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Call to fund pupils' battlefield visits

THE Scottish Government is under pressure to fund extra visits by school pupils to battlefield sites to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.

Last month, David Cameron pledged £5 million to allow pupils from every state secondary school in England to visit First World War battlefields in 2014.

Under the project, two pupil "ambassadors" and a teacher from each school will be offered the chance to visit battlefields such as the Somme, Verdun and Fromelles – and take part in remembrance ceremonies on the Western Front.

The Scottish Government has not yet announced any similar plans for Scotland.

Liz Smith, education spokeswoman for the Scottish Conservative Party, raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament yesterday.

"The UK Government has already announced extensive plans to commemorate this historic centenary, including a new flagship scheme to give thousands of schoolchildren the opportunity to visit the battlefields," she said.

"These visits are extraordinarily powerful educational experiences, the impact of which stay with young people for the rest of their lives, and I believe it is vitally important that young Scots enjoy the same benefits as their counterparts in the rest of the UK."

Fiona Hyslop, the Culture and External Affairs Secretary, said Scotland's contribution to the war would never be forgotten.

"The Scottish Government is working with military and veterans' groups, cultural bodies, education groups and the UK Government on proposals to commemorate the centenary of this conflict and to ensure Scotland plays its full part in the World War One commemorations."

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