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Schools: Armed Forces

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 2 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) if he will make a statement on his Department’s policy regarding visits by armed forces personnel to schools; (196603)

(2) what discussions his Department has had with the National Union of Teachers on the provision of materials on (a) the armed forces and (b) Iraq to schools; and what steps have been taken as a result of such discussions.

The Department received one letter from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in October 2007, drawing the attention of the Secretary of State to teaching materials which were being prepared by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). The letter sought reassurance that action would be taken to ensure that all materials issued by the MOD were compliant with sections 406 and 407 of the Education Act 1996. The Secretary of State responded that the Department does not endorse or promote specific teaching resources or methods, and that sections 406 and 407 of the Education Act 1996 place the duty on teachers to secure balanced treatment of political issues.

The Department is supportive of activities that help children and young people understand the role of the armed forces and we are in discussions with the Ministry of Defence as to how we might increase access to Cadet Forces and Army Cadet Forces for pupils in state schools. However, it is for head teachers to determine whether to invite armed forces personnel to visit their schools.