Figures reveal high number of visits by armed forces to Edinburgh schools

08/10/2012

ForcesWatch press release


Event: Questioning the presence of the military in schools, Thurdsay 11 October, St Augustine’s United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL, 7.30-9pm

Figures obtained under Freedom of Information reveal that the armed forces are visiting nearly all schools in the Edinburgh area and some schools have activities run by the military many times a year. (1)

Of the 23 state secondary schools in Edinburgh, 22 were visited by the armed forces an average of 7 times during a two year period. A further 11 independent schools and FE Colleges also had visits. Since September there have been a total of 225 visits to 33 schools and colleges (2). Balerno High School had the highest number of visits, with the armed forces recording having been at the school 22 times since September 2010. Some of the visits are for individual interviews, but the majority are for careers briefings, award evenings, curriculum support, presentations and team building events.

The figures have been obtained by ForcesWatch who are concerned about the level of military involvement in UK schools and colleges across the UK (3).

Event: Questioning the presence of the military in schools, Thurdsay 11 October, St Augustine’s United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL, 7.30-9pm

Figures obtained under Freedom of Information reveal that the armed forces are visiting nearly all schools in the Edinburgh area and some schools have activities run by the military many times a year. (1)

Of the 23 state secondary schools in Edinburgh, 22 were visited by the armed forces an average of 7 times during a two year period. A further 11 independent schools and FE Colleges also had visits. Since September there have been a total of 225 visits to 33 schools and colleges (2). Balerno High School had the highest number of visits, with the armed forces recording having been at the school 22 times since September 2010. Some of the visits are for individual interviews, but the majority are for careers briefings, award evenings, curriculum support, presentations and team building events.

The figures have been obtained by ForcesWatch who are concerned about the level of military involvement in UK schools and colleges across the UK (3).

ForcesWatch are hosting a public discussion on whether the military should have a presence in Edinburgh’s schools. On the 3rd October from 7.30-9pm in St Augustine’s United Church, they will be joined by academic and Green Party Councillor Maggie Chapman and teacher and Edinburgh in Scotland member, Annie MacRae to discuss the role of the military in education. The local Armed Forces Recruitment office has been invited to send a representative.

This event is linked to the Edinburgh World Justice Festival (4) and aims to encourage a healthy debate exploring whether the military agenda is compatible with that of the schools they visit.

The armed forces visit many thousands of schools each year across the UK providing free resources, presentations and recruitment activities (5). Recently, politicians and senior armed forces officers have called for even greater military engagement with young people in schools, and the Department of Education have established a number of schemes under their ‘military ethos and skills’ programme, presenting military intervention as a solution to education problems (6).

While the armed forces claim that they do not visit schools and colleges in order to recruit, their own reports identify recruitment of young people into the forces as one of three outcomes from such visits, along with raising awareness about the armed forces and social development (7).

Those concerned with education in Scotland have previously questioned whether it is appropriate for the armed forces to engage with young people in schools and colleges (8).

Contact:

If you would like to discuss the issues raised by this event, or would like to cover the event itself, please contact Will McCallum on 07790 117336 or email at education@forceswatch.net

For further information: http://www.forceswatch.net/content/public-debates-questioning-presence-military-schools

Notes:

1. Figures obtained from the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force from September 2010 to July/August 2012 are now available at: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com

2. ‘Military activities in schools: Edinburgh report’, ForcesWatch internal document. For a copy or for figures relating to Edinburgh’s schools please contact Will at education@forceswatch.net

3. ForcesWatch is a UK organisation that challenges the ethics of military recruitment and questions the climate of uncritical national pride in the armed forces. http://forceswatch.net

4. For information on the Edinburgh World Justice Festival see http://www.ewjf.org.uk/

5. Youth/schools engagement surveys conducted by the MoD suggest that, at a minimum, around 900,000 children (mainly 8-19 years old) are contacted each year, which is about 15% of the age group.

6. See the ForcesWatch briefing ‘Military activities in UK schools’ (Sept 2012): http://www.forceswatch.net/content/public-debates-questioning-presence-military-schools

7. Youth Engagement Review: Final Report, MoD, December 2011 http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/67B99648-8E16-454F-9DA2-FF9691B0D734/0/20120705_yer_final.pdf

8. In 2007 the EIS, Scotland’s largest teaching union, passed a conference resolution calling for a ban on armed forces recruitment activities in schools and colleges. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/6735831.stm