A FORMER SAS soldier will be among guests taking part in a debate on visits by the armed forces to schools.

Ben Griffin – who quit the army in 2005 in protest at US troop tactics – will argue against visits to county pupils on Tuesday.

He will be joined at the Friends Meeting House in St Giles by Oxford City Council ’s John Tanner and former East Oxford headteacher John Prangley.

It has been organised by campaign group ForcesWatch, which has obtained figures showing there have been 170 visits by the armed forces to 44 county schools since 2011.

Organiser Will McCallum, who is from the city, said: “It is about raising the debate. At the moment there is no debate about how the military engages with schools. It just happens as a default. I don’t think the agenda of the military and the education agenda are compatible.

“Whatever is said about it being for the benefit of the school and education, the reason is because it wants to recruit soldiers.”

Labour councillor Mr Tanner said he did not oppose the services visiting schools but said: “The message they carry should be carefully monitored so that young people are getting the truth and are shown the bad sides as well as the good sides.”

Oxford Spires Academy headteacher Sue Croft, who has welcomed the army four times since last year, said: “For some of the students it is a real area of interest for them.

“Whatever your personal views, children have a right to see what is out there.”

The meeting will begin at 6.30pm.