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ForcesWatch & Quakers respond to the Armed Forces: ‘Learning Resource’

ForcesWatch_response_British_Armed_Forces_Learning_ResourceThis report explains why the British Armed Forces Learning Resource (published in September 2014 by the Prime Minister’s Office) is a poor quality educational resource, and exposes the resource as a politically-driven attempt to promote recruitment into the armed forces and “military values” in schools.

The document is framed as a History, English and Citizenship resource for children and teenagers from as young as 5 years old. Endorsed and promoted to all schools by the Department for Education, its stated aim is to ‘to educate children about the work of the UK armed forces’.

The critique includes responses from a number of educationalists worried about Government and the armed forces producing materials for schools inappropriate for use in education. Don Rowe, Citizenship Education consultant and former Director of Curriculum Resources at the Citizenship Foundation, stated that the Resource is ‘demonstrably biased’ and has called for its withdrawal. He says;

Culturally, this is the kind of resource one gets in countries with less-than-democratic structures where civic education is used by governments to manipulate citizens into an uncritical attitude towards the state. In the UK we used to have a system of education which was ‘at one remove’ from the government and one of the reasons for this was precisely to prevent the possibility of authoritarianism through control of the education system.

The critique also accuses the government of overblown rhetoric to promote the military in classrooms, glorifying “military values” and sanitising war. Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence, claims in the Resource that, ‘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.’

The report concludes that the educational and ethical concerns strongly indicate that:

The ‘British Armed Forces: Learning Resource 2014’ should not be used in schools as a learning resource, or should only be used in conjunction with alternative materials, and it should not be promoted as a learning resource by third parties.

Furthermore, we consider that the document amounts to political interference in children’s education. The Department of Education is failing in its legal duty, under the Education Act of 1996, to safeguard children from the promotion of partisan political views within schools and to offer a balanced presentation of opposing views; local authorities that promote the resource, and schools that use it as it stands without presenting alternative viewpoints, would be doing the same.

Key concerns:

  • The resource was initiated by the Office of the Prime Minister and has key sections written by government ministers including the Prime Minister. Other sections are written by current or former high-ranking military personnel. Its content is politically-driven, seeking to generate public acceptance of government policy and the use of military intervention, and it presents personal and political opinions as fact.
  • It is poorly conceived as a tool for learning. For example, the language it uses and the complexity of the subject matter make it unsuitable for many of those it is aimed at. Many of the questions that it asks are introduced in a leading way and the material that would be required to explore them fully is not provided.
  • The resource makes a one-sided case for the existence of the armed forces and the arms industry and provides no room for debate on alternatives to armed conflict. It presents a sanitised view of war and glorifies “military values”.The resource includes material that promotes recruitment to the armed forces and champions the government policy of promoting military-led activities in schools.
  • It presents a partial and uncritical history of British involvement in war, ignoring debate over the morality and legacy of such conflicts.

Download the report A critical response to ‘The British Armed Forces: Learning Resource 2014’

Read the press release: Government accused of military propaganda in the classroom

The British Armed Forces Learning Resource 2014 can be viewed in full here.

 

  • Admin 03/03/2015, 15:40

    This “Learning Resource” is nothing of the sort. It is an attempt to infect our kids with Militarism whilst pushing a dishonest representation of the “military ethos”.

  • kenny williams 03/03/2015, 20:40

    My youngest daughter had to do the propaganda posters, I was boiling when I saw it.
    My wife would not let me do a write up for her as I would have exposed the real agenda behind them and that would have had a negative effect on my daughters friends (peer pressure) can`t step out of the bubble and tell the truth.. got to believe what they tell you right?
    Look closely at schools now.. bio metrics, cctv everywhere, double security doors to get in, high fenced off sports fields with cctv towers. Google Soviet Subversion it`s all happening right now in the UK.
    Be cool or be cast out.

    PAL Kenny VFP UK

  • Willy Bach 04/03/2015, 03:12

    Dear friends

    This is excellent material, especially the video. I grew up in Britain, served in the British Army, later moved to Australia and spent three years in Costa Rica, which has no military, except that some of their police are trained by the notorious School of the Americas.

    Just taking the arguments in the video another step: a society that instills ‘military values’ in its schools also privileges the use of violence over the use of non-violence, patient negotiation and problem-solving. This society also prioritises the security of the state over human security. It is also a society that normalises the use of violence, including violence against women.

    In Australia, violence against women is a major discussion, the problem is severe. Yet the question of this country being constantly at war is also unable to discuss this problem honestly. We don’t even get to ask the question why this is so.

    I hope Costa Rica is looking on and making a conscious decision that nations like Britain, Australia, Canada, now New Zealand and the US have made a grave error in taking this path. As a Palestinian teacher said, “we teach life”.

    I weep with grief at what this country, Australia, has become. I should say the same about Britain. Let’s spread this far and wide.

  • Angela Kenny 04/03/2015, 18:35

    Using education for the circulation of this material is abuse! Schools have enough to deal with without additional material of this kind. More time should be given to the teaching of tolerance, understanding, empathy and helping our young people to become responsible citizens. The curriculum is already too huge and does not have space for brain washing material. What is the hidden agenda here I wonder? Give our young people more time to gain confidence in literacy, numeracy and life skills and leave out the lessons on killing.