The Welsh Independents’ Council is calling on the Minister of Education, Huw Lewis, to prohibit the use of an educational resource that promotes the role of the armed forces and British military history in schools in Wales. The Council, meeting at Gregynog, Powys, believed that the resource pack, which includes a foreword by Prime Minister David Cameron, contravenes the 1996 Education Act ( Section 406 ) – which prohibits political influence in schools. They feel that the resource, prepared by the Ministry of Defence for use by children as young as five years old, seeks to justify the existence of the armed forces and the arms industry, promotes recruitment to the armed forces and encourages holding military-themed activities in schools. They are also writing to the UK Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, drawing his attention to the resources’ inappropriate content for children, in the context of the Education Act.
The British Armed Forces Learning Resource was prepared by the MOD for use by children aged 5 -16 years. The preface, which promotes the role of the UK armed forces across the world, was written by the Prime Minister David Cameron. Much of the content has been compiled by present or past high-ranking offciers in the British armed forces.
“Military Ethos’ Golden Thread”
Defence Minister Michael Fallon sets the tone of the resource in his statement: “The military ethos is a golden thread that can be an example of what is best about our nation and helps it improve everything it touches.”
(Picture: Jeff Williams, Secretary of the Christian Citizenship Department, presents the matter at Council.)
Although not part of the curriculum, this resource is available to every school in Britain. The Council of the Union of Welsh Independents feels that it:
- presents political views as facts, and military intervention as an acceptable policy;
- is a poor educational resource, because the complexity of the subject is unsuitable for young children and a number of questions are loaded in order to lead children to a particular answer, without providing the material needed to study the subject properly;
- makes a case to justify the existence of the armed forces and arms industry, leaving no room for discussion about alternative ways of resolving conflicts. It glorifies war and praises “military values”;
- contains material that promotes recruitment to the armed forces and encourages military-themed activity in schools;
- presents the part played by Britain in previous wars in a one-sided and uncritical manner, ignoring the debate about the moral and legal basis of such wars.
It’s noted that this type of resource is found in countries with “less-than-democratic structures” where governments use the education system to create a non-critical public attitude towards the state. The 1996 Education Act (Section 406) prohibits political influence in schools. It seems that this resource is in breach of the Act.