Scottish Parliament petition
More scrutiny, guidance & consultation on armed forces visits to Scottish schools
In 2016 ForcesWatch and Quakers in Scotland submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament that calls on the Scottish Government to ensure greater scrutiny, guidance, and consultation with parents/guardians on armed forces visits to schools in Scotland, in order to provide transparency and balance, and in recognition of the unique nature of armed forces careers. In 2018 the Public Petitions Committee made a number of recommendations in their report to the Scottish Government.
This is a child rights and welfare issue and is recognised as such by the UN and the Children and Young People's Commissioner for Scotland. Without clear oversight and guidance around armed forces visits to schools, the education system can be used to market an armed forces career without fully informing them young people of the risks, restrictions and realities of an armed forces career. In recognition of the UK as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Scottish Government as a leader on children's rights and welfare, a national approach providing consistent practice around armed forces visits to schools should be put in place.
- official petition page on the Scottish Parliament website
- the Public Petitions Committee's report on the petition (June 2018)
- our summary briefing (Dec 2016) with key points for making a submission
- for a quick summary, read our petition FAQs
- our new briefing on armed forces visits to schools in Scotland, 2016-17
6 Sept 2019 press release: Scottish Government ignores child rights concerns around armed forces activities in schools
In June and August 2019 we responded to the Scottish Government's letter (and also here) about what actions they will take to implement the recommendations made by the Public Petitions Committee. Our position is that their response is inadequate and they are not taking leadership on this aspect of children's rights, as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child makes direct reference to armed forces activities in schools.
4 June 2018: The Public Petitions Committee have published their report on the petition. They have called for a Child Rights and Welfare Impact Assessment and various other measures. See our press release and further analysis and media coverage.
Read our latest letter/submission to the Committee outlining our concerns with the evidence provided by the MoD and armed forces in November 2017
On 8 November 2017 the committee heard evidence from the MoD and armed forces. Read our summary of the hearing and the official report. We have produced a briefing with updated data on armed forces visits to schools in Scotland for 2016-17.
The Public Petitions Committee has received further evidence from parents, teachers, schools, child rights organisations, young peoples’ organisations, veterans and careers services and will be considering their submissions on Thursday 2 March 2017. Read the submissions and see our latest letter to the committee in response. A summary is also available.
On 24 November 2016, the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament discussed responses from organisations consulted about the petition, including a further submission from ForcesWatch and Quakers in Scotland. They decided to seek further evidence from parents, teachers, schools, child rights organisations, young peoples’ organisations, veterans and careers services and will accept submissions from those with these interests.
On 15 September 2016, the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament heard evidence from ForcesWatch and Quakers in Scotland about the petition. The Committee agreed to take the issue forward by writing for further information and views to various organisations.
November 2017: We have produced a new briefing with updated data on armed forces visits to schools in Scotland for 2016-17.
The briefings below provide sources and further detail regarding the points raised in the petition:
- Action taken to resolve issues of concern before submitting the petition
- Level and distribution of armed forces visits to schools
- The recruitment agenda behind the visits
- Students not always encountering a balance of opposing views during the visits
- A lack of transparency, and insufficient consultation, around the visits
- Wider military influence in schools in Scotland aside from armed forces visits
Public meetings on armed forces visits to schools in Scotland
ForcesWatch spoke alongside veterans and teachers at events to promote our petition to the Scottish Parliament on armed forces visits to schools, in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen in March 2016. Read a report of the events here.
Some comments from petition signatories
"As a retired teacher, I feel strongly about the way in which the Armed Forces exploit impressionable teenagers with their distorted version of what it will be like if they join up. I always opposed such school visits and fully support this campaign."
"I understand that local authorities are very short of cash for education, and may therefore welcome a military contribution to the school curriculum, especially the exciting outdoor activity which needs expensive equipment. This is an easy opportunity for military infiltration for the purpose of recruitment, implying a satisfying career but ignoring the moral considerations, the mental risks to immature brains, and the very real physical risks."
"Parents and guardians should not only be consulted in advance about these visits, but should also be invited to attend - and comment if they wish."
"I am very concerned that the MoD would appear to be targeting schools in deprived areas where there is little other employment and generally poor facilities, and offering the prospect of employment and training without necessarily informing young people of the risks involved and the constraints around leaving once they have 'signed up'. There should be employment and training opportunities which don't involve joining the armed forces."
"I do not feel it is appropriate to encourage young people at such a influential age to join the army before they have even experienced life."