children taking part in an RAF Youth & Stem Programme event in Scotland

Military Denies Targeting Schools In Deprived Areas Of Scotland For Recruitment

children taking part in an RAF Youth & Stem Programme event in Scotland

Senior members of the armed forces have said they do not target schools in deprived areas of Scotland for recruitment.

Speaking to MSPs, they denied the recruitment approach after claims that one school in Scotland was visited 31 times between 2010 and 2012.

A senior Army member stated that since 2014, the school visit approach had “matured”.

Officers from all branches of the forces gave evidence regarding the approach to schools at Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee.

The committee comes after Quakers in Scotland and Forces Watch raised concerns that pupils from poorer areas were being singled out in the visits.

Brigadier Paul Buttery, the Ministry of Defence's Head of Training, Education, Skills, Recruiting and Resettlement, said the forces only visit schools when invited by the head teacher.

He also confirmed that no student can make a commitment to sign-up during the visits.

Last year 22 schools in Scotland were attended by the Army, Navy and RAF

The committee heard how pupils between 14 and 16-years-old can be given a brochure on forces activity, while 16-18-year-olds can register interest but must first attend a careers office to apply.

The range of activities included in a standard school visit ranges from workshops, interviews and personal development training.

The committee was also told how engaging lessons like designing ration packs as well as science, engineering and technology are delivered to students.

SNP MSP Rona Mackay voiced concerns about the:

"Potential targeting of schools in areas of high economic deprivation."

She said figures from 2010 to 2012 showed all army visits were made to state schools, with one school visited an "extraordinary" 31 times.

Brigadier Buttery replied there was:

“No way that an armed forces team would be entertained turning up to the school that many times if it hadn't been by invitation."

He added that since 2014, the way in which school recruitment drives are run is quite different:

“I know now there is no targeting of schools, based on gender, on social background or on the relative level of deprivation in any surrounding area."

However, the Brigadier refused to comment on whether pre-2014 a more aggressive targeting approach was employed.

Brigadier Buttery went on to explain during the meeting that there were just over 1,000 school visits in 2016.

The Army attended 70 schools three times or more, while the Navy attended 14 and the RAF just 12.

Overall, 98 schools were visited twice by two different services. 22 were attended by the Army, Navy and the RAF.

Cover image: MoD