Armed Forces visit state schools as many as 20 times in two years
FOUR out of five of Scotland’s state secondary schools had visits by the Armed Forces within a two year period, sparking claims they were related to recruitment.
Scotland’s largest teachers’ union said “disproportionate numbers of visits” to schools in areas of deprivation could raise concerns “over the motivation behind such a concerted PR drive”.
A report by pressure group Forces Watch and the EIS and based on figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force showed the military visited state secondary schools in Scotland an average of twice each year.
Visits were concentrated in the east of Scotland and the central belt. It said 31 schools in these areas were visited over 10 times during the period and six over 20 times.
The MoD said it would be “wrong and misleading” to claim the Armed Forces recruit in schools.
Earlier this year The Herald revealed how state school pupils in the most affluent areas are more likely to be visited by the armed forces than those in the poorest, new research has found.
The new report analyses the type of activities the Armed Forces provide in schools, with over one third of visits about promoting a career in the military.
Emma Sangster, from ForcesWatch, said: “It is clear from this research the Armed Forces put a significant amount of time and resources into visiting Scottish state secondary schools, and some schools receive many visits during the academic year.
“While the Ministry of Defence deny that the armed forces actually recruit in schools, we know from their own documents that these visits have a recruitment purpose, and at least one third of visits are explicitly about a career in the armed forces.
The group called on the Scottish Parliament to follow the lead of the Welsh Assembly and discuss the issue.
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The EIS respects that some young people may wish to consider a career in the armed forces and that the services can sometimes have a presence, along with other employers, at recruitment fairs and information days. However, the EIS believes that no employer, including the armed forces, should have unfettered or privileged access to schools for the purposes of recruitment.
An MoD spokesman said: “The Armed Forces never visit schools for recruitment purposes and only attend by invitation from the school in support of school activities that form part of the National Curriculum.
“We take pride in the fact that our Armed Forces provide challenging and constructive education, training, and employment opportunities for young people equipping them with valuable and transferable skills.”