Petition on military visits to Scottish schools to be heard at Holyrood

Date: 20th September 2016
Category: Armed conflict

A petition is calling for more transparency and oversight of visits made by the armed forces to secondary state schools after concerns were highlighted over the unmonitored nature and frequency of the visits, with fears that they are being used as a recruitment tool.

The groups ForcesWatch and Quakers in Scotland were responding to data obtained showing that the military in Scotland make a disproportionately high number of visits to Scottish schools and colleges, compared to England.

Both groups have urged the Scottish Government to investigate how the armed forces operate in secondary schools, after data from 2014 showed that four fifths of state secondary schools were visited by the armed forces over a two-year period.

ForcesWatch conducted a report which also showed that some areas in Scotland had every school in its vicinity visited, additionally other schools were visited by the military as many as 20 times or more over two-year period between 2014 and 2016.

According to the pressure group one third of all visits to schools in Scotland were "explicitly about careers in the armed forces".

In the report it found that visits to Scottish schools represented 11.2 per cent of the total UK visits despite, its population being only 8.4 per cent of the entire UK total.

Across Scotland 42 per cent of visits to state secondary schools were made by the British Army, 31 per cent by the Royal Navy and 27 per cent by the Royal Air Force.

The petition is set to call on the Scottish Parliament education and culture committee to hold an inquiry into the visits by military personnel but they also demand that local and national authorities give guidance for schools on how visits by the armed forces should be conducted.

Additionally, they want the Scottish Government to ensue political balance is maintained in the visits and when careers are expressed to pupils.

Finally, ForcesWatch demand that close monitoring of the number and location of visits to areas with high deprivation indicators is ensured to investigate whether any abuses and manipulation is occurring with Scotland's poorest communities and military recruitment.