CCF. Giz a clue.

Massed wise owls of arrse, I need some advice please.

One of my daughters (14) is going to a boarding school in September that has a CCF. It has both Army (RAC) and RAF sections.

Now I know bugger all really about cadets. I never was one, and hadn't had much interaction with them during my time in the mob. In a boarding school, I guess the CCF is a much more integral part of school life than a stand-alone ACF, SCC or ATC unit.

Do cadets have to bull their toecaps, press their kit and do the whole "right marker...get on parade" barracks type bullshit, or is that part relaxed for cadets? What are the minor admonishments? e.g. late for parade, kit in rag order? A regular soldier would be doubled off to the house on the corner, and given extras or charged. I don't see that working with cadets, but they have to be held accountable if they are late or ironed their kit with a cold mess tin.

I suppose I'm looking for where I can help my daughter. I can't help her with abseiling, glider flying or PT (do they do PT?), but I can help her with bulling kit, radio procedures etc.

Any pointers?

One last one - every good soldier has a decent watch and pocket knife/leatherman. Are they allowed the knives/tools? And what is the recommended basic military watch these days? I guess it needs luminous hands, be rugged and waterproof, and that's about it.

Cheers fellas.


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Some CCFs enjoy a bit of bull, but nowhere near the sort of nonsense you'll have encountered in the Royal Corps. Pretty harmless altogether. It's a school organisation, officered by teachers and the discipline's not military - school rules on how pupils are to be treated and sanctioned apply equally to CCF, Scouts, DofE, whatever the given school gets up to.

I wouldn't lash her up with knives, survival tins and that kind of thing until she's had the chance to scope out what the cool kids carry. A Silva compass of her own and a G10 clone watch might be useful.
I joined the band and learned to play the bagpipes. There was, fairly obviously, a lot of cleaning, pressing, bulling and blancoing involved.

That, and a lot of range time, was pretty much my CCF existence.
I was at a school with a CCF. I can talk more about the army section than the RAF section, as I was in the green bit.

These days I'm an instructor in the ACF, and we share our drill-hall with an ATC unit.

I've been comparing the differences and similarities in my head the last few months and I'll out down here the ones that I think you might find useful.

Both ACFs and CCFs are military themed youth groups that draw a small amount of sponsorship from the MoD. They are officially NOT recruitment tools ... but a lot of ex-cadets join up once they're in adulthood. They exist to give young people a dose of discipline, using the military hierarchy as a model, and to expose young people to exciting activities that they might not otherwise have a chance to attend.

Both organisations suffer from a slightly fossilized view of the army rank structure and how people are recruited to fill those ranks. Before the 1980s I'm told it was unusual to find an officer who had a degree, Sandhurst was a 2-year course and most entrants came from private schools. A grammar school boy might have had to push rather harder to get in. Nowadays most guys going to Sandhurst have a degree (although some wonder why), you can commission with an accent and in some corps even the other-ranks have degrees.

ACFs used to have a mindset of "if you go into the Army, you'll join as a squaddie", and detachments were run on an NCO model, with a Sergeant-Major instructor in charge and the other adults being Sgts or S/Sgts. They accept kids in Year-8 on almost a warm-body basis, but by the time they've been in 3 or so years and have a stripe or two, the ones that remain are pretty switched on and keen. The other-ranks minsdet is going. If a kid has two or three stripes, is doing decent A-levels and is performing well at Phys, no-one is saying he can't have a crack at Sandhurst (No-one is saying he must either, we're not recruiters!). My county is also pushing for most detachments to be run by 2Lt/Lts within a few years, too.

CCFs are a little more insulated from the real world. Maybe my school was worse than many, but here goes.
The "directing staff" of a CCF are (mostly) drawn from the school's teachers. This is because (I've learned since leaving) that the Head has a duty to the Board-of-Governors not to let people they (the BoG) haven't signed off on as being good-eggs to go wandering around the grounds.
Partly because it was unusual for other ranks to have a degree (which most teachers do), partly because most slots at Sandhurst used to go to the privately educated, and partly because it would have been socially awkward for an ex-private school kid to have served in the ranks 40+ years ago, these Teachers-in-DPM/MTP are given instant commissions, even if they have no military experience. While this means that the Officers are both skilled "behaviour managers" of kids of that age, and have the disciplinary system of the school to back them up, it does mean that the military-skills content might be delivered from the book. Thankfully there is usually an ex-regular SNCO/WO as the school's "PSI" to balance this out, as well as visits by the CTT (cadet training team) from the parent regular regiment.

The syllabus in ACFs and CCFs are largely the same. Drill and Turn-out, Military Fieldcraft, Skill-at-Arms, Shooting, Navigation, a bit of PT, signals, and Adventrous training. If you're a serviceman or demobbed, it's quite watered down stuff, no NBC drills, no Bayonet training. It's designed so that a moderately fit 14 year-old can have a lot of fun.

In ACF the kids are there voluntarily. You can't punish them much, but if they're doing badly at school and still coming to ACF, it might be the most positive and interesting thing in their lives, so letting them know that you're disappointed in their turnout that day often does the trick. For children with either disinterested parents, or those who just don't have spare cash to send the kids to outwardbound centres in the school hols, the ACF is a chance for them to do a lot of cool stuff they might not otherwise get a chance to, for not actually that much money; kayaking, abseiling, hill-walking, D-of-E etc.

In most CCFs attendance in voluntary too. As well as some parade-square shouting for poor-performance, both the school's discipline system and transferring the kid to a duller Out-of-class Activity are viable techniques. I suppose that the schools where CCF is mandatory a pupil might find themselves punished (working detentions, weekend loss-of-privileges) for failing to participate whole-heartedly.

Generally a private school has the facilities to offer outdoor-activites and D-of-E outside of Cadets, too. However, it is traditional that such schools offer CCF. It is for some parent's a selling point in the prospectus. Many Schools also use it as a "leadership-lab", as not every geek with AAB A-level scores can also say "and I was Cdt-RSM of my school's CCF". It's also a third route for the Head to pick potential Prefects or Head-Boys/Girls beyond academic standing and sporting prowess.

If you remember it's an army-themed game, and not the be all and end all of your life, it can be a lot of fun. Certainly it's the thing I gave the most of a damn about before my A-level years.

I'll send you a PM with some warning signs of a badly run detachment though.
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I used to be a cadet before I joined up, theres no need to spunk money on anything other than decent comfortable boots....and possibly a collapsing ASP to keep the more dubious instructors at bay.

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