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We have raised these issues and our concerns with Scottish education authorities at government and local level, and with other education bodies and various MSPs. The responses from the Scottish Government and local authorities show there is a lack of clarity regarding the nature of armed forces visits to schools, and who is responsible for overseeing them, which makes it impossible for our concerns to be addressed.

Education Scotland told us that there was no government policy or guidelines regarding armed forces visits to schools, as this is for local authorities to decide. They also told us that they "provide support for teachers, and identify and share good practice…it is up to the school, working with its local authority, to decide how political discussions will take place with learners. Our political literacy resource considers the sensitive handling of controversial issues." However, our research has found that this provision for balanced discussion is inadequate.

We made Freedom of Information requests to all 32 local authorities, asking for information on their stance on armed forces visits to their schools, on how they ensure students encounter a balance of views during the visits, and on whether parents/guardians are always consulted on whether they are happy for their child to take part in the visit. 27 local authorities responded, 26 acknowledging that the armed forces visited schools in their area. None had a specific policy on the visits; many said it was down to schools or headteachers to develop their own. Several local authorities stated or implied that the visits had no recruitment or political element. Few provided any detail on how their schools ensured that students encounter a balance of views. Only Glasgow City claims to issue its schools with guidance, and this guidance is in fact very generic, simply stating "The public expects all employees to carry out their duties in a politically neutral way." Given that our research clearly demonstrates the recruitment agenda behind the visits, the political nature of some of the engagement, and that students are not always encountering a balance of views on the armed forces, this vagueness and inconsistency of practice is unacceptable. Around a third of the local authorities either do not consult parents/guardians about the visits, or leave this to headteachers' discretion, whereas given the concerns that the visits raise, parents/guardians must always be consulted.

Our correspondence with MSPs from a variety of parties, and with the Educational Institute of Scotland, the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, and the National Union of Students Scotland, revealed substantial concern on the issues. One MSP, and the first two bodies, have publically stated their concerns, but the Scottish Government and local authorities have not acted on them.

Lastly, individual Quakers in Scotland sympathetic to our petition have written to various local authorities and schools to raise our concerns, with mixed responses.

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