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The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) exists in nearly 300 schools all over the UK and offers young people aged 12-18 a broad range of challenging, exciting, adventurous and educational activities. The aim is to enable the development of personal responsibility, leadership and self-discipline. Each unit or contingent is an educational partnership between the school and the Ministry of Defence.
In 2014, the government pledged additional funding to bring the total number of CCFs to 500, growing the number of state school CCFs. Thomas Deacon Academy is a large inner-city comprehensive which opened in Peterborough in 2007. The school has 2,250 students in years 7-13, and was formed by bringing three very different schools together. The academy has had a CCF since it opened, and is now supporting a number of other schools in the area to start their own CCFs.
CEO and Principal, Julie Taylor, explains the positive benefit the CCF has had on the school: ‘As principal, one thing that I find enormously valuable is the unique and rich package of activities that CCF offers to our young people – activities and opportunities to which many would not otherwise have access. I can also see how much involvement in cadets does to help young people develop self esteem, respect for others and a variety of practical and personal skills that will be useful to them in the future whether they are filling in their UCAS form or applying for a job.
‘Cadets and adult volunteers show real leadership in a way that has a knock-on effect throughout the rest of the school. This is perhaps most obvious on Wednesdays when they all come to school in their cadet uniforms looking very smart, calling me Ma’am rather than Mrs Taylor. Every pupil in every class stands a bit taller and dresses a bit smarter because of the cadets’ influence; I don’t have to go around saying “tuck in your shirt” or “why are you wearing trainers?” because other young people are modelling good behaviour for them.
‘It is also important to note that the teachers who volunteer with cadets are also very positive role models for both their colleagues and their students. CCF gives them a chance to pursue all sorts of adventurous activities alongside the cadets, but it also involves them demonstrating that they are prepared to invest their weekends and evenings in this activity.’
Both the Combined Cadet Force, and the community cadet forces (Army, Sea and Air Cadets) are reliant on adult volunteers to run activities successfully. You can find out more about volunteering, or supporting the Combined Cadet Force on their website, www.combinedcadet force.org.uk