THE Ministry of Defence should reveal details of school visits, MSPs say – and child wellbeing checks should be carried out before they take place.

The recommendations follow calls for greater transparency around army, navy and air force activities in the country’s schools.

A petition submitted by faith group Quakers in Scotland, which espouses pacifism, and ForcesWatch, which campaigns about military recruitment, demanded additional monitoring and consultation with parents about whether or not their children should take part in such visits.

It also called on the Scottish Government to ensure information delivered to pupils includes a “realistic representation” of life in the military.

Reporting today, Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee said action is needed. This includes a child rights and wellbeing assessment to ensure such visits to schools are “appropriate” and greater provision of data about these engagements.

According to the committee, the public should have information about the number and names of schools visited. This follows concerns that pupils in poorer areas are targeted more often than their wealthier counterparts.

The committee concluded it was “not possible to conclude” that such visits “constitute an explicit act of recruitment”. However, it determined that they could “form part of the recruitment journey for some young people who choose to join”.

Committee chair Johann Lamont said: “A career in the armed forces is a legitimate choice.

“It can, however, be very different from many of the career options that young people consider, which is why we believe that the Scottish Government should undertake a child rights and wellbeing impact assessment to make sure that the information being given to our young people is appropriate. It is also important that armed forces visits should reflect both the opportunities and the risks associated with a career in the armed forces.”

Responding, a spokeswoman for the army in Scotland said personnel visits are made when forces are “invited to do so by the head teacher” and “provide assistance across the curriculum, including sport, fitness and wellbeing, leadership, teamwork, delivering STEM projects and citizenship, not just careers presentations”.

She went on: “We do not recruit children in schools. We do explain, to older pupils, with the guidance of careers teachers, what a job in the army entails and how to apply, should we be invited to do so. This is in line with other major employers who are invited to speak to pupils.”

The Scottish Government said it will consider the committee’s recommendations and expects armed forces visits do not “seek to exert undue or inappropriate influence”.