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pupils against the military

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Secondary pupils in Scotland are mobilising against military recruitment in their schools and pupils from Glasgow joined with Edinburgh's School Students Against War to launch a campaign to stop the army targeting children as young as 14.

The move follows a call by the Educational Institute of Scotland, the largest teaching union in Scotland for a ban on army recruitment teams going into schools, and members urge local authorities to examine whether the armed forces are gaining inappropriate influence over youngsters through outdoor weekends, DVD packs and helicopter visits.

‘I thought school was the one place you could get away from the horror of the Iraq war, so I was shocked to go into the playground one day and see a helicopter and 20 army guys trying to recruit us’, said 14 year old Lorna McKinnon.

MSP Christine Grahame, a former teacher who has campaigned against army recruitment in schools, shares the EIS belief that pupils in deprived areas have been targeted. She discovered that Govan High School in Glasgow received 14 regimental visits in one year. Similar protests have been made in Wales where councillors have shown that the army makes far more visits to schools in deprived areas.

MoD spokesperson denied that disadvantaged areas were targeted but as army enrolment in Scotland and elsewhere is falling by a reported 3% a year such tactics would not be surprising

Last month the MoD launched a new online ‘teaching’ resource, Defence Dynamics, which includes 40 lesson plans for English, maths, science, geography and citizenship. Derek Twigg, parliamentary undersecretary for defence, told parliament £2.1 million a year was invested in recruitment teams, and the web resource would enable them to ‘reach many more children and at a significantly lower cost’.

He said: ‘Our main focus will be to provide teachers of 14 to 16-year-olds with pre-packaged electronic lesson plans with defence themes based on scenarios that reflect the professional work of the MoD and the armed forces.’

Mhairi Britton,16 said: ‘We watched the army recruiting DVD and I found it quite disturbing because of the slant on adventure and it all being a great thrill.’

Glasgow teacher Steven Dolan said: ‘Teachers have found recruitment has increased quite dramatically. The army seems to have unlimited funds for outdoor weekends and so on, but teachers don't have money for photocopying.’


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