Apathetic staff and cdts

I’m on a pretty small Sqn, and we’re struggling to get many cdts turn up to VPEs. Small turnout from a small sqn = almost non-existent turnout. It’s getting a bit disheartening to teach a subject to 1 cadet online… we’ve tried the usual (FB, emails to parents+ cdts, I’ve asked the CWO to have quiet words to find out why cdts aren’t turning up, etc etc…). It doesn’t help (and I know behaviour drives behaviour) that, of our very small staff team, there’s similar apparent apathy. OC tries hard but probably doesn’t focus efforts well enough, or is familiar enough with the tech to make things a success (it took him 25 mins to share a powerpoint on Teams last week(!)), and there’s not much fruitful communication - although we all do get on really well. It feels like a vicious circle that I don’t really know how to deal with. WSC probably wouldn’t be much help for various reasons…

This might be just shouting into the void, but it’d be interesting to hear how other people who’ve seen this have managed it…

You can’t force them to attend…if I’m really honest i would just stop putting stuff on but ensuring stuff being run at wing level or by other Sqns is being shared and communicated to so they atleast have something to dial into if they so wish

I’m not in any position of power, I do relatively little prep - it’s just frustrating seeing it from the sidelines (and yes, I know the standard answer to that would be “get more involved” somehow, but time commitments / other pressures etc etc come into play).

Adapt what your doing?

Are you doing one night / two nights?

Are you doing normal parade hours or have you shorten then?

Have you thought interactive activity over powerpoint?

Have you thought about what day your doing your VPNs? Often by Friday the cadets (and staff) are screened out

Do your nights have a purpose, do they link from one to the next, or are they stand alone

Have you thought about dual hosting? We have one host and one present - so that the “teacher” doesn’t have to share the relevant piece and can concentrate on teaching/interacting even when things go wrong. The “presenter” can then focus on hitting it and making it work.

Invite other Sqns? Get your cadets meeting other cadets.

Sector stuff?

I’m with Paracetamol on this. Contact your sector commander and get engaged via your OC with other Sqns. Being a small unit just means others can help out without it drawing on their resources. Most Sqns would help you out.

Good luck.

I changed the thread title. You did mean apathetic right?

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oops, congratulations on spotting my typo!

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Yeh, I’ve suggested sector stuff / joint nights with a neighbouring sqn - but the OC just doesn’t seem keen, and I’ve got no idea why not. He’s not a great communicator at the best of times, even less so when trying to use technology he doesn’t understand.

We’re only doing 1 night a week anyway - and yeh, I know lots of us get tired of video calls (I certainly do - it hasn’t been unknown for me to have used Teams, Zoom, and GoToMeeting all in the same day for work).

I’ve been sending OC / Adj / TrgOff links to all the Bader General Teams channels for ideas but it feels like herding cats to a watering hole and making them drink.

Maybe I should just push the Sector route again with OC / Adj

I had a chat with a number of non-cadets last week, school years 8-12. They have 5 hours of virtual lessons per day. Plus an additional 2-3 hours of “homework”. I thought this might be one Uber organised school. But its not. Since Easter 4 of our local schools have adopted this method.

Frankly, if I was in that age group, the thought of attending a VPN for fun would not excite me in the least, especially having done at least 5 hours in front of a PC being taught during the day!!

I would push the sector stuff and any wing training courses. Let those who are keen attend. You can’t force them to. And nor can you force your staff too either.


I don’t think it’s trying to force cdts to attend (and the staff do attend), more so that I’m jealous of friends on units (in different Wings / Regions) where they’re still getting 50 - 75% attendance, and seeing humble brags on the Teams VPE group from Sqns getting 80 cdts on a single call, and wondering if there’s anything simple we can do to improve our attendance, or if it’s something cultural somehow that will need some massive changes

We’ve had guest speakers in from all over the show talking about some fascinating and high profile things, and we’re still only just getting about a third of our unit showing up.

Some areas are just less engaged, don’t take it personally.

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We’ve had reasonable engagement with VPE’s… but coming up with ideas is starting to get harder… especially avoiding death by PowerPoint.

It’s been pretty tough getting cadets to try and engage beyond just turning up; any extra picture competitions etc our nco’s have completely ignored - the younger ones have been keener.

Trying to wrap up CVQO TPD award has been a nightmare… we’re Told to try and keep things like that alive but I have four older cadets and not a single one will make an effort with it… but nothing you can do about it!


80 on a single call is a crazy number unless it’s a guest speaker

We limit ours to 15 max no matter what the numbers (Squadrons sat at 60, regular attendance prior to lock down between 35-40)

I wouldn’t compare to others, everyone is doing differently some will work some won’t work. Some are working now but will burn out, others started slow (bit like yourselves) but are now picking up.

In terms of your OC - how are they doing, not in terms of being an OC but as a person. Are they struggling, are they feeling too much pressure - especially if they don’t get technology, Has their day job work gone up dramatically? I know mine has, have they got family who are ill, or at risk, or have at risk jobs? are they seeing /talking to other squadron and feeling just as disappointed as you?

I worry for a lot of our OCs out there - the pressure has massively increased, and even if the chain of command is saying only do what you can - the expectation because your “at home” is more than ever. The expectation from some parents, some cadets, some staff can just feel too much. OCs are human too :slight_smile:

Four suggestions maybe to assist both you, and your cadets without adding the extra pressure:

  1. Give a date you can do, and you have time to plan in the run up and offer to run the evening. Personally I will never turn a staff member away if the offer - even if it’s only one night in 3 months.

  2. build a quiz up - using Microsoft forms, or Kahoot I think a lot use. In your spare time over the next couple of weeks. Then say to your OC that you’ve been working on it and would they like to use it on night, or use it to set a competition

  3. Advertise other squadron daily/weekly competitions / challenges to the cadets. A small thing that might keep them interested. Ive seen Beaconsfield is doing a daily one open to anyone, I’ve seen a Scottish wing doing one open to everyone, I’ve seen a CWO Challenge floating around - not sure if that’s open to anyone. But have a dig around social media, see what you can find!

  4. Whilst your digging around social media spot the different styles of evenings - there’s so many out there. Then (using Bader email) ask if you can sit in on one that interests you. I’ve sat in on a couple of different squadrons, and I’ve had a couple of random staff (literally from all over) sit on mine.

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if it helps our Squadron has done one event - a quiz.

we asked our Cadets (via FB survey) what they wanted and outcome was “no thanks we’re fine” I suspect in reaction to what Batfink has indicated - they already had a handful of hours sat in front of VPNs for school - why do it with Cadets too?

now you could argue that pre-Covid, they would sit in a classroom for a handful of hours at school then come to us twice a week and sit in a classroom - but as we know the RAFAC is more than just teaching, it is a “youth club” and has a social element which is not possible to achieve via VPNs

I don’t have an answer or magic solution to fix your woes, but i can say that the clutural approach at your unit is not as unique as you think. yes there are units (and Wings) with dozens of people on a call, but there will be the same number again who haven’t done anything that week for their Cadets


I don’t know quite why at this moment people are so keen it seems to say “look what I’m doing/I’ve done”, for what is in effect in terms of timing a bog standard parade night. I’ve never been impressed by this attitude in the old normal, even less so now and even less likely to try and mimic. I am getting a very strong sense that enthusiasm for the virtual parades is dwindling, as cadets are getting fed up with
@ccw34 I’m not sure there a will or a need for massive changes cultural or otherwise, unless of course this becomes an annual event, in which case then there would need to a proper lead from the top in what and how we do things, get them earning their salt As opposed to giving people a toy box (teams) and just told to play. But as it is this is I expect a one off, so we should “enjoy the silence” and sunshine and as said the cadets are getting this online from school. I would say 99% of what we are is a themed youth “club”, like so many things people do outside or work/school where the face to face social interaction is all important. As and when we go back in whatever way I’m sure we’ll go back to a version of the old ways and lose the time and space we are currently being blessed with.

Strange way of looking at social media interaction - i always post what we do on a parade night, both now and before lock down.

Showing people the “normal” means we aren’t hiding anything, and expectations of people joining aren’t unrealistic. Why just celebrate the highest highs why not the normal evening?

In terms of Teams it’s bigger than Air Cadets, the Military as a whole now has to use it. It can be a very useful tool, and as with most things “playing” with it will give you the best results

Really sympathise with this! Shortening, alternating evenings and joining other squadrons has helped a bit, but needing to work on senior cadet stuff, and staff morale - the “virtual pub” afterwards is helping! OC may worry it’s hard to get cadets back once you start combining… Trying to focus on non-computer stuff - remembering a Great Escape exercise in corps history! Cadets have a huge range of home problems, IT access and privacy etc… Trying to buy flags for them to mark off their home parade time/space… Virtual Nijmegen?! If Colonel Tom can do it…