Questioning the military’s presence and influence in UK schools and colleges


Generation C

Did you know that the UK armed forces recruit 16-year-olds? Owen Everett from ForcesWatch explores the UK military’s wide influence in the education system and the concerns that arise from this.

The UK is the only country in the European Union that recruits 16-year-olds, and the influence of the UK military within UK schools, colleges, and universities is increasing. This article focuses upon the military’s influence in secondary schools and colleges, and challenges the ethics of the UK’s military recruitment.

The armed forces have been involved in schools for years through the cadets and armed forces visits1. The Government has recently also been promoting a ‘military ethos’ within schools through a Department for Education’s Programme2. The armed forces make around 11,000 visits to schools and colleges each year encountering approximately 900,000 students. State schools are visited more frequently than private ones, and the programme is aimed at schools in more deprived areas. Vulnerable social groups, including those from poorer backgrounds, are thus targeted.

Visits to schools include careers events and presentations, military?focused ‘development’ exercises such as team-building, leadership and interview techniques, interviews for pre?recruitment courses at armed forces bases, and sessions with staff. Students also visit military museums and military bases for work experience…

See more: cadets, military in schools/colleges, ForcesWatch, education, military ethos