The MoD sponsored Combined Cadet Force is a top organisation in the UK for students aged 12 to 18 to take part in a range of activities which endeavour to promote self reliance, responsibility, perseverance and endurance. Whilst it does encourage students to go on and take on a role within the Reserve or Regular Forces, it is by no means a compulsory progression for students taking part in CCF activities. Cadets will, however receive a good grounding in many disciplines and will gain valuable experience, qualifications and skills which will take them forward into successful careers in the future.
Combined cadets offer students a taste of life in the RAF, Navy and Army Cadets. The army cadets are a popular choice with a total of around 47,000 young people involved in army cadets in over 1700 locations around the UK. The ACF in schools takes pupils from year 8 onwards and prides itself on giving young people a challenging, active and inspirational experience to complement their core studies and hobbies.
Students joining the army cadets can look forward to taking part in a number of exciting and challenging activities. Cadets spend their early days learning the basics of cadet life and then move on to working towards the ACF Star Cadet Awards. Working thorough from one to four stars and then to the master cadet level badge give students direction and development opportunities for their skills and include activities such as rifle handling, first aid and orienteering. By the four star stage cadets will be taking part in competition shooting with .22 rifles and will study towards a recognised certificate in first aid. The course also supports the D of E Silver Award.
As well as these opportunities for formal training cadets will be encouraged to get involved in a number of other activities, from music to sports. Cadet forces often have a cadet band, offering students a chance to learn drumming, piping or brass instruments and regular expeditions and camping trips are laid on for cadet forces to support the development of teamwork and orienteering skills.
As well as the Star Awards, cadets can obtain qualifications in first aid, Duke of Edinburgh and various Cadet Vocational Qualifications and leadership courses. The Cadet Vocational Qualification Organisation (CVQO) assists students in getting black and white recognition of the skills they have developed in the ACF. The qualifications easily demonstrate to potential employers and educational facilities the skills and development young people obtain whilst taking part in ACF.
Cadets can join at a number of local institutions, often run by good local schools or colleges. Bromsgrove School in the Midlands, one of the UK’s best private schools, has an active CCF which encourages pupils to be involved in a range of extracurricular activities, as well as supporting their progression towards D of E and other qualifications.
Adults wishing to become involved in ACF can consider volunteering as an adult instructor. Currently there are around 8500 adults involved in the ACF nationwide, each of whom is helping to shape the lives of young people and help them develop skills for their future each day. Instructors are rewarded with an active social life, the opportunities to gain valuable skills and qualifications with a flexible timetable and opportunity to take part in stimulating activities.
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