A teaching resource promoting the work of the armed forces has come under-fire by two campaign groups, which have labelled it “military propaganda”.
ForcesWatch and Quakers in Britain have issued a joint statement condemning the British Armed Forces Learning Resource, published last September by a number of government departments including the Department for Education (DfE) and the Prime Minister’s office.
The statement has been issued in advance of a report by the organisations into the resource, which both groups claim is a “politically-driven attempt to promote recruitment into the armed forces and ‘military values’ in schools”.
ForcesWatch and Quakers in Britain say their report includes responses from “a number of educationalists” worried about Government and the armed forces producing materials for schools.
Among them is Don Rowe, the former director of curriculum resources at the Citizenship Foundation, who said the resource was “demonstrably biased”.
He said: “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 resource pack includes a foreword by prime minister David Cameron, five chapters of information about the armed forces, and a series of suggested activities.
Tasks include deciding common values and debating different views on conscription.
However, one suggested activity is: “Devise a plan for how to go to war. Include how you will get there, what equipment and people you will need.”
Owen Everett from ForcesWatch, said: “We consider that the document amounts to political interference in children’s education and that the Department of Education is failing in its legal duty, under the 1996 Education Act to safeguard education from politicisation.”
A DfE spokesperson said: “Resources are regularly produced for teachers to help them come up with lesson plans that stimulate debate and discussion and many schools welcome these materials.
“It is then rightly for teachers to decide what is best for their pupils and what materials they wish to use during lessons.”