Fourth annual Headteachers’ Conference heralded a success

Posted on March 02, 2018

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Despite the adverse weather conditions, 103 delegates representing schools from across the country gathered at Cosford’s RAF Museum on Thursday 1 March, at the fourth annual CCF Headteachers’ Conference.

The event, organised by Headquarters Regional Command, saw headteachers and senior leaders gathering to discuss areas of best practice and to hear the latest cadet updates from the Department for Education, the Ministry of Defence and researchers at the University of Northampton who are undertaking a study into the social impact of cadet forces.

The General Officer Commanding, Major General Duncan Capps CBE, from Regional Command welcomed the delegates and introduced the wide ranging programme of the day.

After the event he said: “What’s come through today is just how much great work is being done out there to expand the Combined Cadet Force across the UK, particularly into schools where it hasn’t been possible before.   “We’ve been learning about the themes of leadership and how beneficial the Combined Cadet Force is in improving societal mobility for our youngsters and what they get out of it [being a cadet] particularly in terms of leadership, from both schools that are doing well and those that are not doing so well, how the cadet force has been a fantastic vehicle for improving the outcomes at that school.” 

In his speech the key note speaker, Nadhim Zahawi MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, told the conference: “Cadet units play a key role in supporting one of our key departmental goals – to prepare young people for adult life and to develop the ‘life skills’ they need to thrive in their careers and in their personal lives.

“For too long there has been a false choice between academic standards and activities that build the life skills of young people, and as much as we want someone to be able to solve a quadratic equation, we also want them to be able to face up to all the challenges presented by life in modern Britain too.”

He continued: “Through the establishment of a Combined Cadet Force, a school can play an important part in improving the life chances of young people, irrespective of where they live, or whatever their background. It will provide young people with the opportunity for them to develop qualities such as loyalty and respect, self-confidence, teamwork and resilience – as well as a spirit of adventure, camaraderie and of fun. Being part of the cadet unit can raise aspirations and prepare them for the challenges and responsibilities of employment. It can give them the skills to help shape their own future.”

He thanked the CFAVs for their continued support of cadets and wished everyone continued success. His full speech, for those who couldn’t attend, is available here. Videos from the event can also be found on our Twitter channel @CCFcadets 

He also had the opportunity to meet one of the CCFs inspirational cadets, Cadet Warrant Officer Annie Cleve, of King Edward VI Grammar School CCF in Lincolnshire.

Annie spent five years with the RAF section at her school and achieved great success becoming the Lord-Lieutenant of Lincolnshire’s Cadet, receiving 12 hours of fully-funded flying at Tayside Aviation as part of an Air League Flying Scholarship and taking part in a two-week exchange with the Canadian Air Force. She was also awarded the honour of being named the best RAF CCF cadet in the country after winning the prestigious Sir John Thompson Memorial Sword last year. She’s now studying Aviation Technology and Pilot Studies at Leeds University and hopes to become either a commercial or RAF pilot.   

The conference also heard first hand from two schools about their experience of the CCF.

Neil Hutchinson, Headteacher and Contingent Commander at Royton and Crompton School in Oldham talked about the struggles of taking over a school with behavioural issues but how establishing a cadet force with the full support of his staff is already showing clear improvements in his pupil’s attitudes, attendance and behaviour amongst many other positives.

Dr Andrew Campbell, CEO of Brooke Weston Trust in Corby also took to the stage with Captain Matt Isherwood, Contingent Commander of the Trust’s five school units. They spoke about how pulling their cadets together from five different schools in their area to parade as one contingent is a successful model for developing ‘pride in belonging’.

Researcher Dr Meanu Bajwa-Patel reported back to the delegates on the emerging insights of a four year project looking into the societal impact of cadets.

The University of Northampton, Institute for Social Innovation and Impact, led research has already highlighted how the most disadvantaged children are benefitting from cadet activities and how joining the cadets is more likely to improve both attendance and behaviour.    

The team is looking to gather more data from schools and Meanu urged anyone who would be willing to take part to contact her:  

Conference delegates took full advantage of the plenary question and answer sessions which followed. One of the real benefits of the day was the opportunity to network, share experiences and ideas. This year delegates wore coded name badges so that they could more easily identify their regional peers.  

The conference room was full of experience which delegates were keen to share and learn from, which was particularly beneficial for the six potential Cadet Expansion Programme schools who attended after showing an interest in running a CCF unit at their establishments.

Before heading home from RAF Cosford delegates had a brief opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of the museum.  Planning for the 2019 conference is already under way and feedback from this year’s event will help to shape next year’s agenda and format.


Use the links to download the power points used by the speakers on the day:  

Neil Hutchinson, Royton and Crompton School

Brooke Weston Trust

University of Northampton

Tri-service - leadership for young people