Queen Elizabeth’s School is one of relatively few state schools in the UK to have a Combined Cadet Force (CCF). Established in 1992, ours is sponsored by the Corps of Royal Engineers, with the Regular Army providing support in training and administration.
Each CCF is a partnership between a school and the Ministry of Defence and has as its aim “the development of personal responsibility, leadership and self-discipline”. Boys in our CCF undertake a broad range of challenging, exciting, adventurous and educational activities, as well as important ceremonial duties on occasions such as Remembrance Sunday and Armed Forces Day.
The CCF at QE, which is for pupils in Years 9-13, provides a training framework in which boys can develop a range of physical abilities, including endurance and co-ordination. It also promotes teamwork and practical leadership skills; on completing the relevant courses, many become instructors within the unit. They also learn self-reliance, which is put into practice during field training. Although the CCF is not a pre-service organisation, the CCF Association acknowledges that CCF objectives include encouraging encourage those who have an interest in the services to become officers of the Regular or Reserve Forces, and a significant number of officers have indeed had experience in a CCF.
Recruitment at QE is limited to 30 boys per annum. All Year 9 pupils are eligible to apply, together with any Year 10 boys who have expressed an interest. To derive the most benefit, boys need to possess at least a moderate level of fitness; selection is therefore by a number of simple physical tests.
The CCF meets weekly after school, with testing and assessment carried out on Saturday mornings. Year 9 recruits receive training in basic weapon-handling, field craft, camp craft and drill. Year 10 boys learn about tactics, leadership, map-reading and first aid. In Year 11, the focus is on methods of instruction and a cadet leadership course, while the Sixth Form have further instruction in all these areas. There are frequent opportunities to take part in activities away from the School, which range from one-day obstacle course training events to the eight-day Central Camp.