One parade evening a week

Since COVID our squadron’s doors have only been open one night a week.

Honestly, mostly it’s been because adj and the OC both hold wing/region level responsibilities and frankly cannot commit more than that.

Interestingly, we have discovered a focussed approach hasn’t affected being able to have a varied syllabus, opportunities, the cadets are happy. Parents are happy. Staffing can be a struggle as majority first responder/shift worker.

Interestingly our 1 night a week is attracting potential transferring staff and cadets who are after a means to “be RAFAC without feeling over-stretched”.

In one year a sqn with started with only 3 cadets now has 30. Has been hitting all the milestones you’d expect for each cadet’s experience.

Now in “summer shutdown” to help us consolidate, rest, and avoid being overstretched in Camp season we again approach the question…

SHOULD we push up to 2 nights a week.
IF we do what does an extra night a week actually gain?

Appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

FYI 1 year progress on 1 night a week:
9 cadet camp places (AT, blue, RIAT, leadership)
18 first class
3 leading
3 senior
3 Master
8 blue DofE
10 bronze DofE
2 gold DofE
10 heartstart
15 EFA
15 Blue leadership
2 gold leadership
2 L98 trained shot
16 flying/gliding experiences
External interest visits (sqn generated)

We would lose cadets if we dropped to one night a week. Several have other (mainly sporting) commitments. Some staff can only attend one night a week. We still have 50+ on the books.

Having said all of that, if one night a week works for you……

3 Likes

It’s down to availability of staff - as you have seen one night a week can be very successful but won’t for everyone

I think we have to manage attendance expectation more - so for me I expect a “regular” attendance therefore if you choose to do one night a week despite us parading twice you won’t be penalised.

We even had a cadet that chooses to do 1 week on 1 week off.

You started your premis with this statement.

Perhaps if this were fixed then the question would be moot.

Focus on getting staff in, upskilled and confident.
Then the Sqn can move forward from a position of strength, rather than consolidated retreat.

2 Likes

I would love 3 days a week for our sqn which could possibly mean we get more, or all staff down and more cadets. I’m the only present on both nights as staff and the vast majority of our cadets either do night one or two. Night three in the middle for a trial of a month or so would be something I’d like us to try…but I can’t see that happening :frowning:

why not… many squadrons choose to have a third evening(or weekend morning etc) for band practices, drill team practices etc…
If you think it could work, why not talk to your OC/Adj/Trg Off about the pros and cons and what you would do.

2 Likes

do you operate intakes? id be interested to see how the annual training programme is structured.
only because I know my sqn would struggle with two intakes a year of first class on one night, so maybe your condensing in a way we can learn from.

1 Like

Yes, which has been necessary with only one evening a week. The unit never had an intake policy previously, and has settled on a Sept, Jan, Apr intake over the last year. This will be reviewed annually, if there’s not a large enough waiting list then we would wait for a later intake date.

The upshot is, there is absolutely no need to fully focus on “just classifications” and we have found it best to augment the syllabus in such a way as to integrate things like stove use, map skills, leadership, radio etc. alongside the syllabus learning of the sqn.

The primary issue is even if new staff are introduced… working in a staffing bottom up process won’t release both oc and adj to their primary roles any time soon.

2 Likes

… i dont know any sqn who does this.

Not any that are either.
A. Still open.
B. Have any cadets.

Thems the breaks…

Sometimes it takes long hard yards to put a sqn back together.

#5 year plan

1 Like

Agreed! Sadly, in my current RAFAC capacity I see a massive range of what people count as a quality programme…!

I guess one night a week has required us to be targeted, focused and to use our time well. I guess the same sort of effect some people found when they switched to WFH, what happens in a distraction free manner?

OC needs to retire, Adj really does need to time to focus on region role…

Both very much understand that the volunteer pool is shallow though, so are stretching themselves rather thin.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with 1 night a week and it’s an interesting point, I think I may shift to that as standard during school holidays, as it gives the staff a break / time to plan & prep for future.

Bottom line, if you have the staff to do what you offer and the kids enjoy and are retained you are winning.

1 Like

Quality not quantity is my mantra for most things.

5 Likes

I think the bottom line here is this.

If the Sqn in question can only function presently at 1 night per week for what ever reason.
Then 1 night per week os better than none or shutting the unit.

The focus must be on receuitment of volunteers, their upskilling and development.
At this point and not before can a reasoned argument about whether to have 1 or 2 nights per week can take place. At the minute you seem not to have the choice.

Anything else sounds and forgive me, but merely looking for reasons to justify current situation.

Its worth noting that, in the last 10 years, for Sqn OCs the situation has become increasingly difficult and often desperate.
The rules of HQAC, admin burden and alike have only taken time from the ‘real work’ of inspiring youth.

Perhaps in your region capacity, the prioroty should be to make this understood at HQAC level.

That is assuming that HQAC wishes to have continued gainful employment… sometimes i actually wonder.

Good luck. Its not easy.

My first unit, before I left it did this. Got my lanyard under the old syllabus within 18m…

But my word it was boring.

1 Like

While seemingly not the case for you as you have found a balance, if this were anywhere else the argument should be that they shouldn’t have taken the region role if it removes that much focus from their primary position. And/or, if it does require that much time, that the region role is then a primary role, not secondary.

He he… it hasn’t been that way around.
More an emotive situation in not letting a childhood Squadron close its doors.

And as ever, supposed to be a short term-stopgap measure and now we are 15 months later…

Mostly we are looking to understand if 2 nights a week is something we MUST pursue. A year ago we hoped to be standing up to the traditional 2 nights a week within 6-8months, but the status quo hasn’t been able to shift.

In secondary we have been interested to note that a single evening a week seems to be attractive to staff and cadets outside of our current unit numbers.

Therefore- returning to the original question. Should we hang our hat on trying to open to 2 nights a week, or is there actually merit to this 1 night a week status?

I’ve volunteered in places that do 2 nights and 1. I feel that 1 night is an easier ‘sell’ to volunteers and fits better with the young people especially in exam years.

Flip side to 1x week was more weekend activities which some like, some don’t.

Afaik there is nothing in writing anywhere that says you must.

If you’ve found a balance that works for you and your cadets, keep doing it :+1:

1 Like