The Combined Cadet Force – CCF

Our aim is to enable the development of personal responsibility, leadership and self-discipline. The CCF is an educational partnership between the School and the Ministry of Defence, and we operate Royal Navy, Army, and Royal Air Force sections. Becoming a cadet can be a life-changing experience. It will give you the opportunity to take part in a huge range of exciting and adventurous military-themed activities – whether that’s flying a plane, completing an army obstacle course, or learning to sail, there is something for everyone.

Whichever section you join, you will quickly build important skills like teamwork, confidence and self-discipline, as well as later having the opportunity to take on leadership roles. CCF offers you a chance to get to know a wide range of people from across the schools, and work together to take on new challenges.

Service Sections
Each section naturally has its own flavour. The Royal Naval Section will sail as much as possible during the warmer months, and during those periods cadets will return to school later in the afternoon, typically between 1700 and 1800. Army Section training is focused on basic infantry fieldcraft tactics, team-building, and rifle skills and Army cadets typically form the bulk of the prestigious Patrols Platoon. The RAF Section endeavours to get its cadets off the ground at least once a year (more for those attending camps), most commonly in gliders or light aircraft, and some cadets can earn their ‘solo’ flying wings and even a private pilot’s licence via a Flying Scholarship. On the ground, training covers leadership, principles of flight, and developing knowledge of the RAF.

As part of the options process, you will be asked to bid for your preferred section – while we do our best to accommodate your first choice, the distribution of staff may sometimes mean that you will have to join your second-choice section. Please be aware that the number of places in the Royal Naval Section in particular is strictly limited.

Basic training
On joining, you will be assigned to a unit of around twelve cadets, who will be your team for much of the first year. To begin with, you will be shown how to wear your uniform correctly, and be taught how to march as part of a team. This fundamental skill has several functions – prime amongst these is developing the responsiveness and self-discipline required to undertake future activities safely, whether out on the water, on the shooting range, or in the air. More immediately, it enables you to appear with pride and confidence in public as members of the Contingent on Remembrance Sunday in November, and the spectacular Annual Review in the spring. Basic training across all three sections is wide-ranging and includes first aid, map and compass skills, team-building tasks, and safe use of the cadet rifles. You will also follow a training syllabus specific to your section, with the intention of passing your basic training tests by the end of Year 12.

Further training and leadership roles
After the first year of basic training, you will develop specialised skills within your Sections, such as joining the Air Squadron Trophy team, or going on exercise with Patrols Platoon. The most committed and promising cadets can expect to take on leadership roles as Non-Commissioned Officers. This typically involves planning, delivering, and reviewing weekly learning activities for junior cadets – we expect our NCO’s to be able to take ownership of much of the Contingent’s training. Our aim is for emerging leaders to develop the practical skills and personal confidence that will make you a success in the workplace after school. The most senior cadets will regularly chair meetings, plan training programmes, discuss performance and risk management, and give presentations – very much the kind of skills you may see in a management meeting in most careers in the ‘real world’. They will also develop the vital ‘soft’ skills of being a thoughtful and inspiring role model to others. Many employers are ex-cadets themselves, and instantly recognise the value of having been a Non-Commissioned Officer in the CCF.

The old adage ‘the more you put in, the more you get out’ is extremely apt in the CCF. All cadets make a commitment for at least one academic year. Beyond the normal Thursday afternoon training sessions and the two Field Days per year, the best place to put your skills into practice is to attend a week-long summer camp. This is the highlight of the year for those who attend – interesting, exhausting, and great fun! Additionally, the MOD runs superb leadership courses, which boost the skills of our Non-Commissioned Officers and allow them to apply for further promotion. Other courses during weekends and holidays range from powerboating to parachuting, canoeing to climbing, and signals to sailing. A number of cadets incorporate their CCF training into the BTEC Diploma in Public Services or an Institute of Leadership and Management qualification.

We are not a military recruiting organisation, although we can provide advice should your child be interested in a career in defence in the future. Equally, while the feel of a Thursday afternoon will be different from an academic lesson, the normal standards of dress, behaviour, and commitment apply, just as they would in any other school activity.

The Ministry of Defence’s financial contribution runs to several thousands of pounds annually to enable the Contingent to offer a wide range of activities to its cadets. Not all costs are covered, however (for instance, the service requirement for a contribution towards rations and transport) and therefore these are incorporated in an initial joining fee of £100 and subsequent annual subscriptions of £40. Cadets also normally buy their own boots, but all other clothing and equipment is supplied. Additional camps and courses may involve a further cost, depending on the activity, but are always very good value. No cadet should miss the opportunity to join because of financial difficulty, nor should she feel that other interests automatically exclude her – the Contingent Commander will be glad to discuss any such matters if necessary.

The CCF is a fantastic opportunity for you to try something that you would not normally think of doing. By approaching it with energy and enthusiasm, you can expect to learn important life skills and have a great time in the process!