Clear benefits for students with SEN are emerging from the data. “For kids with conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia, cadets have a lot of impact. Although, we’re only just scratching the surface of this now, so we didn’t include it in the interim report.”
Meanu continues: “Through no fault of their own, teachers perhaps don’t have the time to give to those students that CFAVs do. Adult volunteers can give them support and a sense of wellbeing. For the cadets we spoke to who have those needs, the organisation, the feedback and the structure of the cadet forces – do this and you get your reward, misbehave and you lose your stripes – has a real impact.”
A surprising finding from her work so far has been the impact of the cadet forces on CFAVs. “We hadn’t expected to look at the adults,” says Meanu. “It just came about as part of the interviews: the adults talked about cadets bringing meaning to their lives, reward, a sense of inclusion and social wellbeing.”
The next focus for Meanu and her colleagues is building links with CEP schools. “We’re talking to lots of headteachers, getting them to do our survey and gathering their attendance and behaviour data,” she says. “We’re also going to try to develop a control group of children who are not cadets.” Meanu is also trying to broaden the impact of the research itself, particularly within the education sector. “We’ll have to see what the data shows but we anticipate there being some strong findings about how CCFs in CEP schools help keep disillusioned children in school,” she says.
One thing she does want to make clear is that CFAVs can rest assured that the time they put into cadet activities is having a ‘massive impact’. “I’ve taught for many years but I’ve never met as many confident, articulate kids as in this year of research,” she says.
Pictured below with cadets is another member of the research team, Professor Simon Denny, Executive Dean of Research, Impact & Enterprise at the University of Northampton.