Students at King’s Hawthornes Share their Cadet Experience
October 1, 2019
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October 24, 2019
Kate Kershaw and Peter Kilroy with the Royal Marines

The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) has flourished at King’s Hawthornes over the past two years with many students becoming part of the Royal Marine family.  Lead by the newly appointed Ted Roberts, the CCF has a team of skilled trainers who run the weekly instruction and facilitate regular field trips.

Back in 2017 to ensure the initiative was a success Kate Kershaw, Mathematics teachers, and Peter Kilroy, PE teacher were approached to help train the initial group of 12 students from across Year 9,10 and 11.  Kate already had a background in running the Duke of Edinburgh Award and a love of the outdoors and walking, and Peter felt that his passion for physical training would stand him in good stead.  Both teachers felt it would provide them with an opportunity to build relationships with students in a different context.

Kate remembers, ‘We headed off to the Marine Training Camp in Limpston Plymouth over the Easter holidays for a week of intensive training in weaponry, supervising and leadership, modeling and safety.  It was a brilliant experience although daunting at times.  We were completely out of our comfort zone with so many new skills and strange terminology to master.’

Peter agrees, ‘The training was intense but gave us a real insight into the Royal Marines and the scope of the organisation.  We were trained by an ex-Royal Marine sniper who took us out for several nights in the field where we were set missions and took part in night patrols.  We were completely immersed in another world surrounded by Royal Marines who willingly shared stories, experiences and advice with us.’

Since then Kate and Peter have continued to develop their skills alongside the students and were promoted this year to second lieutenant. 

Benefits to Staff

When asked what they have learnt from the experience Kate says, ‘Being part of the CCF has made me appreciate new ways of learning: the set structure; the practical instruction; learning outdoors.’  Peter goes on to say, ‘It has allowed me to see how professionals work in another context and to experience the precision and direct instruction used by this elite organization.’

Benefits to Students

The Combined Cadets Force has a long tradition of working with schools within the private sector however recently they have started expanding into the state school sector with amazing results. 

‘The CFF allows students to forge relationships with peers outside of their usual friendship groups and encourages younger pupils to aspire.  Many of the older students take on leadership roles which younger cadets can work towards and everyone experiences being part of a valued team.  There is a strong sense of family which the students really embrace,’ explains Peter.

Kate goes on to say, ‘Our students get to experience residentials; some have never even camped in the outdoors and suddenly find themselves sleeping under a bibby in the countryside!  It’s fantastic for their well being to get out into nature and teaches them how to de-stress.’

The CCF supports the development of character and leadership in schools and is a perfect fit with the ASPIRE values practiced at King’s Hawthornes.  Effort and endeavour are rewarded and the students develop strong life skills such as respect, responsibility, accountability and perseverance. 

Kate says, ‘The Royal Marines want you to do a great job, they want you to be the best you can be and it is wonderful to see the difference in the students as they develop respect in themselves and confidence in their abilities.’

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