The tradition of cadet units in schools goes back over 150 years to the 1850s. In 1948, the Combined Cadet Force was formed, covering cadets from all three Services. In 1859, the idea of cadet units in schools was developed by the Secretary of State for War, Jonathan Peel - who wrote to public schools and universities, inviting them to form units of the Volunteer Corps. Several schools took up the idea, and the first Cadet Corps in a school was formed in 1860 at Rossall School. Other units formed soon after at Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Hurstpierpoint and Felsted School - although Felsted School's armed drill contingent pre-dated the 1859 letter from the War Office.
These early units were focused on Army activities, and were usually associated with Rifle Volunteer Battalions for Home Defence, with cadets wearing the uniforms of their parent volunteer battalions. The Corps evolved over time, focusing on Officer Training - and during the World War I and II, many of the young men who served in the units went on to serve their country in the Armed Forces.
After World War II, the structure of the Armed Forces changed, including the cadet units in school, which became the Combined Cadet Force in 1948 - incorporating sections from all of the Armed Forces, the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force. Over the following decades, the focus of the group moved away from being a recruitment pathway in to the Armed Forces, the number of CCFs in state schools slowly grew - and for the first time girls were allowed to join.
Today the Combined Cadet Force contingents are very different to those early groups of young people. Although they are still based on the ethos of the Armed Forces - their focus is on helping young people to develop and reach their full potential by providing challenging, active, adventurous and fun activities.
There are CCF contingents in over 400 secondary schools all over the UK, offering young people a broad range of challenging, exciting, adventurous and educational activities. Our aim is to enable the development of New skills, Friendship, personal responsibility, leadership and self-discipline. Each CCF is an educational partnership between the school and the Ministry of Defence, and a CCF may include Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army or Royal Air Force sections.
TWGGS contingent delivers a range of experiences and skills which include Advanced First Aid, Field Craft (including cooking and camping), Shooting, Signals Drill, Navigation, Fitness and much more.
The only pre-requisites for meaningful participation in the CCF are enthusiasm and commitment – there is a not a “cadet type”. The young people who flourish within CCF and progress into positions of rank invariably become excellent self-managers and develop a high degree of personal responsibility and confidence. They can abide by sensible rules and regulations and have the self-control to channel their energies into becoming leaders within the organisation.
In mid 2012, Mrs Wybar was given permission under the Cadet Expansion Programme to start the TWGGS CCF after we had outgrown a three year partnership with Skinners' School CCF. We are both proud and fortunate to be the first CCF formed under this David Cameron initiative. Our first parade was held on 3 September 2012 and we had 11 cadets present with three staff. We re-badged to the Royal Engineers in 2014. From that very humble beginning, the contingent has swollen to over 200 cadets in two sections (the RN section was initiated in late 2016) and has also continued to grow at a very healthy rate.
The unit is firmly based on the British Army Standards and Values of Selfless Commitment, Respect for Others, Loyalty, Integrity, Discipline and Courage. These are exactly the same for the Royal Navy. These characteristics underpin everything we do and offer. Indeed, they are the base criteria for promotion and all activities are planned to try to demonstrate and reinforce them. On Monday parades all cadets are engaged with different levels of the curriculum and this covers, Fieldcraft, Weapons, Navigation, First Aid, Signals, Physical skills and Drill. The Royal Navy cadets cover similar topics but with a maritime emphasis.
Cadets of both sections are broken into smaller groupings and they are managed by older cadets holding Non-Commissioned Officer (NCOs) ranks, who will help with instruction and understanding of lessons. We have volunteer adults who are here regularly and they all have an area of expertise they can contribute to the unit. Each officer is responsible for a platoon - in effect, they run a mini CCF within the unit and this helps to build a rapport between officers and the cadets. They use the rank structure to give all cadets a sense of responsibility and accountability. Our cadets are often praised for their maturity and the way they conduct themselves in all circumstances.
TWGGS CCF is an extremely active unit with many activities planned each term. In the last 12 months we have held 55 meetings, events, camps or exercises to try and meet the training demands of all of the various levels within the unit. This seems to work and the contingent has had a lot of success with wins in prestigious competitions and invitations to elite events. This includes winning the Cambrian Patrol twice in consecutive years, placing in the Brigade competitions over the last four years, debating in the House of Lords, visiting the 10 Downing Street and attending the Passing out Parade at Sandhurst. We have sent cadets on Exchange to Canada and other countries and have been invited twice to send the staff cadet back to Canada in a management role. We have also had cadets on trips to South Africa, The Himalayas, The Amazon, Germany, Finland and all over the UK. Some of our cadets have been named top cadet at the the Cambrian Patrol and on various Leadership courses throughout the country. We have had Lord Lieutenant cadets and national champions in Orienteering. There have been many prizes won for drill, march and shoots, first aid and fieldcraft.
The future looks very bright for us as we keep growing at a brisk pace due to the extraordinarily dedicated 23 staff we have within the contingent. We have also been used to market the idea of an all-female CCF to other girls' schools all around the country. Many of our cadets have left to join OTCs at university or other service organisations.
Standards and Values
Whilst the contingent has had considerable success in cadet competitions, everything we do is based on the army Standards and Values and that's what we judge success by
Respect for Others
These serve as the foundation of our unit and the manifestation of these standards and values sits at the heart of promotion for staff and cadets alike.