PE01603: Ensuring greater scrutiny, guidance and consultation on armed forces visits to schools in Scotland


Petitioner: Mairi Campbell-Jack and Douglas Beattie on behalf of Quaker in Scotland & Forces Watch


Date Lodged: 20 March 2016

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to ensure that:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Parents/guardians are consulted as to whether they are happy for their child to take part in armed forces activities at school.

Petition History:

The Committee published its report on 4 June 2018       

2nd Report, 2018 (Session 5) Report on Petition PE1603: Ensuring greater scrutiny, guidance and consultation no armed forces visits to schools in Scotland (1,129KB pdf)

The Scottish Government responded to the Committee's report on 21 June 2018:

Scottish Government response of 21 June 2018 (108KB pdf)


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. Link to the Official Report

25 May 2017: The Committee agreed to write to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport. Link to Official Report 25 May 2017

9 November 2017: The Committee agreed to invite the petitioner to respond to the evidence heard, and to consider the petition further at a future meeting. Link to Official Report 09 November 2017

15 March 2018: The Committee agreed to publish a report on the Committee’s consideration of the petition. Link to the Official Report 15 March 2018

24 May 2018: The Committee considered and agreed a draft report on petition PE1603 on ensuring greater scrutiny, guidance and consultation on armed forces visits to schools in Scotland. Link to Official Report 24 May 2018

8 November 2018: The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government and to defer further consideration of the petition to a future date. Link to the Official Report 8 November 2018

5 September 2019: The Committee agreed to close the petition under Standing Order Rule 15.7 on the basis that an important piece of work has been undertaken to highlight the issues raised in the petition. The Committee also agreed to write to the Scottish Government. Official Report of Meeting 5 September 2019

Written Submissions

Additional Information

At the meeting on 20 April 2017, the Deputy First Minister undertook to write to the Ministry of Defence in relation to data on armed forces visits to schools in Scotland. The following information has been provided to the Committee by the Scottish Government following that undertaking.

    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?

    I work at a school which has decided to include the cadets as a curriculum 'choice'. I query where the choice lies, when educationalists are encouraged to embark on recruiting child soldiers, as there is funding available for such ventures, targeting youngsters from a deprived background, who feel they have no choice.

    Genevieve Orr

    20:00 on 20 Mar 2016

    There is no place for the military in our schools, most kids are not fully aware of what war actually means are are far to young and easily influenced the glossy propaganda of the recruiting personnel. The smooth talk of training, travel and adventure never includes dead or maimed bodies, trauma or the suicides of ex-military. If they want to talk to people, they should be obliged to tell the full story, with facts and figures of deaths, injuries, backed up with graphic photos of what war is all about. They should not be allowed to peddle their sanitised version to drag the un-informed of our children into their nightmare of violence and death.

    John Couzin

    16:36 on 19 Mar 2016

    I agree that the Armed forces, especially because of the hypocritical situation involving Syria, the situation in Iraq and other middle eastern countries, should not be asked to come to school in an attempt to glorify camaraderie when it is just following orders even though the orders may be morally wrong! In a society where we preach that violence is wrong but yet our government still favour war, its hypocrisy at the highest level!

    Alex Thomson

    13:04 on 18 Mar 2016

    In a democracy, our Armed Forces are crucial but the joining of the organisation must be accompanied with real facts and not the glamorous and silky PR festivals that happen just now.

    Paul Cochrane

    16:40 on 17 Mar 2016

    @ Jennifer Broadhurst - thanks for your comment and letting us know about the error you're getting when trying to sign the petition. We've asked our IT team to look into this for us. Please accept our apologies for this, we'd be happy to add your name to the petition for you. If anyone would like their names added then please email us via [email protected].


    10:47 on 15 Mar 2016

    Allowing army recruitment officers into our schools is effectively abuse. Children in poorer communities are most vulnerable and in the current economic climate where work and training are limited it's easy to convince a child that they will access these rights via the armed forces. Children are not told by recruitment officers from MOD that they will be exposed to hate and horror and imperial wars. It us not explained that in return for the training , food, wage etc that they will be expected to become involved in the slaughtered of other children. They are not told about the cuts in MOD funding which leave front line vulnerable to injury and death. Instead children are promised a future that should already exist outside military service. Teach our children peace, diplomacy, understanding and care.

    Rosie Kane

    10:18 on 15 Mar 2016

    Army recruitment operating in places where children seek support and education is unethical. Masked within the promises of "training" " travel" "driving license" etc are the facts that children are being selected and groomed to kill. Children from working class areas are most vulnerable in the current economic climate. The lack of work and training housing and a decent future leaves many feeling that the forces are the way out of hopelessness and the MOD know this. The promise of food, bed , training and wage should be guarenteed without putting weapons in children's hands and hate in their minds. Please protect our children and let them learn about peace as opposed to bring conscripted into illegal wars.

    Rosie Kane

    9:39 on 15 Mar 2016

    unable to sign petition due to a server error please fix

    jennifer broadhurst

    9:26 on 15 Mar 2016

    I support this petition 100%, on the basis that the provision of one-sided information to the young people in our country is irresponsible. There will be those, swayed into making a career in the forces and finding a very different reality to what they were led to believe. Those people, not a few in number, will be bitter, they will feel let down by those who should protect young people from unfair presentations, etc. We can do better, and please God, we will do better. In love and peace, Patrick

    Patrick Bealey

    17:36 on 14 Mar 2016

    Children attend school, not only to learn, but because they are legally obliged to be there. They have no choice in what they are exposed to, they are a captive audience. Children deserve better than to have their time when they should be learning about the world, co-opted by recruitment officers looking for fresh young meat for wars these children have had no say in starting. It feels tantamount to grooming.

    Roxanne O'Neill

    14:11 on 13 Mar 2016

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