Role of military in schools debated
A debate is being held in Bath this evening to discuss the role of the armed forces in schools.
The national organisation ForcesWatch, which challenges the ethics of military recruitment, is hosting the event at the Friends Meeting House, in York Street, from 6.30pm to 8pm.
Members will be joined by Bath-based anti-war campaigner Diana Francis, local teacher and ex-Royal Marine Martin Knight and others to discuss the role of the military in education.
They will be discussing the question "Does the military have a role to play in schools?" and exploring the way the armed forces engage with education.
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Bath head teacher Raymond Friel, who is in charge of both St Gregory's Catholic College and St Mark's CE School, said he was in favour of service personnel visiting schools to talk to pupils about the work they did.
He said: "I think it's perfectly valid for the military to be in schools to show students a career option which has many dimensions and skill sets.
"It's also useful for students in this day and age to understand the complexity of roles which the military are called upon to undertake in a democratic society."
According to ForcesWatch, the armed forces visit more than 4,000 schools across the UK each year, meaning they are in contact with almost a million students.
Their visits include providing free resources, presentations and what ForcesWatch regard as recruitment activities.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman denied that the forces visited schools to recruit young people, saying instead that the visits were for educational reasons.
He said: "The armed forces never visit schools for recruitment purposes and only attend by invitation from the school who welcome us in to support school activities that form part of the national curriculum.
"As an integral part of society and an important, highly valued public service, these visits have proven to be of great benefit to pupils, as demonstrated by the fact that the services attend several thousand schools each year."