ‘cannon fodder’.

Research suggests Scottish schools receive a disproportionately high level of military visits compared to other parts of the UK, yet only a third are overtly about careers, with the rest ostensibly related to education, team building and physical fitness.

The petitioners – the ForcesWatch group, which monitors military recruitment; and Quakers in Scotland – fear creeping militarism in schools is promoting the forces to children who have little understanding of the potential risks and consequences of signing up.

The Welsh Assembly last year held a similar inquiry in response to a petition calling for an outright ban of armed forces visits to schools.

Read more

Holyrood should protect Scottish schools from creep of cadets

ForcesWatch is calling on the Scottish government to resist attempts to introduce Cadet units into the country’s state secondary schools.

Cadets traditionally play no part in Scottish state schools but the Westminster government is planning to spend £50m on a Cadet Expansion Programme (CEP) to increase the number of units in the UK from 355 to 500 by the end of the decade – with ‘less affluent’ areas being prioritised.

Despite education being a devolved matter the Ministry of Defence has formally asked the Scottish government for help making up the numbers of school based cadets forces (1).

Scotland’s biggest teaching union, the EIS, has opposed the move, saying there would be a “fair degree of concern among the teaching profession.”

ForcesWatch coordinator, Emma Sangster said:

“Cadet forces in schools are being presented as an opportunity to gain ‘key life skills’ but this masks the well-documented fact that the military regards them as an important tool for recruiting into the armed forces (2).

“It’s interesting to note that it was Julian Brazier – the Minister responsible for military recruitment – who made the approach to Holyrood.

“Joining the military is not something to do lightly and schools should not be involved in, nor influence, young people in making such a life-changing decision.Read more