Bid to ban military from making school visits in the capital
COUNCILLORS are considering a ban on allowing the armed forces to speak in schools and colleges.
The idea has won backing among some Edinburgh city councillors after being raised by Maggie Chapman, a Green councillor and university lecturer.
She wants to put a stop to the "aggressive recruiting" of "impressionable" teenagers. Her call comes after a similar proposal was passed by the Educational Institute of Scotland, Scotland's largest teachers' union.
Yesterday the MoD and supporters of the military described as absurd the motion she plans to put to the council.
Ms Chapman, who represents Leith Walk in the city, said: "We oppose aggressively recruiting children who are perhaps at quite a vulnerable stage in their lives.
"It's not appropriate to go into schools and colleges and tell children that it's a great career and a great opportunity to see the world, especially if there's not a lot of information available about what it's like to work in somewhere like Iraq.
"Our concern is that armed forces' recruitment may be targeting schools in more deprived areas where children, arguably, are not going to have as many career options available."
The army says it does not recruit in schools - youngsters must be 17 to join up, and 18 to take a tour of duty - but does visit schools and colleges to give information.
Major Iain Dalzel Job, president of the Edinburgh Scots Guards Association Club at Haymarket, accused the Greens of trying to cut young people's career options.
"We don't actually recruit - we go in and tell the boys and girls what the army could do for them and what they could do for the army," he said.
"We are pretty clear about what we do and what warfare is about. These people don't believe in what the army is trying to do." David McLetchie, Edinburgh Pentlands MSP and former Scottish Tory leader, called the motion "absurd".
He said: "A career in the armed forces is a perfectly honourable profession for a young person to follow."
An MoD spokeswoman said: "The police, construction, oil industry, even the NHS and bus driving can be potentially hazardous. Are they all going to get banned from talking to schools?"
Ms Chapman claims she has support among some Labour and Lib Dem members, as well as her Green colleagues, ahead of a debate to be held next Thursday. But senior councillors from the SNP, Lib Dems and Tories have all indicated they would oppose the move.
Councillor Andrew Burns, the Labour education spokesman, said: "I am aware that such a motion to prevent armed forces recruitment campaigns in schools received the overwhelming support of the EIS and I am willing to positively consider whether such a ban can be supported locally."
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