A child rights and wellbeing assessment is needed to ensure that armed forces visits to schools are appropriate. This is the outcome of a report issued today by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee.
The report follows the Committee’s consideration of a petition (PE1603) from Quakers in Scotland and ForcesWatch which called for greater guidance, scrutiny and consultation in relation to visits made to schools by the armed forces.
The Committee has now called for the Scottish Government to undertake an assessment to make sure that the content of any such visits is suitable. This assessment should be applied across the country.
Committee Convener, Johann Lamont MSP said:
“There are clearly strong feelings on all sides of the argument about the role of the armed forces in Scotland’s schools and we have listened carefully to all the views we received, and of those we heard from, including the armed forces.
“A career in the armed forces is a legitimate choice. It can, however, be very different from many of the career options that young people consider, which is why we believe that the Scottish Government should undertake a Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment to make sure that the information being given to our young people is appropriate.
“It is also important that armed forces visits should reflect both the opportunities and the risks associated with a career in the armed forces.”
The Committee’s report also notes that there is a lack of data about the number and names of schools being visited by the armed forces. It recommends that this should be made more accessible to the public in order that credible and consistent data is available for analysis.
Angus MacDonald MSP, Deputy Convener of the Committee said:
“The decision to invite armed forces is rightly a decision for the schools themselves. However, there is clearly wide interest about which schools are being visited and indeed how often. That is why our Committee is calling on the Scottish Government to liaise with the Ministry of Defence to publish information about armed forces visits to schools on an on going basis.”
A copy of the Committee’s report can be found here.
Petition P1603 calls for 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.
During the Committee’s consideration of the Committee heard evidence from the petitioners, the Ministry of Defence, the armed forces as well as the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills.
More information about the Committee’s consideration of the petition can be found here.