Classification training - why do we still bother?



There is a bit of me which wonders why we bother with classifications now. The actual requirement to learn has been diminished over the years to the point where it is now non existent but now the irony is they can get a formal qualification. I recall my CO telling me there were arguments as to whether or not certain subjects could be used as a replacement for subjects if you wanted to join the RAF, but the RAF said no. But now a L2 BTEC with no rigour could well be used to get a job anywhere, oh the irony.
The daft thing is now they haven’t even got a point where there are pass, credit and distinctions anymore, just a pass, although unless they change the exam system, giving anymore than a pass would be pointless.


Out of curiosity, what would you replace classifications with?

It would create some significantly large gaps in the training programme in the winter months.


But would it really? With the shear depth of the PTS I reckon I could quite easily fill 2 nights a week without classification training. I have to work bloody hard just to find enough space in the programme to fit classification training in.


I must be doing the training programme wrong! I am still quite new in the role though! Haha :joy:


I think we could have the classification system but broken down into particular subject areas and treat it like say the PTS, but unlike PTS not have things that have to be done off squadron or with at least one other squadron, as seems to be the case.
The joy of the classification system is that it is all done at the squadron, no sodding around having to fit things around other squadrons or at Wing. Which is a major failing of PTS, cadets progress so far and then you need to involve someone else or wait until some external thing comes up, by which time they’ve forgotten and or lost interest. I would concentrate on land nav and aeronautics. With a GST type thing for new cadets that is done in 6 weeks.
I would farm out First Aid to St John/St Andrew and BRC with a view to including their cadets in things we do, such as expeds and DofE. They can do First Aid training better than us and we can do the exped training etc better than them. There could be a cross over in terms of volunteering between the organisations for DofE.
This would work better if we had a top age of 18, as we wouldn’t need to worry about Staff Cadets.

There is a whole mess of things we could do STEM or STEAM, but they should be funded by HQAC in terms of us buy and they refund. I’m currently researching Lego, Meccano and K’nex as to which would be the best value build system to have for cadets and things we can do where cadets actually make something for themselves or for the squadron, using tools and materials. I would sooner spend weeks out of uniform getting the kids engaged in doing something than turning up in uniform. My only restriction at the moment is cost and space, but I’m tapping up a few people and hope they’ll cough some dosh.
At the moment “STEM” seems to be a bit lost as we overall don’t have the kit to do things or the time to do them. I was chatting to someone who turned out to their school’s STEM coordinator (not from any of the local schools unfortunately) and it seems to almost be skies the limit in terms of what they do / can do.
What I quite like about “STEAM” is that it incorporates all aspects of the manufacturing process as it includes art and design and brings a true workplace teamworking ethic, so some do the design and some do the making. Then as the makers get on with it, they may find they need to get the design team involved as something doesn’t work and rather than try and do this in a night or two, it takes as long as it takes, just like the real world.


Seems a bit odd to say that you don’t want to do stuff off-sqn, but you do want to rely on a completely external organisation to deliver first aid?


It irks me that we fail to consider what we do as STEM in the first place.
As a STEM Ambassador yes, the idea is to be catapulted into a group and do a discussion about my career or to do a hands on workshop that by and large involves spaghetti and marshmallows or something equally inane.
Without a proper follow up and consolidation such sessions are useless as “STEM”. Yes, they’re fun… but useless!!!
Done right we can incorporate proper STEM learning, with hands on elements into classification training.
For principles of airmanship build a wind tunnel helps to explain the concepts.
For navigation demonstrate a magnetised needle floating on water. Have a proper discussion about magnetic fields.
For first class radio have them research the electromagnetic spectrum and brief back to the class…
You’re only limited by imagination.
Make it a proper learning experience and they won’t need or use google when they log in for an exam.
We have a brilliant STEM/Aviation foundation. We just have to implement it with some style


I feel like not all squadrons are lucky to have things like this or I may be just ignorant to the methods.

I organise my training programme with the staff that I have. We are lucky that we have a big staff team with a wide range skill set but even still we do not have someone who is particularly skilled at STEM subjects. Most of us teach subjects from what we remember as cadets as most of us are under 25.


We don’t, we are building a wind tunnel. On the cheap with balsa wood and a small motor.

YouTube will show you how to magnetise a needle.

You don’t need to be rich, or have the tech already… just some imagination and dedicate some proper time to learning not just using classes as a sausage factory for a badge.

We didn’t do this stuff until a clear out unearthed an ancient book, ACP 16, a guide on making classroom demo models. It seems we have lost something over the years.

Now as a project our cadets are making them!
That’s STEM, and all in feet and inches and balsa wood

We don’t have enough staff, but we manage.


Im with you on this i thinkbwe shoukd utilise the PTs syllabus to dictate classification i.e. you need to get blue on xyz to get leading. Practical learning instead of them sitting through theory lessons that they probablu arent really interestes in.

I believe the army cadets do something similar


My theory was to integrate the current academic syllabus (above first class) in to the PTS system, then have a points-based system to determine classification.

Eg need x points for leading, y points for senior, etc - a points per blue badge, b points for silver, etc.

Could give points for camps, AT, FT etc too.


Sounds like a great idea


Got to still have first class though…
That provides the basic grounding for life as an Air Cadet!


Agreed - that’s why my suggested system would start at leading (although I wouldn’t be adverse to requiring a few points in addition to the current syllabus).


Not sure about points for camps and courses unless and only unless the number of places are sufficient for a cadet to say no not this time and know they’ll get a chance in the not too distant future.

The first class can essentially be binned with the exception of RAF and ATC history, which are covered as an interest subject in a couple of weeks and then get onto the “classification” system, which is a mix of theory and practical elements, so that most learning styles are accommodated.


Might aswell bin off comms and do blue radio, bin of iet and map reading and bulk out pre-dofe a bit more


That’s how first class should be covered! With the exception of Airmanship (which can be practical, but only really if a flight sim is available) and History of Flight, which can probably be binned. I would still like to see all cadets have a basic understanding of map reading, comms and IET.


But as stated, that’s just blue badge bits. Just schedule them in as part of a probationer’s training and you’re killing two birds with one stone.

To be fair, that should be being done anyway.


The point of my PTS-based system was that there wouldn’t be a specific syllabus that had to be studied, just that a certain number of scoring quals would have to be done (so someone could get to master without ever doing any more comms training, for example). I think at the basic level though that there should be a common syllabus, so that everyone has the basic grounding.


History of flight if done properly shows the progression to how we got where we are today. People like Cayley and Lillienthal are pivotal in terms of inspiration for the Wrights, and the Montgolfiers along with the likes Charles and de Rozier for lighter than air. But then I’m firmly in the camp that history is important and learning from the mistakes of the past. Let’s be honest we all learn from the balls’ ups we make in the past.
I’ve had cadets do a few balloons with a candle in a jar and sandwich bag in the class. If i was sufficiently skilled I’d like to have a wing warping set up to explain how control surfaces developed.