Combined Cadet Force (CCF)
WHSB is among the first in a new wave of cadet units in schools.
In partnership with Brentwood School, who have the largest Combined Cadet Force in the country, we established a new cadet unit here in October 2012.
In January 2015 we became the first of these units to become an independent CCF. Although this began initially as just an Army section we added a Royal Navy Section in January 2018 and an RAF section in January 2022. The CCF now stands in excess of 230 cadets strong, with cadets taken from Years 9 to 13.
WHAT IS THE CCF?
The CCF is a voluntary youth organisation sponsored by the Ministry of Defence. Its aim is to provide "a disciplined organisation in a school so that pupils may develop powers of leadership by means of training to promote the qualities of responsibility, self reliance, resourcefulness, endurance and perseverance" and “to provide challenging and enjoyable activities for young people living in the UK, and to better prepare them for their role in the community”. In doing so it endeavours to inculcate in its members the values of the armed forces. The CCF is does not actively recruit its members into the armed forces, however a significant proportion of the armed forces are former cadets whose positive experience in the cadets encouraged them to consider a military career.
The armed forces require leadership, communication, discipline, self respect, pride in appearance, achievement, hard work, responsibility, self reliance, resourcefulness, endurance and perseverance in order to achieve their military objectives. The Cadet Forces teach each of the above by putting cadets through military training and to achieve faux military objectives. Pupils respond differently when placed in a situation where discipline and leadership are expected and taught – this filters through to all other aspects of a cadet’s life.
ROYAL NAVY SECTION
The Royal Navy provides a syllabus for our cadets to work through and introduces them to the workings and structure of the Royal Navy. In the first instance they secure their first set of rank slides – the ‘lollipop’ or Ordinary Cadet. Across the next 2-3 years, as Junior Rates they work through Able Cadet 1 – 3 Star Awards learning key naval terminology, skills and traditions such as seamanship, navigation, rope work, naval drill and recognition of the RN’s surface fleet, air arm and submarines. Having mastered a core knowledge, cadets are then able to progress through the Senior Rates as Petty Officers, Chief Petty Officers and ultimately the section Warrant Officer. These promotions are dependent upon showing qualities of leadership, teaching ability and mastery of the syllabus.
Time is allocated for CCF activities each Thursday afternoon at the end of lessons when cadets then parade from 3.45pm until 5.45pm. As cadets gain experience they have the opportunity to develop their skills through leading and instructing younger cadets. All activities are led by these cadets. Training usually begins with 20-30 mins of drill practice, introducing rifle drill in later years. Activities will then branch out into PLTs, seamanship classes and other forms of instruction. We aim to be outside as much as possible.
CAMPS, COURSES AND FIELD DAYS
The Royal Navy’s trump card is the offering of camps and courses for cadets to sign up to. In the last academic year, we secured spots for upwards of 25 course places for our cadets (in the context of only having 15 cadets in the section). Courses are available as both short stay (2-3 day) introductions or longer, more intensive week-long courses resulting in the awarding of national governing body recognised qualifications such as RYA Awards. In the past year we have had Year 10 cadets on RYA Powerboating Level 2, Spinnaker sailing, Junior Leadership Courses, and RYA Dinghy Sailings Levels 1 & 2, Adventure Training in Wales, and a Summer Band Camp at Britannia Naval College, Dartmouth.
These courses are fully funded by the Royal Navy, with a small nominal charge of no more than £40 for the awarding of some qualifications. The vast majority of courses are free of charge to cadets, with train travel organised through, and at the expense of the MOD. Most courses are based at HMS Excellent, Portsmouth, or Jupiter Point, Cornwall. A full list of courses available (over 100) is distributed to cadets upon sign up to the Section.
In addition to the camps and courses run by the RN, we also have a termly field day(s) arranged in house. Last year’s field days included trip to Portsmouth for motor cruising on the Solent, a weekend stay at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, field days to Phoenix, the School of Maritime Survivability and training on the Royal Navy’s P2000 Fast Patrol Boats. In the Summer Term we go away to Portsmouth for our annual Summer Camp, staying on HMS Bristol, a veteran of the Falkland’s War.
The MoD lays down the syllabus to be followed and cadets work towards receiving their Basic and Advanced Army Proficiency Certificates across two to three years. Topic covered in the first year include drill, first aid, camp craft, field craft, navigation, shooting using 0.22 rifles, weapon training on the L98A2 Cadet General Purpose rifle and leadership exercises. As pupils gain more experience they learn to lead other cadets, formulate and deliver orders, plan responses to military scenarios and the methods of instruction needed to teach lessons.
Time is allocated for CCF activities each Thursday afternoon at the end of lessons when cadets then parade from 4.00pm until 6.00pm. As cadets gain experience they have the opportunity to develop their skills through leading and instructing younger cadets. With the exception of areas of the syllabus which require qualified instructors, which include First Aid and Skill at Arms, all activities are led by these cadets.
CAMPS, COURSES AND FIELD DAYS
While the majority of the day to day activities of the CCF are conducted at School, at least once a term cadets have the opportunity to take part in activities and Field Days which are not on the School site, and are often overnight. These range from opportunities where the theory they learn during the week is put into practice to completely new experiences beyond the CCF syllabus, and are an important part of the activities of the CCF.
We run a biennial Battle Camp during the Easter Holiday. In this camp senior cadets undertake a five-day long Field Training Exercise, practising the fieldcraft skills and leadership skills in an intense environment.
At the week-long Summer Camp cadets undertake a programme of events which includes adventure training activities, military skills, range work, a 24-hour exercise and inter-contingent competitions. This is the culmination of a year’s training and provides many memorable opportunities.
As they become more experienced our cadets are offered the opportunity to take part in courses run by the local Cadet Training and Support Teams, and at the Cadet Training Centre in Frimley Park. They gain invaluable experiences working with specialist serving and retired military personnel, and through engaging with cadets from other units across the country.
ROYAL AIR FORCE SECTION
The Royal Air Force provides a syllabus for our cadets to work through and introduces them to the workings and structure of the RAF. Initially our cadets enter a period of basic training that provides them with knowledge on the ceremonial duties of cadets, the cadet’s uniforms, the ranks within the RAF, principles of airmanship as well as the structure and history of the RAF. Following the initial training our cadets can choose to complete the classification training and further training into any discipline such as first aid, flying, gliding, our method of instruction courses, adventurous training and shooting (using 0.22 rifles, weapon training on the L98A2 Cadet General Purpose)
Time is allocated for CCF activities each Thursday afternoon at the end of lessons when cadets then parade from 4.00pm until 6.00pm. As cadets gain experience they have the opportunity to develop their skills through leading and instructing younger cadets. All activities are led by these cadets. Typical parade evenings will have cadets take part in a lesson spanning subjects such as airmanship, expedition training or leadership training. This is typically followed by a more physical activity such as first aid, operations training, radio exercises, sport or military exercise training. Cadets are always given an opportunity to work towards a multitude of qualifications.
CAMPS, COURSES AND FIELD DAYS
The RAF section can partake in a multitude of different types of camp. Firstly we have our station visit camps. These are typically run by our wing and see our cadets join other cadets from a multitude of CCF units while living for a week on a current RAF base. The cadets are given opportunities to see the many different aspects and job roles while gaining experiences such as flying and gliding. Our second type of camps are run by our unit and see our cadets partake in a multitude of adventurous activities from archery, first aid and navigation exercises similar to our Duke of Edinburgh expeditions. Our most unique camp is the National Air and Space Camps run yearly. These camps are aimed at our cadets who wish to enter into a career in aerospace or STEM subjects. On these camps cadets get hands on experience operating and interpreting radar systems, learning about the engineering behind some of our most advanced systems and meeting people working at the cutting edge of the aerospace industry. While all of this is going on our cadets still get the chance to fly in a variety of aircraft and visit a multitude of RAF stations. The RAF section also offers our cadets a host of international camps including camps to Gibraltar, Germany, Canada and Japan.
As the CCF is sponsored and supported by the Armed Forces, tradition and ceremony are important parts of the CCF experience. WHSB has taken part in the annual Remembrance Day Parade in Southend since November 2012. We also take part in Southend Borough’s annual St George’s Day and Armed Forces Day Parades, as well as providing support for various other events in which we are asked to participate.
In addition the CCF take a central role in the ceremonial life of the School, with cadets in uniform at Speech Day and forming a Guard of Honour at the School’s own annual Service of Remembrance.
The CCF hold an annual Mess Dinner for cadets and their parents, during which cadets experience the full tradition and formality of a Regimental Dinner and in which cadets take upon themselves important ceremonial roles.
While the CCF is heavily subsidised through the MoD, like other CCFs, the School charges an annual fee for participating cadets. The fee for WHSB CCF is £120 per year. This allows the CCF to invest in additional equipment, facilities, administration and training support not funded by the MoD, and we welcome any further donations or sponsorship which friends and parents of the School could provide.
In addition, while some CCF activities are not charged, camps or field days, usually require a supplementary charge in the order of tens of pounds to meet necessary costs.