Come adventuring with the Combined Cadet Force

The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) is a much-loved part of boarding school life for many of our Forces children. Over 500 independent UK secondary schools have a CCF unit your child can join.

It gives them the opportunity to learn things that aren’t part of the school curriculum. They get a unique chance to develop the skills, teamwork and leadership qualities that we’re so proud to see in our Armed Services personnel.

Find out more about CCF at UK boarding schools

The CCF’s stated aim is “to enable the development of personal responsibility, leadership and self-discipline.” And they do this with an amazing range of military-themed activities, designed to be exciting and challenging.

It’s purposefully different to their school learning environment. It’s not about academic ability at CCF. It’s all about developing leadership skills, self confidence, self discipline, teamwork and other essential life skills. There’s a built in rank structure so progress and achievements are recognised.

Is the CCF preparation for military service?

Previous iterations of UK cadet forces were pathways into the armed services. But the CCF is not. Each CCF contingency is a partnership between the school and the Ministry of Defence. The MOD supports the CCF financially – making many of these otherwise prohibitively expensive activities more accessible.

The CCF is an extra curricular opportunity. Participation doesn’t involve a commitment to joining the services. The MOD and the school remain two separate organisations. And the school is ultimately in charge of the CCF.

Each CCF can have sections from the Army, RAF, and Navy/Royal Marines. Every school’s CCF contingent is slightly different, so it’s something you might like to ask about during a school visit. To encourage a sense of belonging and pride, the children wear the uniform of their section and follow some of their structures and traditions. This still doesn’t signify a commitment to later joining that service. It’s for the purposes of being a CCF cadet only.

What do the cadets do?

What don’t they do? There’s an exceptional array of options for your child to choose from. Each Armed Service section has its own focus for activities. For example, Royal Navy/Royal Marines sections offer a range of ‘afloat activities’, like RYA Certified courses in dinghy, powerboat, yacht and motor cruising. But all the sections have common activities that develop a variety of skills:

  • Adventurous training
  • Marksmanship
  • Drill
  • Expeditions
  • Duke of Edinburgh award scheme
  • Vocational qualifications with CVQO
  • Fieldcraft
  • Music
  • First Aid

There’s something for everyone – except parents/carers, unfortunately.

Cadets training involves ‘parade evenings’ that run once or twice a week at school. These focus on training the fundamentals. They then get to use and extend these skills on field days, residential weekend courses and camps, and Summer Camp.

If you think your child might be interested, show them this video – it looks as amazing as it sounds.

Real life skills

Universities and employers will recognise the value of their CCF experience. When they get to that stage, it gives them something commendable to talk about that’s different to many of their peers.

As an in-school experience, the CCF is great for social, personal and practical skill development outside the classroom. They work with students from across other year groups, face previously unmet challenges and get the chance to excel in different ways. It’s also a great way for them to use listening skills, real teamwork, and experience what being a leader feels like.

These are skills that stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. And they have so much fun while they’re honing them.

British Boarding School Network approved Agent 2023 - 2024