All items from ForcesWatch

25/05/2017

In early 2017, the Ministry of Defence, and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, praised the social mobility prospects offered by the military. They presented the military as a champion of social mobility for those who enlist in the lower ranks, and for recruits from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds with low educational attainment.

Michael Fallon was referring to figures that show that slightly under a third of officers across the forces progressed from lower ranks; he commended the Potential Officer Development Programme for demonstrating the military’s ‘commitment to social mobility.’

General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the General Staff, suggested that social mobility was central to the aims of the Army, stating that, ‘The Army is a modern, inclusive employer and I want every recruit to be given the opportunity to fulfil their potential. Second Lieutenant Cousland is a tremendous example of how schemes like this can give those who don’t have the best possible start in life a leg up, while helping us maximise the talent of everyone in the Army.’

The Ministry of Defence and Fallon then listed ‘a host of other successful education initiatives aimed at being a vehicle for social mobility’.

This briefing explores if these claims about social mobility stand up to scrutiny or whether enlisting in the armed forces can have a negative impact upon social mobility, particularly for very young recruits.

It concludes that:

Those who are truly concerned with social mobility must challenge the promotion of the military within education in particular and call for a rise in the minimum recruitment age to 18. Young people from all backgrounds much be given a greater range of opportunities and the myth that the armed forces will guarantee a rewarding and long-term career must not be allowed to prevail.

14/03/2017 ForcesWatch comment

The military and arms industries are putting large sums of money into our education system and into STEM educational material for schools. Science4Society Week is a chance to focus on learning from less destructive employers.

07/03/2017 ForcesWatch comment

Our petition lodged at Holyrood along with Quakers in Scotland on military visits to schools has taken a significant step forward.

24/02/2017 ForcesWatch comment

We report on the recent debate in Parliament arguing that the age of recruitment to the UK armed forces be raised.

21/02/2017

With the presence of the military in public spaces increasing and a high level of popularity for the armed forces, it is not always easy to respond to challenging questions that people pose in when faced with concerns expressed about militarism. Here we explore some responses to questions about how much the armed forces should be involved in our everyday lives, how they relate to young people, and the effectiveness and consequences of military action.

18/01/2017 ForcesWatch comment

Telling adolescents that they can resolve their need to belong by joining the Army is simplistic and one-sided. The reality is many aspects of army life are potentially harmful, especially to vulnerable individuals. The other side of the story needs to be told.

09/12/2016 ForcesWatch comment

A history teacher from Coventry got in touch with ForcesWatch to share her experience of teaching Remembrance to year nine classes this year after reading the resource Rethinking Remembrance in Schools: 'Teaching about Remembrance this year was a vastly different experience for me than previous years'.

30/11/2016 ForcesWatch comment

Members of the Scottish Parliament have agreed to seek further evidence on our joint petition – with Quakers in Scotland – calling for greater scrutiny and guidance around military visits to schools.

23/11/2016 press release

MSPs will consider what further action to take on a petition from ForcesWatch and Quakers in Scotland calling for increased transparency and scrutiny of armed forces visits to schools this Thursday (24 November).

12/11/2016 ForcesWatch comment

The Royal British Legion is asking the public to 'Rethink Remembrance'. Can we remember without obscuring the realities of war and overlaying this important act with militarism?

02/11/2016

This paper, published by ForcesWatch in 2016, explores ways in which teaching remembrance in schools can be used as a way of encouraging critical thinking about what and how we remember, and how this can be used to foster a culture of peace.

It discusses the importance of encouraging emotional engagement in the consequences of war and of avoiding euphemistic language that overly sanitises and simplifies its causes and consequences. The paper looks at educational opportunities in exploring the meaning of the white poppy as an alternative to the red poppy and alternatives to violent responses to conflict.

The paper includes some ideas for how to teach remembrance and provides links to education resources and background reading for use around remembrance and wider education for and about peace.

18/10/2016 ForcesWatch comment

This article was first published in the Morning Star.

The Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, recently announced that 25 out of 150 proposed new school cadet units would soon be opening. Despite the presentation of this development as new policy, the Cadet Expansion Programme promoting cadet forces in state schools, was first announced in 2012. While the Government heralds the cadets as a silver bullet in terms of improving pupil attainment and development, the sight of ranks of pupils as young as 12 in military gear and handling weapons will ring alarm bells for many. That this is happening within education raises additional concerns.

21/09/2016 ForcesWatch comment

Back in March we asked Holyrood to ensure ‘guidance is provided to schools', ‘information is collected to provide public monitoring’ and ‘parents/guardians are consulted’ when it comes to visits by the military. Last week we gave evidence to the Public Petitions Committee.

13/09/2016 press release

A petition calling for increased transparency and scrutiny of armed forces visits to schools in Scotland comes before Holyrood this Thursday 15 September.