Westonbirt’s Newly Formed Combined Cadet Force
We are delighted to have launched a Combined Cadet Force (CCF) at Westonbirt this academic year for students in Years 9 to 13. The CCF provides a disciplined framework and, through a combination of adventurous and military training, aims to provide students with opportunities to develop their resourcefulness, adaptability and perseverance, alongside their leadership, teamwork and problem-solving skills. Cadets partake in a variety of activities and tasks to include fitness training, drill, field craft, navigation and mapwork skills, camping and STEM activities.
The CCF operates every Thursday from 4:30-6:30pm, led by our Contingent Commander James Monteith, our School’s Staff Instructor Alistair Paton, as well as other volunteers from our school staff. Alistair Paton spent 14 years in the Royal Airforce Regiment and British Army and has been an invaluable source of military knowledge.
Acting Pilot Officer James Monteith shares with us his vision for the CCF at Westonbirt and why he believes students should join.
What do you believe are the benefits of the CCF for students?
Westonbirt School Royal Airforce Air Cadets (WBS-RAFAC) offers a co-curricular activity filled with exciting, fun and educational activities. Marksmanship, gliding/flying, and fieldcraft are some of the activities that I look forward to the most. I know that for some students however, it may be principles of flight, radio coms, and STEM. RAFAC provides such a wide variety of activities and lessons, there truly is something for everyone!
Discipline, resilience, and the ability to use initiative are three characteristics I personally hope our cadets will learn during their time here at WBS-RAFAC. However, I recognise there are a myriad of benefits to joining the cadets, and each student will gain a different set of skills, knowledge, and characteristics from it depending on the individual character traits they already possess.
What did the initial selection process involve?
I strongly believe everyone has something to offer to a section, and those who perhaps struggle a bit more in selection have an ability to grow, learn and develop a host of skills. Unfortunately however, as a new section with new staff, we were limited in the numbers we could take into the WBS-RAFAC, and therefore a selection process was required. A very light-hearted hour of introductory information sessions, leadership and teamwork tasks were planned for the prospective cadets. They were randomly split into three sections and assessed in a host of different tasks with which they were presented.
What does a normal week look like?
The wonderful thing about The Royal Air Force Cadets (RAFAC) organisation is that they leave a lot of room for us to naturally grow in our chosen direction. However, they do also provide us with a vast bank of high-quality training material, some of which is mandatory, ensuring all cadets receive a certain level and direction of training.
Our WBS-RAFAC team recognise that we have a mix of personalities, all with their strengths and weaknesses, interests and dislikes. As a result of this, a day for the 35 student cadets enrolled in our section can vary greatly from week to week and even hour to hour within the day. Typically, parade starts with 30 minutes of drill, a great way to instil discipline, patience and to create cohesion within a section. After this, we enter a rotation. We like to ensure there is an academic session and outdoor activity every afternoon for every cadet to increase variety and maintain focus.
What is your vision for the CCF at Westonbirt?
I firmly believe in being active and outdoors. Scenarios that place individuals in safe, yet physically and mentally demanding conditions have had a huge impact on who I am today. I would like to provide a cadet experience based on this model; therefore, my vision is for a green (outdoors) focused WBS-RAFAC flight. I’m very lucky to have a supportive and enthusiastic team with a varied skill set, some being well suited to the classroom, others well suited to the outdoors, and none who would refuse to be in either!