Promotions too easy?


Before I transferred to RM Cadets (for geographical reasons) I was OC Squadron for several years in ATC. The promotion system for RM Cadets is vastly more difficult to get through than in Air Cadets. To get to Corporal the RM Cadet (having already achieved L/Cpl) has to go away to CHQ for weekend boards, interviewed and tested on all aspects of Drill, Corps History, practical Fieldcraft, WHT, mapreading, Leadership tests (a la Hangar!), inspection by the CSM. All that after a written test to even get onto the Board!
In my experience with Air Cadets, Corporals are just promoted by the OC Squadron, without much real consistency between Squadrons. I have even seen Corporals on Camp who are only 1st Class Cadets.
When we go away on joint events, it can naturally cause some resentment that NCOs who have done comparatively little to achieve the rank are equal to or above the ones who have gone through a lot to get the rank. In the increasingly Tri-service world of Cadets, what are everyone’s thoughts on this?


I am a big fan of applying more consistency to promotions. Even the supposedly standardised process for CWOs produces people of massively varying calibre.
On my squadron we state that cadets have to have passed a Wing JNCO or SNCO course to be promoted (unless they are truly excellent and there haven’t been courses for a long time), but that certainly isn’t standard practice in my Wing.


It’s a difficult one - the first principle is ‘what are cadet NCO’s for?’

Personally I take the view that we should be hugely wary of any kind of ‘tick box’ exercise - passed X, Y, or Z course, got A, B, or C grade = good NCO.

I can think of several cadets who would never, ever have passed the kind of process the RM cadets go through, but who proved to be hugely capable leaders when it was really needed - wet, cold, tired cadets, lost on Dartmoor and then an injury - and likewise I can think of many cadet NCO’s who went through all the hoops, passed all the papers/exams but were not just useless, but dangerous liabilities when the cadets and staff needed them most.


There is a 50% failure rate on the Cadet NCO boards, which belies the ‘tickbox’ exercise idea. An aspiring Cadet is only put forward if the OC or Det Commander recommends them. I think the ‘hugely capable leader’ but who can’t pass any part of a leadership test or selection board would be a rare Cadet indeed


In the RMC, the syllabus and rank system are far more closely related then they are in organisations such as the ATC or ACF. In my ACF company, promotion to the rank of sergeant involves me filling in a form with the cadet’s achievements and my recommendations, and sending it to my OC. My OC could decide to interview the cadet or just promote them (new OC so am not sure what he will do). Either way you could see it not doing little to achieve the rank, but don’t forget that to be eligible for the promotion, the cadet has already been through several levels of training and assessment over a period of several years. They may not have done it as part of a promotion board, but they have still done the work.

If your failure rate on all your boards is 50%, then either you are not preparing your cadets properly for the board, or your standards are too high.


I don’t think there is anything like an easy promotion as you have to put in the groundwork to be considered regardless of anything else.

It’s like the BS of over 18s needing to be ‘of worth’ before being allowed to stay in the ATC, when there is no similar requirement placed on adult staff. Because I’m pretty certain they know what would happen.

As Angus says, what are cadet NCOs for and how much time do they use whatever skills etc they might pick up and use to pass a course/board. Passing a course doesn’t make you an NCO, it’s the person inside the skin and no number of courses will make you a better / more suitable person. If as it seems the bar is too high, what is being attempted to be achieved? If a cadet doesn’t pass where does that leave the unit commander needing the NCOs? If the cadet doesn’t pass where is the incentive to stay around and try again, it’s little consolation when you are teenager being told the standards are really high and there’s no shame. It’s only a hobby and with so much pressure elsewhere, you can get by without it.

We also need to consider what it looks like on a CV. Just by being an NCO can be a fillip and the people reading it won’t know if you passed a course or not and are unlikely to care very much.

Then there is the new GCSE and A Levels which are moving away from the modular / 2 stage format, back to what I remember, ie study for 2 years (except GCSE is now 3 years starting in Yr9) and having to remember things to answer questions. As such how much time will some cadets have to do these additional things? The cadets we have in lower 6th have had more time off for homework (among other things) than previously as they haven’t got a cushion anymore and have to know the stuff and schools and parents are ramping up the pressure.


i’d argue that there is a criteria to meet.

if a 17yr old Cadet wasn’t allowed to stay on to 18+ service, would you also jump at the chance to have them when they turned 20?
we have all met that cadet who started at 13/14 and got involved but never shone, was never going to be a NCO but they were a welcome part of the Squadron.
If they offered little to retain them past 18 what would the difference be at 20?

Of those I see past 18 I would say 50%+ are likely to return as Staff at 20. The rest are going on to bigger and better things, be it university, the forces, or a career of some sort.

Although few OCs are in a position to turn new Staff away, there is a process to go through. There is no obligation to accept everyone who walks through the door – I’d like to hope no OC would accept someone into the Staff team without some idea of what they want to achieve having explained how they can get involved.


Do not forget that they do not serve us; we serve them.
Unless there is a genuine reason why it would be unwise to retain a cadet past 18 we should be happy to retain them and offer them the opportunities available to air cadets.


Leaving the RAFAC with the bottom 50%…?

I agree with Incubus. We are there to fulfil the aims of our organisation, to whoever rocks up and gives it a try. Not use the organisation as a self fulfilling recruiting machine.

Let’s face it, those cadets we write off at 18 may be the ones that would benefit the most from what we have to offer.


it depends if you consider it the bottom 50% but that was not what i implied.

i was trying to suggest of those i see staying past 18, i know 50% will have little interest in staying on as Staff - wanting to move past the organisation and on to other challenges.
That shouldn’t write them off though, more they have the interest, desire and drive to make the most of the opportunities available to our 18+ cadets while having the maturity to deal with the 18+ responsibility

the other 50% are likely to have the same drive and passion but may well have an interest in becoming Staff long term either alongside a career and/or uni (the route i took)…

I can’t agree more with that - but as 18+ they hold added responsibility and not all are best placed for that


Just as a point five of the staff on my squadron are ex-cadets and students. Going to university and being a member of staff isn’t mutually exclusive.


i didn’t say it was or should be. I am an ex-Cadet and Graduate.

i was trying to indicate as Cadet go to uni they leave Cadets behind on the most part and the majority don’t return for whatever reason.

I would say in my experience those who stay on past 18 and go to uni, not all stay with Cadets, either “on university leave” or as CIs once reaching 20.


Only if the OC wants them to, though!!

I’d like to lose the requirement to add ‘worth’ to the organisation. As far as I’m concerned, if they pay subs (or have agreed not to with the civcom), they they should be allowed to stay on.

Prefiltering those that we think may make good staff members is ridiculous, and I’m sure it won’t be long before someone cries ‘age discrimination’, and the RAFAC gets tied up in a legal battle because we’ve binned someone based solely on their age.


They’re not being binned solely on their age though - they would be binned because they’re not suitable material to be a staff cadet.

Of course they could cry favoritism instead.


Yes the added responsibility that over 18’s have is down to the OC but I see no point in keeping over 18’s who I can’t trust with that extra responsibility.

Quite frankly do you want your 12 & 13 year old newbies to be influenced by or exposed to adults (that’s what over 18’s are) who are so immature that they can’t be trusted with adult responsibility?

It’s not about prefiltering those who may or may not be good members of staff in 2 years, if you are using your staff cadets to their fullest they ARE members of staff.


Just to add as well - I am not sure that that RAFAC in general wants over 18 cadets to be members of staff, or staff cadets at all. I’m fairly sure we’d all prefer to do away with the whole thing and just have cadets as cadets, but it’s the legal responsibility for duty of care that being an adult brings that necessitates being a responsible adult.


No, of course not. But, what about those perfectly sensible 18+ cadets who just want to receive the cadet experience without the faff of being in charge? Or who feel that the one day BASIC course has in no way prepared them to deal with the possibility of being totally responsible for an event.


I had that choice recently, and elected to stop the cadets service, the cadet was also far to close to new 12y.o. cadets for someone who was meant to be an adult (peter pan syndrome the cadet wanted to be a youngster for ever!). It was the best decision i ever made the cadet left and joined another organisation as a young leader and has since been expelled due to their actions.


Surely the responsibility lies with the activity commander, not with anyone who happens to be over 18?

Staff cadets can only be in some charge of other cadets if both the cadet, and the OC consents. If either refuses, then a staff cadet is exactly the same as any other under 18.


I don’t think they are. They are still adults - if they were the same, why do they need a DBS? Why do they need staff cadet rank slides? What do they need BASIC/AVIP?

Hypothetical situation - what if a group of cadets decide to play in the road, and something happens. An over 18 cadet was watching and said nothing. Are they responsible morally? How about legally? What if they are under 18?

Hypothetical situation 2 - Cadet A tells Staff Cadet B that they are being abused at home. Is Staff Cadet B morally required to take the same actions as a member of staff? What about legally?

And pretend that the argument that “I would expect an under 18 cadet to say something” has already been made.

I think these are the kind of situations that duty of care applies to. I think that duty of care applies to all over 18 cadets, regardless of any staff cadet agreement, regardless of whether they are in charge of an activity or not.