Ideas for speeding up 1st class badge

Hi, how do you do your 1st class badges?
I have been in the Corps for a 25 years or and have found the 1st class books have got really slow in completing. This leads to low morale a bit as the cadets want to get on. As we are doing the other activities in between, this slows it down even more.
It takes majority of the Sqns at least 6-8months to complete it if you are lucky and although it has some really interesting activities. I wondered whether it could somehow be done quicker. Does anyone have any ideas? I have given some of the more reliable ones the book to complete at home, and do the practical stuff with us. But that makes the others behind.
If the powers that be are on here maybe we could change it so that say map reading could go into the basic Nav, we refresh it anyway. Or something like that?
Majority of the time we only do the pass bit, although there are merit bits we do as well as there seem relevant.

We do our intake in September and have a three day recruit camp in November. By the end of that they have completed first class and done some basic fieldcraft.

4 Likes

We run first class training days on weekends. Usually two a quarter.

If cadets attend those and regularly attend squadron they should complete first class in around three months which we feel is long enough for them to have an idea of how everything works but not so long that they lose interest.

2 Likes

I’d second the concept of weekend training… It can leave gaps to fill in usual training program but gets it done so they can do the fun stuff

3 Likes

There is a book available on Cadet Direct which I’ve seen help cadets complete the qualification quicker. My Wing bought 10 copies for each squadron and we use them regularly, and especially if a cadet was absent when something was covered and needs to catch up. They are a little pricey (but isn’t everything on Cadet Direct?) but good quality.

1 Like

Great ideas. I have not really thought of doing weekends as I find a lot of staff dont seem to to want to do them, I only see my partner at weekends. I will put them to the others and see maybe if we could do it as a sector. We used to do a basic camp where we did all the exped and map reading stuff. But since the Covid pandemic its stopped. Also all the paperwork.

Perhaps split it into non residential days. Then staff can just come in to teach ‘their’ subject so they don’t have to commit a whole weekend.

With the issues getting accommodation on the defence estate more units are doing this down our way.

5 Likes

This.

That’s how we do it. Might be one or two staff who stay all day but most pop in and out.

We’ve got a 16wk programme that completes it, but also allows for the recruits to mix with the rest of the squadron on a regular basis. We can do it in just under 3 months if we pushed it.

Taking more than 6 months is insane.

We do a maximum of 8 Saturdays a combination of mornings or afternoons depending on staff availability as well as parade nights. The longer sessions are used for IET and mapwork practical stuff, drill and a session for uniform, but we also do a catch up for things if they are missed. We get older cadets to come along to act as assistants. This gets around committing for whole days or weekends.
If the cadets do the majority of parade nights and Saturday sessions, they’re done in 3 months. We used to take longer which is why we started the Saturday sessions, as

  1. the staff and or cadets don’t attend every evening, whereas the longer sessions they tend to
  2. you can plan to do something in a more focussed manner with minimal disruption. By which I mean on a Saturday you’re less likely to get someone call or ‘pop in’.
    For me as OC, I’ve forgotten the number of times I start a lesson and within a few minutes or so something happens that means you stop, so a clear run at 4 hours with a 15 minute break is good. Not saying that things happen a lot, seemingly just when I’m down to instruct.
1 Like

For those suggesting weekend activities, when do you give these dates to the cadets? Do you tell them when they join that they’re expected to attend, or after they join? If after, what happens if they don’t go?

They have to wait for the next ones. We can only provide the opportunities, can’t make them attend them.

One training day is a Saturday and the other is a Sunday in case they have regular commitments on one of those days. If they have genuine issues attending weekend activities we can find an alternative.

1 Like

Completed both residential and day courses.

A residential does also give the cadets the experience of how to behave and what to expect from a camp also. (eating in a mess, Marching about, room inspections, polish and ironing uniforms the night before…).

Residential is also a good one for sectors, as you can get multiple staff and deliver a great training experience to the cadets. Take some experienced cadet NCOs along to be flight Commanders.

Day courses depends on what is required to catch up.

Drill

If it’s IET, we can get tents and rucksacks out, and aren’t as restricted on times (got to get it all packed away by 2100…), or light.

Radio, allows us to get the practical elements done, maybe with a small map based exercise (Spell at Grid 123, 456…),so combining map reading and radio into a confirmation exercise.

More Drill

Airmanship. Time on the flight sim. Again not restricted by other parade night stuff.

More Drill

In short, we tend to use the weekends for the more practical elements, and means that the small staff team we have can focus on those elements, and not get pulled away because Cdt Bloggs parents want to discuss an event coming up next month, or the civ comm want a chat, or the padre has popped in… Or any other reason that stops us delivering.

We also offer parade night sessions where it’s a catch up. “Cdt Smith and Cdt Bob needs P1, P6 and P8 of Airmanship signed off.” off they go to a session with an NCO or staff member. Another catch up could be happening in another classroom, say map reading.

2 Likes

Sounds like a solid and scale able model

1 Like

Especially when we already have 12 cadets signed up for the November intake.

1 Like

Bit difficult when you recruit 40 at a time though

#HumbleBrag :wink:

4 Likes

You get bigger numbers when you only recruit once(ish) per year.

1 Like

Yes, we run a recruit intake evening where we have parents down as well. We set expectations on what is required and set the dates for the training weekend. During the recruiting process we also set these dates. Our training weekend is non residential.