Norfolk school military cadet units to expand following extra funding

RAF cadets from Wymondham College combined cadet force on parade.

RAF cadets from Wymondham College combined cadet force on parade. - Credit: Sapientia Education Trust

Forces cadet units in Norfolk schools are set to be expanded after being allocated extra funding to increase the number of pupils taking part.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has announced a £1.1 million injection of investment to increase capacity at existing school-based “combined cadet force” units to employ more staff instructors to help run them.

The combined cadet force programme began in 2012 and aims to offer students a range of “challenging, exciting, adventurous and educational activities”.

Each unit is a partnership between a school and the Ministry of Defence, with Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army or RAF sections.

Norfolk schools and colleges with cadet units include the Iceni Academy in Methwold, East Norfolk Sixth Form College, University Technical College Norfolk, the Langley School in Loddon and Gresham’s in north Norfolk.

Army cadets from Wymondham College combined cadet force

Army cadets from Wymondham College combined cadet force, which is part of the school's Wymondham Life extra curricular programme that also includes sporting activities, Duke of Edinburgh Awards, academic clubs and societies. - Credit: Sapientia Education Trust

Wymondham College has a combined Army/RAF cadet unit which also involves pupils from Hethersett Academy

Headteacher Dan Browning said: “It is really good to bring young people together from different schools. It is fantastic the way it develops leadership skills but it is also it encourages children to make more friends and socialise.

“They do all sorts of things including field craft, drill, they have classroom-based lessons, we are lucky enough to have an indoor rifle range and a flight simulator.”

Wymondham College headteacher Dan Browning.

Wymondham College headteacher Dan Browning. - Credit: Sapientia Education Trust

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He said cadets regularly attend camps in the UK or at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, have been chosen to accompany the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, while some have gone to achieve Army scholarships at Sandhurst. 

Mr Williamson, a former defence secretary, who commissioned a report in 2018 to look at how military values could benefit pupils, said: “The values of our Armed Forces – those of resilience, perseverance, and teamwork – are the same that we want to instil in all our young people. These are skills that will serve pupils both now and well into adulthood.”

Education secretary Gavin Williamson.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson. - Credit: PA

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The extra funding is not aimed at increasing the number of cadet units, but boosting the number of pupils in existing units. The government has said its ambition is to have “60,000 cadets in school units”.

Mr Browning said: “We are looking at ways to expand numbers maybe through partnerships with other local schools. But it is also about the facilities. We are looking to move them into a larger building so they can have more numbers.”

Pupils from Hethersett Academy's new Combined Cadet Force on exercise at RAF Barnham Camp near Thetf

Pupils from Hethersett Academy's new combined cadet force, a partnership with Wymondham College, on exercise at RAF Barnham Camp near Thetford. - Credit: Inspiration Trust

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