Petitioner: Mairi Campbell-Jack and Douglas Beattie on behalf of Quaker in Scotland & Forces Watch
20 March 2016
Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to ensure that:
- Guidance is provided on how visits to schools by the armed forces should be conducted so that information presented to children takes account of the unique nature of armed forces careers, ensures political balance, and offers a realistic representation of the role of the armed forces and what a career in the armed forces involves.
- Information is collected to enable public monitoring of the number and location of visits, the purpose and content of visits, and comparison with the number of visits by other employers.
- Parents/guardians are consulted as to whether they are happy for their child to take part in armed forces activities at school.
15 September 2016: The Committee took evidence from Mairi Campbell-Jack, Parliamentary Engagement Office, Quakers in Scotland; Emma Sangster, Coordinator, Forces Watch; and Rhianna Louise, Education and Outreach Project Office, Forces Watch and agreed to write to the Scottish Government, local authorities, the Armed Forces Careers Office, Skills Development Scotland, the Association of Heads and Deputies in Scotland, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland and the Scottish Youth Parliament. Link to Official Report 15 September 2016
24 November 2016: The Committee agreed to write to organisations representing parents and teachers, schools, children's rights organisations, young people's organisations, veterans and careers bodies such as Skills Development Scotland. Link to Official Report 24 November 2016
2 March 2017: The Committee agreed to invite the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and COSLA to give evidence at a future meeting and to request a briefing from the Ministry of Defence. Link to Official Report 2 March 2017
20 April 2017: The Committee agreed to reflect on the evidence from the Deputy First Minister and to consider a note by the clerk at a future meeting. The Official Report will be available no later than 27 April 2017.
The available data shows that the armed forces make a high number of visits to schools in Scotland and that this is higher, per head of population, than for England. Some schools and some areas are visited a lot more than others.
* Are the armed forces making too many visits to secondary schools in Scotland?
* Recruitment is a key reason for the visits. Is the promotion of armed forces careers in schools acceptable?
* Parents and guardians are not always consulted in advance about the visits; should they be?
* There is evidence that the visits often give students a sanitised and glamourised view of the armed forces, rather than thoroughly exploring the unique risks, legal restrictions and ethical dilemmas. Should specific guidance be issued to local authorities and schools on how visits can be used to explore the armed forces in a balanced way?
* The Welsh Assembly Petitions Committee has investigated armed forces visits to schools in Wales, and made three recommendations to the Welsh Government to increase transparency and balance, all of which were accepted. Should Scotland now do the same?