Cadet units in state schools to increase five-fold with £50 million budget boost

The number of cadet units in state schools is to increase five-fold by 2020, George Osborne announced in the Summer Budget.

Speaking on Wednesday, the Chancellor pledged £50 million to create cadet forces in 500 state schools. Most would be in “less affluent areas”.

Currently there are about 275 cadet units across the UK. Of these, only a third (fewer than 100) are in state schools.

According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), as of April 1 last year there were about 131,000 cadets in the UK, divided between the Combined Cadet Force (42,950), a scheme run through schools, and the Army Cadet Force (41,000).

The Department for Education confirmed that the MoD had made a request for the extra funding.

A Treasury spokesperson told Schools Week the money would not be diverted from schools but would instead come from fines levied on banks.

“In the last government, £450 million was given to support military causes and emergency services. This builds on that repertoire.

“This has been billed as a priority for the government and the initiative was launched by the prime minister in 2012, when he said he would increase the number of cadet units. This will make sure there is the same quality of cadet experience across all schools.”

Last year, David Cameron announced a £1 million bursary scheme for state school cadet units, funded with fines from banks caught up in the Libor rate-fixing scandal.

On top of this bursary, Mr Cameron pledged £11 million in 2012 to set up a further 100 cadet units in state schools by 2015 under the Cadet Expansion Programme (CEP).

The Combined Cadet Force says on its website: “The CEP is part of the Government’s aim of promoting military ethos in schools; to instil values in young people that will help them get the most out of their lives, and to contribute to their communities and country.

“This means pupils developing qualities such as self-discipline, loyalty and respect, strong leadership, teamwork and resilience, which will help them achieve excellence and shape their future.”

Details for the scheme are still minimal. The Summer Budget document states: “CEP £50 million – to increase the number of cadet units in state schools to 500 by 2020.”

The MoD recently faced criticism after Schools Week revealed last month that it had requested access to sensitive data in the National Pupil Database so it could “target its messaging” around military careers.

A spokesperson for ForcesWatch, a campaign group scrutinising army recruitment policies, said: “This is a huge amount of money to fund yet more military activities in schools at the expense of universal provision which is accessible to all students.”

Mr Osborne also announced a public sector pay cap of 1 per cent from 2016 to 2020. The Department for Education has already announced that funding per pupil is to remain the same over this government, and teacher pay remains at the discretion of school leaders and governing bodies.


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  1. State school div

    Err, I think we’d like more teachers, well paid quality teachers, educational resources in schools, and the same access to higher education, career and life choices as mr. Osborne and his privileged buddies. Ie. not have our kids pushed towards the military to become cannon fodder for the elite’s illegal wars and plunder of the worlds resources.. or on the front-lines saving our cosseted leaders’ backsides, pushing back the people that are trying to flee the poverty, ecological disasters, sectarianism, extremism & wars that our unethical international trade policies, carbon & consumer driven economies & imperialism have helped to create. Our kids don’t need ‘follow command without question’ mind sets to make valuable contributions to society. They need to be respected, their opinions heard, their particular talents nurtured and equal opportunity. Patronising and insulting. How stupid do they really think we are?

    • Lorna McAllister

      Well said. Military minded zombies are not required. Our young people are each unique, worthwhile and talented individuals. My function as a teacher was to encourage respect, a love of learning, the value of the talents of every single person whatever their abilities. I tried to fit each student with ‘shit detectors’. This would enable them to spot when someone was selling them a crock of excrement and to be able to justify why this crock was indeed excrement. Conversely they could identify the nugget of gold and know why it was indeed praiseworthy.
      Hopefully, they move to their own rythm. They don’t march in rows towards the slaughter.

    • Shaun

      It’s been proven that a child that has also been in the cadets are better citizens in the future and for every £1 spent on a cadet, that child, once working, gives back over five times the amount spent on them back to the country. And as for the comment from an ex ACF QM and ex Army soldier, I guess signing the official secrets act doesn’t count in your head? This new initiative is to teach young people, values and standards, respect and integrity. It is not a recruiting tool for the forces. People should get facts before spouting garbage.

      • exactly shaun as you say, for every one pound spent on a cadet, 5 goes back to the country. war is the biggest business there is. thats why the government are doing this. you really think values like respect are learnt in millitary school? its obidience that is taught in millitary school

        • Shaun

          Please look up the facts. These are not military schools. These are Schools that can have a “Cadet” unit if they want to. The children are taught, Map Work, Drill and bearing, expedition, Adventurous training, Community engagement, Shooting, and how to live out doors. You seem to imagine this as a direct link into the Military, it is actually a youth organisation, sponsored by the Government.

          • You forgot First Aid – arguably one of the most important things we do. If you have a teenager saving your life, they are probably a cadet!

      • Shaun, what is your source for your claim that ‘It’s been proven that a child that has also been in the cadets are better citizens in the future and for every £1 spent on a cadet, that child, once working, gives back over five times the amount spent on them back to the country’?

        For those of you doubting that the Cadets are a recruiting tool for the armed forces, the MoD stated last year that, “Cadet units are beneficial to both society and for recruitment into the Armed Forces, that is why we want to increase the number of them.” ( Around 23% of the armed forces were in ‘community’ Army, Sea or Air Cadet units, and 20% of officers were in the CCF; with this new, massive expansion of the CCF in disadvantaged state schools, it’s very likely that the current 2% of armed forces coming from the CCF will increase significantly ( It’s also important to note that the MoD’s ‘youth engagement review’ clearly states that alongside recruitment, the main outcome their youth activities have to have is ‘An awareness of the Armed Forces’ role in the world and the quality of its work and people, in order to ensure the continued support of the population’ (

        Lastly, no-one is denying that the Cadets can provide excellent opportunities to young people. The point is that so can many other youth organisations and projects (and without the other agendas that the Cadets have), but they are not receiving anywhere near the same level of funding (for further reading on this, see

        • You are correct that a good portion of the Armed Forces were in cadets before they joined, but you have to remember that in terms of numbers it really isn’t that many people. There are over 100,000 cadets in the UK at any one time but only a tiny tiny fraction of these will actually join the Forces. In 6 years, only 2 from my unit have done so.

          We do get good funding, but this is not a bad thing as it translates to savings for parents. A quick look on scout websites indicates that they pay £50-100 per year plus extra for camps at £30 for a weekend and over £100 for a week. My cadet unit charges £0 per year and our annual camp is £60. Weekend camps are £10-£15. Also, the uniform is free, apart from footwear whereas scouts have to pay.

    • Peter Hilton

      Gosh. Don’t you know SO much about military training? “Follow command without thinking”? Rubbish. All ranks are expected to think. You’re the patronising and insulting one. But hey, crack on. You have the right to freedom of speech. It was purchased for you by the blood of unthinking servicemen and women.

  2. P.Corcoran

    The NAZI party created something similar are the conservatives embracing their ideologies more openly now ? is this going to be a new youth army join or no Benifits why isost fumding in the less well off areas.

    • well. if you read it, you will see that in the afluent areas, they are well catered for ( with ONLY a 3rd, in state schools, which judging by the numbers, is a very low proportion ).

      Everyone whinging about nazis and zombies marching to slaughter. Get a grip…. This is far, from what you have in mind.

    • The Cadet Forces were around long before the Hitlerjugend, and have continued to thrive long after the Hitlerjugend ended in 1945. To compare the Cadet Forces to the Hitlerjugend shows very poor history knowledge on your part and is insulting to everyone who has been a member of the Cadet Forces.

  3. Sandy Allan

    As a former Quartermaster supporting a cadet battalion. The ACF has its place, but certainly not in state schools. This smacks of indoctrination, and will it be mandatory or voluntary? Where will the instructors come from? From within the school?
    I have dealt with enough Walter Mitty characters as it is…
    The cadets use automatic weapons. Where are they going to be stored? Ammo?

    The MoD already have a recruitment shortage within regular & reserve forces. If I tell you I attended a Brigade meeting a few year ago, and the assembled group was told that the army consider the cadets as a part of its operational strength….
    For my part I will never allow my own children to join.
    There are loads of predators within this organisation which is covered up…

  4. Nads Mitch

    My local council budget cuts mean an end to music subsidies for children in state schools from September, meaning a lot of less well off kids will never get to learn the guitar, or the piano or learn to sing. Meanwhile the government has found £50 million to expand the Cadet program in our schools. Says a lot about what they think our kids are for.

  5. Chris Sanders

    It is a shame that most of these comments are written by people who have had no involvement with a cadet organisation. To equate a Cadet Forces to the Nazi Youth is a narrow minded and made without any knowledge of what cadets can achieve. I was a Sea Cadet from 12-18. In that time I learnt self discipline, respect, how to present myself with confidence, leadership and a whole host of other life skills. All this whilst the added bonus of taking part in a multitude of activities which I would not have had access to otherwise. Yes I learned weapons handling techniques, how to shoot and obey orders but at no point was I converted into a Nazi or “cannon fodder”.
    I in fact got so much out of the cadets that after reaching 18 I spent the next 12 years as an adult instructor. In this time I saw many cadets enter the unit as unruly, undisciplined and with low self esteem. Through the encouragement, engagement and teaching from adult instructors (on the most part unpaid volunteers)many of these young people gained valuable life skills that would benefit them in civilian life as they grew up.
    I think that putting aside money for cadet organisations is a fantastic idea the big flaw with this plan is to use the money to start up new in schools. In pretty much any town or city you will find SCC, RMC, ACF or ATC. Why not put more money into these already established organisations.

    • martin

      Im an ex acf cadet and officer and can also see the positives for young people.Thing is cadets in ordinary units cant go outside into public areas to train and cant travel in uniform, terrorism threats. I think thats why they are choosing the security of schools to place the investment.

  6. So, with education grants scrapped and benefits denied, you useless eaters who aren’t forced into debt-slavery or serfdom (‪#‎workfare‬), can instead become cannon-fodder for the New World Order, Queen and Country.

    Oh and don’t forget to buy your souvenir copy of the Sun, with pics of the new ”royal” baby and Union Jack, while you’re being treated like animals….

  7. I think a lot of people are missing the positive points in this.

    I have lived in a very poor and definitely non-affluent area north of Liverpool for 35 years. I was never afforded many opportunities, as we had none available.

    Joining my local air cadet squadron was the best thing i ever did.

    I had opportunities to try new things and it helped me develop character and life skills crucial for me later on. I gained respect for myself and others, learnt self-discipline, leadership skills and responsibility. I subsequently returned to the air cadets as a volunteer and am now commanding officer of a squadron providing the same opporunities to local young people.

    Certainly a small cross section of cadets i grew up with joined the armed forces, not to be cannon fodder, but because they were proud to wear a uniform and serve their country. The majority of everyone else have careers with the emergency services, positions of responsibility within business and industry and all attribute positive aspects to skills and development they had gained and received as a cadet.

    My volunteering with a cadet unit has also led me to change careers, and i have now qualified as a secondary school teacher. Whilst i can see an impact on having additional cadet units in local schools to my unit (I have 2 local schools already with CCF units in my area of Merseyside), it can only be beneficial in helping schools to turn out more well rounded citizens who are able to tackle lifes increasing difficulties with ambition, drive and a correct moral compass. Think Duke of Edinburghs award, but with more opportunities for development and reward.

    If anyone still thinks this is all about cannon fodder and driving our children to just one thing, I challenge you to go and spend some time with a local volunteer cadet unit and see what they actually do.

    Rant over!

  8. John Craig

    Looking at Sandy Allan’s input here as the most pertinent; looking at the map supplied is very pertinent. In a troubled world there is no harm in having a population with the ability to defend itself and I would suggest you look at the Swiss experience in this. I do not for one minute condone exposing our children to the military machine, but voluntary training in the use of small arms for mature citizens would be of some benefit. Defence of the realm is an area where the Scottish government are singularly silent. Tiny Switzerland can put a staggering 250,000 assault rifles in the field within the hour and with a similar number available shortly thereafter shows any aggressor a ferocious set of fangs for minimal cost.

  9. For those of you who thing that this is “horrifying” or that cadet forces are training kids for war, I strongly encourage you to contact your local cadet unit(s) and ask to visit for a night or two to see what actually goes on. Talk to the cadets about what they do. They are not mindless zombies, they are young people doing something positive in their spare time.

    • Are these young people learning how to wear smart uniforms, marching,physical training for survival tactics and following the orders of those who they believe they are their superiors and who believe they are their superiors?? “In Commonwealth countries, including the United Kingdom, a cadet is a member of one of the cadet forces. In the United Kingdom these are the Combined Cadet Force, the Sea/Royal Marine Cadets, Army Cadets and the Air Training Corps. Military officers in training are called officer cadets.” Not much confusion there.

      • 1. Yes.
        2. Yes.
        3. No.
        4 & 5 depends on your point of view. We are their “superiors” in the same way that my manager is my “superior” at work. No one implied we are better than them.

        None of this actually describes what cadets do though. If you think it is you should go and find out before passing judgement.

  10. You don’t have to learn to march and wear shiny shoes to learn self discipline.

    Qualified climbing instructors and outdoor educationalists can offer the same thing….they do not need to be based in schools.

    The idea that you need to be part of the armed forces to achieve what is supposed to be on offer is none sense.

  11. Andrew Paul

    I have a query about weapons training and countering extremism. If I were an advocate of extremism, I might encourage this free training offer. What safeguards are there?

  12. Alf Clark


    The quaker argument…using religious indoctrination to impose your beliefs on people that don’t share yours especially on a youth organisation that promotes religious freedom. The head concerned imposed her religious views on learners,parents and governors to remove a CCF that had been at the school longer than the teacher had been born. Oh how very liberal…
    The teacher knows better than the pupil and parent argument. Parents give consent for the cadets to attend activities and have a veto. Since cadets volunteer and the parents give their approval it is extremely dangerous territory that some here seem to think they know better.
    The Hitler youth argument. Oh if I could have a penny. The cadets trace their history back to private schools and esteemed social activists such as Octavia Hill in 1859. I suggest if they were going to manifest into a distinct politically indoctrinated organisation it would have happened by now. Due to the diversity in the cadets which I have heard compared to the glee club I think this is unlikely. Adult instructors have better things to do such as reams of paperwork and a syllabus that doesn’t include politics. Also the comparison by logical conclusion means that some who think that the cadets are the Hitler youth think that the army is the SS. A slur on the hundreds of thousands of British soldiers who fought to eradicate that….However I have come to expect no less.
    Money on teachers. An excellent answer accept that as an intelligent teacher you would actually know that in the scheme of things that 50 Million is small beer and schools will actually waste that and more in a year just skipping old IT equipment. This money will enable children in schools some of which are in the most deprived areas of the UK to do things they could otherwise have only dreamed of. Flying pilots license,boat skipper,annual camp in America if it’s safe the MOD will consider it or there perhaps is already a course. To suggest the school should just by in bland adventure training is actually extremely expensive and wasteful where as you could have your staff attend cadet adventure training instructor courses with recognised civilian awards and reap the benefits.
    The scouts argument. Lt General Sir Baden Powell….hello! Set up as scouts in South Africa and had an unapologetic military theme that the scouts have tried to shake. Nothing against Scouts but they charge a lot and are the poor relation in some of the activities that are offered. Besides surely it’s the child’s choice Scouts cadets football d of e play station etc.
    The ACF QM suggestion of grooming. I must have just dreamed the maths teacher going to Paris and the jailed female teacher….grooming and inappropriate relationships can form in any youth groups and academic environments thankfully the vast majority of teachers or staff spot it and report it. Cadet staff in school are subject to same HR process as teachers and school staff and many are school staff. As for armouries and logistics this displays the lack of lustre and imagination you probably had as a QM and quite frankly you are best out to pasture and I hope the grass is sharp.
    Children deserve every chance they can get especially some of the most deprived areas. I am sure Tom stops back after school to help the under achievers in philisophy rather than racing home to sip on his pinot grigio and do his ‘marking’. For the staff that actually do care and offer after school activities no matter what they are…here’s to you!

  13. there are some rather aggressively sarcastic remarks contained within this discussion that seem to me to illustrate th every strong feelings associated..quite rightly with this topic/news..
    What i have maybe missed in these opinions is the effect of the subliminal what does it say at levels hard to define/quantffy to children when -for example-instrumental music instruction is removed/reduced and cadet-membership funded an available?some of th writers pointed out some very positive aspects of cadet experience-yet i wonder if they have thought about how these same qualities may be gained/experienced oUTSIDE military-bashed organisations?In sweden for example, where teens do national service, they may choose military oR NOT-and sweden remains a country with a human rights record to be respected..
    now, any one reading this may say-great and of course ‘jOINING CADETS WILL BE VOLUNTARY,,”..but…where -partly due to preferential funding, it is likely-for lots of reasons-that joining will look attractive(i wonder if kids will be excused from other classes for cadet-events for example in the future?) regardless of overtly-stated aims…tHere ar many many better ways to “address imbalance” between not only private and state schools, abut from school -to-school in different way that springs to mind is to increase funding for tEACHERS in school so as to provide more one-to-one support..Providing what it is impossible to dissociate from th military as a possible means to teach obedience(with whatever level of encouraging independence e.g. through all those great physical activities that encourage so many in-to wHAT END LOGICALLY ONCE IN THE ARMY-very sADLY?) seems arguably clumsy tool in comparison with more teachers and support fro children as they negotiate their way through what is such a violence-fuelled world for all too many…

  14. There are different ways to help young people serve their communities, build skills and develop self-esteem. There is a wonderful international peace education scheme called PeaceJam, that uses the moral example of Nobel Peace Prize winners, who work with the young people directly at events and whose lives form the basis of curricular materials. We can supply class-room ready, OFSTED compliant, comprehensive teaching materials that addresses issues such as social action and resilience for young people without uniforms or drills. Check out

  15. Carolyn Wallace

    Cameron’s brown shirts?
    The money would be better spent on more faculties, teachers, a change of the present stilted curriculum, art, music, drama.. And all the activities that make a rounded, educated human being.
    Anything over can go back to the disabled, sick, homeless and low paid in our communities.