Scottish Parliament petition

More scrutiny, guidance & consultation on armed forces visits to Scottish schools 

In February 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.

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.

 


NEW

On 8 November 2017 the committee heared evidence from the MoD and armed forces. We have produced a briefing with updated data on armed forces visits to schools in Scotland for 2016-17. 


Progress

An evidence session with the Deputy First Minister was heard on 20 Aoril 2017.  See our reponse from May 2017 and committee decisions from 25 May.

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.

See our report and news coverage
Read the full transcript or watch the committee session
See our press release

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.

See our report and news coverage
Read the full transcript or watch the committee session
See our press release
.

 


Background information

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:

Also see:


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."

See all comments from the petition

Ask your MP to support raising the age of recruitment

Watch our film - Engage: the military and young people

Why does the military have a 'youth engagement' policy and why is the government promoting 'military ethos' within education? What is the impact of military activities taking place in schools? This short film explores these questions and gives teenagers the opportunity to voice their reaction to the military’s interest in their lives.

See film and more info. With Welsh subtitles

Our military out of schools campaign

The UK armed forces visit thousands of schools each year. They offer school presentation teams, youth teams, ‘careers advice’ and lessons plans. The Department for Education is promoting 'military ethos in schools'. Should the armed forces by given access to children within education? Should 'military values' be promoted in schools? How can we challenge these activities? How can a more balanced view of what life in the armed forces involves be given to young people? Read more about the Military Out Of Schools campaign