Combined Cadet Force

We are excited to announce that The Gilberd School is in the final stages of establishing its own Combined Cadet Force and that this unit will begin working with students from the beginning of September 2021.

We have embarked upon an advertising campaign with students and we understand that parents/carers may also have some questions. We have tried to answer those most commonly anticipated below:

What is a Combined Cadet Force?
This is a youth organisation supported by the Ministry of Defence to develop leaderships skills, self-discipline and self-confidence in young people. It will be supported by a local regiment and run by commissioned officers who are also teaching or support staff in the school.

Who is eligible to join?
Any student from the beginning of Year 8 onwards (current Year 7s are therefore eligible to sign up now for September 2021).

Why have you introduced this?
The benefits of engagement in extra-curricular activities are huge, particularly for mental well-being, making new friends, self-confidence and the development of leadership skills. The CCF gives access to a far wider range of unique experiences than many extra-curricular clubs and organisations. Once age-mixed extra-curricular activities have fully returned, we intend to encourage every KS3 student to join up to at least one extra-curricular activity. This may include one of four pathways: 1) STEM clubs 2) Performing arts clubs 3) competitive sports teams 4) CCF including Duke of Edinburgh’s award

What if my child enjoys activities in more than one pathway?
Students may join the CCF and still take part in one or more of the others subject to time commitments.

What will it cost?
Membership of the CCF will be free in the first year unlike many community based Cadet units. We may extend this offer beyond the first year. Like any other trip, there may be contributions to weekend expeditions for transport. Uniforms will be provided free of cost. For those who can afford to, we may ask for a contribution towards boots but we can acquire these at trade prices and also support with those for whom cost may present a barrier to joining.

What activities/qualifications will by child participate in/gain?
- Duke of Edinburgh’s
-  Award Bronze/Silver
- First aid course
- Weekend expeditions
- Night manoeuvres
- Rifle shooting
- Leadership training
- Inter-school cadet unit competitions
- Organised use of Colchester Garrison facilities
- Orienteering skills
- Field craft skills
- Community based projects
- Camping skills
- Remembrance day parades
- Drill/rifle drill
- Self-defence classes
- Outward bound activities
... And much more

What leadership roles are available?
Students can progress through the non-commissioned CCF rank structure however, this will not exclude students from applying for prefect roles in Year 9 and above.

Is the activity risk free?
Nothing is risk free and outward bound activities are physical in nature. However, strict health and safety guidelines mean that physical activities are closely supervised by qualified staff using only approved equipment.

Will my child handle weapons?
Rifle shooting is one of the approved activities of the CCF; this may be with air rifles or the Cadet version of the standard L85 British Army issue rifle. This will always be with very stringent and qualified adult supervision on approved ranges using the adapted equipment appropriate for a youth organisation.

Does this mean my child is being recruited into the army/navy/air force?
Absolutely not. This is a youth organisation run by The Gilberd School which follows a curriculum to develop leadership and outward bound skills. It is voluntary and students are free to leave at any time.

Can my child gain their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award without joining the CCF?
We will only be delivering the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award curriculum via CCF. Students who wish to acquire the Duke of Edinburgh’s award without being a member will need to do so via a community organiser.

What happens on drill days?
We are aiming to run these on Wednesdays. Students will bring their CCF uniforms to school and wear them all day in place of their Gilberd uniforms. Changing facilities will be provided for students on arrival and departure from school (unless being picked up).

What if my child is a member of a community Cadet unit already?
We encourage them to join The Gilberd CCF since it offers a unique school-based experience. We have consulted the MOD and students in community Cadet units are eligible to remain members whilst also joining the Gilberd CCF. More experienced Cadets from community units may ‘port’ their ranks into the Gilberd school CCF and work in a leadership capacity with new Cadets. Membership of the Gilberd CCF need not impact on their involvement in community units.

Who are your commissioned officers?
They are all staff employed by the school, mostly former serving personnel in HM Armed Forces.
Contingent Commander, Charlotte O’Connell (former Corporal)
Steve Tavner (Site Manager and former Staff Sergeant)
Sean Banham (Head of Year 7 and former Captain)
Marissa Blofield (Teacher of Science - commission tbc)

How do I join?
By emailing us your name, year group and form class  (if student) or child’s name, year group and form class (if parent) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Or, in person at the Year 7 office where there is a sign up sheet for all year groups. Please knock and ask.
For further information please do not hesitate to contact Mr Tavner, Mr Banham or Mr Mitchell at the school using the email address above.