Parade nights - number of


We’ve just had our first parade after the summer hols where we only parade once a week and have done for many years. I find it really good to not have to worry about 2 nights a week for 6/7 weeks and gives me a chance to relax. We always get a good cadet turnout; family holidays etc notwithstanding over the holiday periods.

I have been asked why we don’t parade just once a week all the time. I wasn’t able to answer with anything meaningful. Over the years cadets not turning up due to homework, other school commitments, other extra curricular groups etc so end up rescheduling or repeating things or cadets missing out.

Having thought about it I feel you would have a much more meaningful training programme and could arrange things for other nights in the week. Also I can see a definite advantage in terms of staff, not having to do 2 nights a week and might make actually being staff more pleasurable. I get a feeling we are very much in the minority in terms of youth groups that meet twice a week. I know of three scout groups that meets once a fortnight and all the others at most weekly.

When 2 of our children did athletics they trained once a week and our son played football and trained once a week, more than that and he wouldn’t have done both. I know of 5 cadets currently who do at least 1 activity and 2 that are involved in 2 or more other things (4 of these are NCOs) in addition to the ATC as they miss a number of nights where they involve performances. This is something I have been aware of for years ie cadets doing more than just ATC. The sorts of things I’ve been made aware of are; martial arts, football clubs, rugby clubs, swimming clubs, music (orchestra), dance, drama/acting, horse riding, Scouts seem to be the main ones and one lad who rode a scrambler competitively.

I am tending towards giving one night a week a proper go, but not too sure what to do if it doesn’t work out. I know that every time we have an intake at least one parent will ask if they have to do both nights and it’s these we don’t see for very long afterwards.

Do any others have thoughts on this? This would make it easier where cadet units share facilities.


Other than “We’ve always done it” (everybody’s old favourite) I could only say that 2 hours once a week would make it difficult to achieve the minimum 12 hours per month.


We also dropped to one night a week over the Summer holidays and I’ve had the same thoughts.

Only myself and one other member of staff do both of our Parade nights, the rest are CIs who either do the Monday or the Thursday but not both nights because of other commitments - family, work, other hobbies. It was lovely over the Summer not to have to rush back out of the house 30 minutes after getting home on two nights a week.

We also have a number of Cadets who take part in other activities during the week - martial arms, rugby, football etc and will often miss a parade night because of things clashing or they’ve got behind with homework and the one that gets missed is the second parade night as the parents think they’ve already attended once that week.

I have run a Squadron that met one night a week, the same staff team ran the Sqn and DF so the Staff did two nights a week but the Cadets just one night and we didn’t feel the training program suffered, the Cadets got the same opportunities and we had excellent attendance by the Cadets.

It seems to be a traditional thing in the Cadets to parade two nights a week, maybe it’s something that needs to be looked at and supported if Squadrons do want to move to one night a week?


We run 2 nights a week which provides flexibility for those with conflicting activities and lets them attend when they are able.

We keep running at the same level over the summer but moderate the programme based on anticipated turnout.


this was brought up once at a staff and NCO meeting a few months back.
it usually is every now and again by a newly aged 18 cadet as our second night is a Friday.

the general consensus was that they wanted 2 nights a week, some of them also do scouts and BB, they felt everything was crammed into 2hrs there where as with the cadets there was more flexibility over 2 nights.
we do our program so that 1 night is mostly classification then the other more practical so its not all book bashing…


As some have said it’s the “we’ve always done it like that” or it’s traditional.
Which both seem a little bit lame.

Maybe back in dim and distant when there weren’t the distractions there are now, 2 nights a week was probably fine. But this is 2017 not 1940 and the world has moved on.

As for it will be a squeeze to fit it all in or it allows them doing other things to do them and still do cadets. However do we have or try and do too much or expect results too quickly and doing one night a week would focus on the things we need to do, not do because it fills time.

This I feel is what has prompted the question to me and made me question what we do and why. I do look forward to the school summer holidays every year as it gives me another night for me and the wife to go out, rather than just at the weekend when places are more crowded.

Comments that it would become all book work, why? As it is we do one night a week on syllabus work in the winter and something else on the other nights. With the modern syllabus and exam system as long as you cover the basics and emphasise the important bits, exams are too easy now and the cadets can do them at home and look up the answers. Which means you don’t have to instruct it properly and can do other things. I’ve been looking at one syllabus session a fortnight.

Does our doing two nights limit the youngsters joining on doing something else? Or is the ATC so special that they should only do that?


My detachment parades once a week whereas most detachments our company and indeed county parade twice a week. Statistically speaking, my detachment outperformed all others in the county in the previous 12 months in terms of syllabus passes, so it doesn’t necessarily mean you are worse off. We get a much more consistent attendance on a parade night (~90% of strength on average) outside of summer holidays. Cadets find it much easier commit to once a week than twice a week. It is also less pressure on staff so keeps us motivated. Originally the move was forced by our move to a new premises where we couldn’t parade twice a week, however now I am not sure I would change back to twice a week event if I could.


Something you and the commandant agree on this is a first.

My biggest concern about going to 1 night a week would be about boredom, if you get to the syllabus bit of the year you would either just be doing exams every night or you would take forever doing the exams. Either way I’m not happy that this would assist in retention.


I’ll kind of buck the trend on this one, but for the most part we don’t have much trouble filling two parade nights a week (we do have a few poor attenders, but I’m pretty sure that they’d still attend poorly even if we only did one night per week).

In an ideal world, I’d do one parade night a week and make up for the time by doing plenty of weekend stuff, whether that’s an afternoon, a whole day or a full weekend. For lots of activities (shooting and leadership exercises spring immediately to mind) having five or six hours to hit the activity in one go rather than trying to break it down to three or four 1.5 hour sessions would be far better.

However, we really struggle to get cadets to show up for anything outside of normal parade night hours! It used to be that we could fill weekend activities easily, now even flying is sometimes under-subscribed.


I have to agree with you Matt. If anything we have difficulty fitting everything in to two parade nights. Like you we have a few poor attenders, and I agree that even having one parade night a week they would still attend sporadically.

Are we on the same squadron?!

However we also have a lot of cadets who do other activities and I wonder sometimes how they ever fit everything in.

What would the consensus be amongst those in favour of one parade night a week for lengthening that one parade night? So instead of two, two hour parades you do one, three hour parade? Would solve the issue of not meeting the 12 hour rule…


Our Sqn only has one parade night, on a Friday from 1800-2130 and attendance out of the summer holiday period seems to be at around 80-90%.


Before a solution is found to “offering” 12 hours activity a month I would be tempted to challenge where 12 hours comes from.

On what basis or justification was 12 hours/month decided upon?
Which Air Officer felt it was a “fair” expectation to lay down on a volunteer to achieve. Now please do not take this as me against having a mark in the sand. I have never struggled to fill that expectation and often have surpassed two fold and would not be surprised if others had as well. However we all know someone who does struggle for whatever reasons.

Interestingly I don’t know anyone who has been dismissed or disciplined on the basis of their not reaching the 12hours/month expectation. At best they go NEP and later leave (note none have transferred to CI). Given it is not rigidly enforced, or even loosely calculated unofficially, it carries little weight and is more there because it better to have a line than not, rather than a structured reason which we can measure ourselves.


Not dismissed or disciplined; but i know somebody where it was used as leverage for a transfer to another Squadron. The WSO felt it was “the distances involved” which meant they couldn’t do 12 hours per month… ignoring the fact they are a shift worker!!!


Interesting that most thoughts are along the lines of “how do we fit what we do in” if we only did one night?
Shouldn’t this be looked at from the perspective of, what do we do that we do because we always do it? I know from years and years of experience that you plan things to do them in a progressive manner and then for the first night, there are non-attenders which completely screws the benefit of progression. So one night or two nights would it make much difference in reality?
Take something like DofE exped planning and kit which we now do on two Saturdays or Sundays or combination c.9am to 3pm. We used to do it on parade nights but that was becoming more and more of a task.
This year we did our drill team training on a Saturday, rather than over several parade nights. We do drill on parade nights, but that’s different. It didn’t improve things greatly but that’s another thing.
We do NCO training on a similar basis.
This has proved successful attendance wise. I’m not bothered if the cadets and staff do a weekend thing and then miss a parade night.

WRT 12 hour per month it would be interesting to see if this was challenged and how it stands up legally. Is it a contracted time? If so are uniformed staff employed? We know we aren’t but can you have an expectation of hours put on you in a voluntary role?

It’s difficult to not do 12 hours a month as most of us would do it without attending a parade night. Add in parade nights and it becomes a p/t job. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be collecting for Wings and a BoB parade, which will easily surpass 12 hours.


Any martial art school that’s advocating 1 night a week, isn’t worth the effort or money. 2 mandatory and encouraged to attend more.


[off topic]
i did Judo for several years between 10-13 every Wednesday - once a week. never did me any harm.[/off topic]


It’s not about doing you harm. It’s about how much harm you can do to others.

I think you missed the point.


poor choice of words

  • once a week never caused me any problems
  • once a week never gave me reason to not progress
  • once a week never felt insufficient to get something out of it
  • once a week never did my progress any harm having reached green belt.


Once a week is a token effort. And is not sufficient. Especially if you want to take it seriously.

How many successful athletes only trained once a week.
Sadly true martial arts schools have been flooded by

Back on topic but one night a week limits activites, and if the kids can’t make one, they can make the other.


using your own argument we are not needed to be “taken seriously” - membership of the ATC is not recruitment for the RAF.

If the Scouts, Guides and all other groups are able to complete a rounded and successful experience by meeting once a week - why is the ATC so different

Even our closest competitors the ACF meets half as often which begs the question what does an Air Cadet get/or is capable of over the ACF??

is the ATC such a Gold Standard Youth organisation/noteworthy youth experience that to do it justice it requires twice the attendance??