ForcesWatch written evidence to the Education Committee’s inquiry on the Purpose and quality of education in England
‘Commonsense and Understanding’: Recommendations from the Defence Committee’s Duty of Care report that are still outstanding 10 years on
This report then discusses the concept of 'in loco parentis' and 'moral obligation' with regard to the army's duty of care towards young recruits, noting that the Defence Committee were concerned in 2005 that the MoD distinguished too rigidly between legal and moral obligations, with the latter as less important.
In 2005, the Defence Committee discussed the lack of balance beween training needs and considerations for operational effectiveness, and thus made its recommendations. Ten years on, it is apparent that operational arguments, and current difficulties meeting recruiting targets, continue to prevent the armed forces from reviewing both their position on enlisting under-18s, and their recruitment practices and materials.
Neither the armed forces, nor the MoD, nor schools, nor councils, automatically publish data on armed forces visits to schools in Scotland. The data has to be obtained by members of the public, and usually has to be reorganised substantially before it can be analysed. Poor record-keeping on the part of the armed forces and other bodies has added to this lack of transparency. In addition, there is insufficient consultation with parents and guardians as to whether they are content with their children/guardees taking part in armed forces activities, and there is evidence to suggest that schools do not always initiate the visits, contrary to the claims of the MoD and the armed forces.
School students in Scotland should encounter a balance of opposing views on the armed forces during their visits. However, a considerable body of evidence shows that this does not always happen.
Our research has revealed that there is considerable concern in Scotland among teachers, students, parents/guardians, and others regarding the nature of armed forces visits to schools. However, we have also found that various other important stakeholder organisations are unaware of the concerns about of the visits, or who is responsible for overseeing them. This indicates a real need for a thorough investigation into the situation.
Identifying existing concernResearch by ForcesWatch and Quakers in Scotland identified the following existing concern about armed forces visits to schools in Scotland: