Europe's biggest arms maker to run UK schools

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
e-mail icon

The British government has chosen Europe’s largest arms manufacturer as its preferred sponsor of an under-performing school in northwestern England, prompting criticism by anti-arms trade activists.

The UK-based BAE Systems, which made £15.4 billion in profits last year, is set to take over Furness Academy in Barrow, Cumbria, in September by setting up a trust to run the school under its submarine-building plant based in the town, SchooWeek journal reported Friday.

This is while Sam Robinson, university coordinator for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), described the decision as “deeply worrying.”

“The idea [BAE] could soon be playing a significant role in running one of our schools is deeply worrying,” added Robinson.

He further said, “It … gives them direct access to potential future employees and often allows them to influence the curriculum to suit their employment needs.”

According to the report, BAE previously tried to donate £400,000 to the academy in 2007, when the major corporation was under probe for corrupt dealings. The firm is responsible for the construction of nuclear submarines that are used in the nation’s controversial Trident program.

Robinson also pointed out that the move means the school would be governed on “profits from selling arms to some of the world’s most oppressive dictators.”

The company sells weapons to some Arab countries including the Persian Gulf kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

According to the report, however, Mallen Baker, a strategic adviser for corporate social responsibility, stated that it was quite normal for local firms to invest in local education and, despite BAE’s arms dealings, it is simply investing in the future of the town.

The report further adds that a number of Britain’s other university technical colleges (UTCs) have also partnered with military and arms corporations.

BAE is also listed as a partner at Humber UTC in Scunthorpe, where it will work to design and deliver projects for students.

The weapons maker is also one of the partner companies at Medway UTC in Chatham, Kent, specializing in construction and engineering.

According to the school’s website, BAE will support the design of its curriculum and will be involved in the school’s governance as well.



Geographic terms: