Rough Age for Promotions

Caveat: It obviously depends. And what I’m constructing here is almost an optimal example of career management for a suitable cadet.

Back in my day:

age 15/2 years was good for cpl
age 16/3 years for sgt
age 17/4 years for FS
age 18/5 years and you’re ready to promote to WO on your 18th birthday, if appropriate.

Now that kids can join up to a year earlier, does this change much? For many cadets the start date may be a negligible difference.

Just interested, as I’ve no idea how this may have affected things. Would someone perhaps start feeling disillusioned if serving for another year before picking up?

No idea what answers I’m expecting. Random thought for the day.

Bonus question, how do you handle disappointment these days, or a cadet who has peaked and needs nudging out of the way delicately to allow new talent to emerge?

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In terms of length of service it hasn’t changed much but I am finding school years are starting to come into play a lot more (as our start point is year8)

18mth service for pre training & then minimum 3-6mths in rank

So for the start of the academic year
Year 9 - pre NCO training (all cadets) LCpls :rotating_light: if I was permitted in the ATC :frowning:
Year10/11 - Cpl - approx 18month service,
Year 11 - Sgt,
Year 12 - Sgt & FS
Year 13 - FS & CWO

Really clear on promotion criteria & doing interview boards for Cpl & sgt where one of the questions is “how would you manage those who are unsuccessful”.

It makes things really transparent & the cadets & cadet NCO are strongly in favour of the process. It also reduces challenges from parents who can understand the process & may have to deal with disappointed cadets.

The Pre-NCO training is done on a cross the board clean slate basis so all cadets feel it’s fair & that they aren’t held back by past sins. It also allows us to expand our knowledge & understanding of the cadets in more detail & have a pool to promote from.

Ah now this question mainly applies to cadet SNCOs. I have the standard flt command structure for the Sqn of Snr cadet, flt cdrs, flt cpls.

The NCOs that need to put out to pasture / moved out of the development stream get posted to the HQ flt where they have a NCO role profile (stores, admin training etc) for them to do support functions & not part of the general flt structure of the Sqn.

Allows us to keep things fresh & avoid bed blocking so the cadets coming through can keep developing.


I like the idea of this, rather than it all depending on performance at a single interview. However, I do think the decision to promote should be based on all available information (attendance, participation in events, overall performance, attitude towards normal training. etc.) in the same way that a PSB uses three years’ worth of appraisals to rank those eligible for promotion.


Oh precisely, as OC the decision to do so or not always rests with myself. We have a promotion matrix that sets out the minimum expectations which I can vary with good reason.

However with the rate that the cadets change & develop you can only realistically go back 6-9mths for any measurement.


We do a minimum of 12 months in rank so we are seeing younger Cpls but to be fair with some maturity levels you can’t see the different some very immature older cadets, and very mature younger ones. As long as they have 50% attendance during that time (this has been our biggest change in the last few years - years gone by it used to be upwards of 75% but actually having a NCO regularly once a week is absolutely fine) but other than those two it’s open to anyone

We do a boarding process which also includes ongoing competencies - which all the staff put in towards then the average is taken. Because they may be fantastic in front of uniform staff but rubbish with the CIs. At the end of the boarding process they get a grade (it looks complicated but excel does the work - it quantifies the interview, knowledge, competencies, behaviour examples) and then if they hit minimum grade we match to spaces.

If no one hits minimum grade then we don’t fill any spaces.

It’s not a way that I had seen before but I really liked a similiar process a Squadron did and the cadets responded well to it as they all went away with targets and a report, that I adapted it and took it away for my squadron.


100% It was never my intention to suggest we’d use three years’ worth of reports for cadet promotions (just something more rounded than an interview).


What I find interesting here is that the assumption is often made that CCF, with its younger age cap, promotes earlier, yet from the above it looks like we are little different if any - apart from CWO. What we would usually do is:

Y10 - youngest age in our school to join the RAF section (and in our case, part of compulsory service)
Y11 - voluntary now; promotion to LCpl for those who complete our MOI cadre (Presentation Skills for the RAF ones, similar for the others because I run it :slight_smile: ) and show some other leadership potential (e.g. volunteering for guard of honour; taking on extra responsibilities).
Y12 - Cpl, though initially only for those taking command of a recruits’ flight or passing Senior. Sgt by the end of the year if up to it
Y13 - FS for head of section only; if Head of Corps (=head of entire contingent, Army and RN as well) then CWO