CCF at Whitgift (St Andrew's CofE Voluntary Aided High School, Croydon)
Whitgift has CCF partnerships with two local schools as part of a government initiative for which Whitgift is one of the leading participants, and the only school to have fostered two partnerships. These schools now have over 50 boys and girls benefiting from joining Whitgift’s Combined Cadet Force at no expense to them. The pupils, and some staff from these schools, attend CCF every Tuesday at Whitgift, joining the Army, Navy or RAF sections, and are fully integrated with the Whitgift boys. In these sessions, they get the opportunity to participate in activities such as drill, shooting, battle craft and map reading, as well as CCF trips and camps. The CCF partnerships have been running now for over six years and are greatly appreciated by the participating schools and their pupils.
The whole aim of the CCF is to provide physical and mental challenges in a safe but challenging environment encouraging and developing self-reliance, citizenship, leadership, team building and communication skills. In addition, the CCF is designed to offer new and exciting, as well as challenging, activities, all with an element of fun. In particular, the Camps and Training Days are always popular.
Those students who remain in the CCF beyond Year 9 are taught to instruct and be responsible for the younger pupils and also have the opportunity to attend more camps and activities, sometimes abroad.
Experience has shown that even those who are reluctant, do gain from being in the CCF environment and grow in confidence and self-esteem. This is a disciplined organisation which offers challenges to young people in an ordered and safe manner.
The CCF at Whitgift was established in 1874 and there is also a Corps of Drums which performs at many local events as well as national events.
Seven years ago, we established partnerships with two local maintained schools (Thomas More and St. Andrews) to allow their students to access our facilities and the opportunities of the CCF. During this time, it has been a great success as their students and ours have worked together at camps and at meets on Tuesdays, and also their staff and ours have formed a close working relationship.
The School provides use of the school grounds, classrooms, swimming pool, sports hall, our indoor and outdoor firing ranges, minibuses and photocopying. We have a dedicated full-time member of staff who is also provided with housing and have seven members of the Whitgift teaching staff involved in the CCF. Another two members of staff attend from Thomas More School and two from St Andrews. In addition, we have a large network of ex-students (Old Whitgiftians (OWs)) who come to assist with the CCF on a regular basis.
We have good links with the regular forces enabling cadets from all three schools to participate in training weekends and camps with the regular armed forces.
All Tuesday CCF sessions are provided free of charge and the training weekends and camps are heavily subsidised.
Whitgift has a tradition of boys joining the armed forces and currently we have 40 OWs in the regular or reserve forces. We have run the two partnerships with local maintained schools for the past 7 years and their pupils have participated fully in all CCF activities.
Cadets follow a core curriculum containing activities such as shooting on the indoor range and also the outdoor range, map reading, canoeing, sailing, climbing, orienteering, drill, leadership activities and problem solving exercises, and are trained so as to be able to shoot safely. Once at Camp, cadets will take part in a day walk, obstacle course, shooting, fieldcraft, signals (radios), PE and sport and also a military exercise to put all their training into practice. The pupils have also had the opportunity to attend camps with the Army and take part in an Adventurous Training Expedition to Dorset.
Students from Whitgift and our partner schools have been trained to teach the younger cadets from all three schools and have attended leadership courses, for example, the annual Royal Marines leadership course at Lympstone.
At the Annual General Inspection (AGI), which involves up to 400 students from Whitgift and the partner schools, a wide range of activities including leadership challenges, Tug of War competitions, shooting, archery, flight simulator, kayaking, diving, abseiling, climbing, obstacle courses, fieldcraft, rigging a boat, a simulated platoon attack and Beating Retreat by the Corps of Drums are watched by parents of all three schools. We have had a helicopter from the Army Air Corps and over 40 pupils got to fly during the afternoon. Senior Regular Forces Inspecting Officers have praised both the facilities on offer as well as the partnerships we have fostered and their annual reports have been very positive (see below).
The school was very pleased to host Sergeant Beharry Johnson VC at the most recent AGI when he met cadets from all three schools and gave a talk and presented trophies to the competition winners. This gave students the chance to meet and talk to an inspirational and distinguished soldier who gave them an insight into the realities of war.
In addition to the Whitgift boys, we have 50 boys and girls from Thomas More and St Andrew’s schools from Years 9-13. The CCF has also run sessions for the Croydon Turnaround Project for youth offenders, offering a range of activities including sport, leadership training and adventure training.
Highlights over the past 5 years have included students from all three schools going helicopter flying, climbing, canoeing, shooting on the range, extended visits at sea on HMS Ocean, including a voyage from Gibraltar to Plymouth. In addition, the School CCF takes part in local events such as the Croydon Remembrance Service and also the Royal Fusiliers Remembrance Parade in London. A group from all three schools helped with planting memorial poppies at the Tower of London in 2014. Students have visited the Army Air Corp at Middle Wallop and experienced helicopter flying as well as a select group going to sea in a nuclear-powered submarine.
CCF involvement by the two partnerships is highly valued and celebrated (please see above for quotes from the teaching staff and pupils from those schools).
The CCF meets every Tuesday from 3.55pm to 5.30pm during the School year. There are also camps in October (3 days), January (3 days), March (5 days) and, during the summer holidays, there are two one-week camps. Pupils from all three schools are involved in all of these.