Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Teachers reject 'Army propaganda'

By Hannah Goff
BBC News, at the NUT Conference in Manchester

The MoD says it visits schools only when invited

Teachers have voted to oppose military recruitment activities in schools if they employ "misleading propaganda".

Young people must be given a true picture of Army life, not a "marketised version", the National Union of Teachers conference heard.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) denies actively recruiting in schools but says it does visit to raise awareness when invited in by head teachers.

Some teachers complain the Army uses sophisticated methods of recruitment.

Paul McGarr, a teacher from east London, said only when recruiting materials gave a true picture of war would he welcome them into his school.

'Shoot and possibly torture'

If secondary school pupils do not have a clear idea about the futility and horrors of war then teachers are failing
Henry, Bristol

These would have to say: "Join the Army and we will send you to carry out the imperialist occupation of other people's countries," Mr McGarr said.

"Join the Army and we will send you to bomb, shoot and possibly torture fellow human beings in other countries.

"Join the Army and we will send you probably poorly equipped into situations where people will try to shoot or kill you because you are occupying other people's countries.

"Join the Army, and if you survive and come home, possibly injured or mentally damaged, you and your family will be shabbily treated."

Delegate from Lambeth, south London, Chris Kelly, said he was offered free teaching materials, which he only later discovered were from the MoD.

"We must also ask ourselves why the MoD are in there influencing the way our students view the Army in the 21st Century.

"They find it difficult to recruit into the armed forces and are trying to encouraging them to join up," he said.


Executive member Martin Reed said young people should have the means to make an informed choice when deciding whether or not to sign up for an Army career.

He gave the example of school careers service Connexions which warned on its website that young people should not make this decision lightly.

It warned that war could be dangerous and that there were humanitarian casualties, he said.

Another teacher, Stefan Simms, from Ealing, west London, said those that were recruited would "come back knowing the horrors of war, maybe having committed the horrors of war."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: "We do not recruit in schools.

"The single-service schools teams visit about 1,000 schools a year between them only at the invitation of the school - with the aim of raising the general awareness of their armed forces in society, not to recruit."

But some teachers argue these visits have a wider purpose.


The NUT will now convene a summit of teachers, educationalists and others to consider the issue of military recruitment in schools.

Teachers who opposed recruitment activities based on "misleading propaganda" would be supported.

An ex-soldier, Terry, told BBC Radio Five Live that the union's attitude was patronising to 16-year-olds.

"Now 16-year-olds are not kids - they know, they know their mind," he said.

"If they are not sure what they want to do and they are just tinkering with the idea of just going in the Army - nowadays they can go in the Army, they go on a six-week camp and they find out what it's like.

"If its not for them, they have the choice to leave."

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