Cadet units in schools are supported financially by the Ministry of Defence, but are not part of the Armed Forces. The cadet forces follow some of the customs and traditions of their parent Service, such as using the same rank structure, and taking part in some military-themed training, but the organisations are separate. There is no commitment to military service of any kind, for the cadets or adults involved.
The focus of the CCF is to provide active and adventurous training, to give young people opportunities for personal development outside of the classroom.
Structure of the CCF within the school
Each school with a CCF will have a Contingent Commander, an experienced CCF Officer. They are responsible for the safe running and administration of the contingent, which could be made up of Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force sections. Other CCF Officers and support staff will be volunteers from the school staff, or sometimes from the broader community.
Alongside the Contingent Commander in every school is the Staff School Instructor. He or she will usually have a military background or experience with a military youth organisation such as the Army Cadet Force, bringing with them a great deal of experience and knowledge of military procedure, to support the smooth running of cadet activities.
Every section is linked to a Service parent establishment, giving the cadets plenty of opportunity to visit a military base and in many cases use the facilities that the establishment offers. Typically this could be using obstacle courses and navigation training areas, or making the most of the excellent training aids such as flight simulators.
Process for joining the CCF
Each school will have its own arrangements for starting the CCF and its own induction process. Typically cadets would join in Year 8 or Year 9, but the starting year group and time frame can vary from school to school. In schools with more than one section, cadets may have the choice of which service they would like to join. They will then wear the uniform of this Service.
From the outset, cadets will have the opportunity to try many different activities offered by the CCF. There are many different qualifications such as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, St John Ambulance first aid qualifications and BTECs, which they can work towards, and as they spend more time in the CCF, they will be encouraged to aim for promotion. Promotion and achievement does not come down to academic ability, and the cadets who excel are those who develop their teamwork, listening skills, self-discipline, organisation and commitment. Those who prove themselves will achievement promotion through the ranks, allowing them more responsibility and input into their section's activities.
Each year the cadets will have the opportunity to attend one of several centrally controlled camps, often held at MOD establishments, some of which will also offer National Governing Body certificates. These camps offer the cadets the chance to experience life on a military base, but alongside their peers and school staff. The MOD is very conscious of its role as activity provider and undertakes to ensure every session that a cadet is involved in adheres to the strict regulations laid out in its own safety management system. This is often above national governing level set by the sports own guidelines, and will ensure a safe environment for your child.
For the most detailed information about the activities and training on offer at a specific contingent, talk to your child's school for more information about their CCF.