The Role of a Staff Cadet and the Upper Age Limit

Afternoon everyone,

I wanted to find out some opinions from around the organisation about Staff Cadets and in particular the rank of CWO. Ever since I joined the Corps I aspired to be a CWO but, now that I am here, the harsh reality of the role is sinking in.

I understand that some people are of the opinion that being a Staff Cadet and in particular a CWO is intended to help you transfer into a Staff role and that makes sense. My question is however why is that expected if none of the staff benifits are given?

On a regular basis I find Staff from all around the organisation expecting me to perform Staff roles and then when it suits them, change their mind and wish me to become a Cadet again with little privalages.

I often find myself using my own personal vehicle to transport Cadets to events only to be told that I cannot claim fuel expenses as I am not a CFAV.

I understand I can claim this back from my Squadron however that will only effect my unit negatively. Why if I am performing the same role as a CFAV should I not be entitled to the same benefits?

I also find myself still contributing to subscriptions to attend the Squadron although performing more roles then some CFAV’s on my unit.

These are just a mere few examples of how I think Staff Cadets and CWO’s are currently being mistreated in the organisation.

I personally find it disgusting that HQAC wish to consult with OC Sqn’s & Wg’s but not with those who are actually currently engaged in the role about there opinions of the role of a Staff Cadet. In my opinion it shows a disconnection from the top and poor leadership.

I think the upper age limit needs to be brought down to 18 years old. Why should one of my friends in the ACF be entitled to all the benifits of being a CFAV at 18 yet I shouldn’t, even though I am being expected to perform a similar if not more demanding Staff role.

What are your opinions on this? Do you think the upper age limit needs to be lowered or indeed a change in the way we treat Staff Cadets? It is an issue which is quite heavily making me want to abandon this organisation for good as I currently feel as though I am being used and paying to work.

Thanks in advance everyone,



I think your view is seen as the same by many of the CWO. Staff will pick and choose when to utilise you and give you some responsibility and at other times you are just another Cadet.

To answer your question, yes, I think the age should be lowered to bring in parity with the ACF and SCC. It will give the over 18s the responsibility they require and I dont think it will generate much more personnel work.


By the looks of it the main staff “benefit” is the fact that we may get fuel and/or remuneration for certain activities however your benefits as a cadet far exceed those as staff (in my opinion at least).

Firstly there’s cost - most uniformed staff will pay full messing at RAF Camps as opposed to the cadet daily rate
Activities - you can take part in a far greater number of activities (and should be actively encouraged to) rather than the staff - however you also should get the option of “ducking out” of certain ones if you don’t want to do them
Responsibility - this is the main one. You are a cadet. As such if something goes wrong - you may get shouted at but you don’t be held accountable (depending on the circumstances) - as opposed to those with rank where they will. I wouldn’t have wanted this at 18 (barely want it now)

Don’t try to grow up too quickly - it all goes a lot quicker than you expect!



My personal view is that we should have a half-way house between cadets and staff, with a status roughly analogous to UAS OCdts.

Junior CFAVs who are able to claim some of the benefits of being staff, who are treated like adults at all times but who have personal development as a key part of their engagement and who don’t have too much pressure placed upon them. In an ideal world, it’d be good if we could actually integrate them with some UAS activities.


I fully believe we should end cadet service at 18 and you either A) Leave or B) Join as an adult member of staff either as CI or Junior Uniformed Member of staff. Cpl(RAFAC). I know that option was/is being discussed and i think its probably the easiest and best option


From a discussion earlier this year with a senior HQAC bod, the travel costs for 018 is something they are actively looking at to make the same as CI.
Also a good number of 018 cadets were consulted in the survey as well as OCs and WSOs, via emails being sent to many. I expect that it wouldnt have been 100% coverage though.
Also the cessation of subs payments at 018 was on their agenda too.

As for being treated differently at different times, then that is just something to suck up/learn from as it wouldnt be any different as a CI/NCO/Officer either. We are all just pawns in whoever is in charge of a particular activity’s game.

I see the 2 years you spend as a Staff Cadet as a transitional phase from cadet to CFAV, for some this will happen quicker than others, there may be some that just don’t make it.

You wouldn’t able to drive a Bus, due to both Age & Driving experience, I would not be encouraging a Staff Cadet to be transporting cadets due to the increased risk of a teenage driver with passengers of a similar age.

I would support fuel costs if you were transporting yourself to an event where you were involved in ratios or acting as directing staff. Also for courses that would benefit you as a CFAV, but not cadet focused courses.

I agree, on a case by case basis, if you have a Staff role at the Sqn then the OC should speak to the Civ Com about waiving your subs, or reducing to the amount that goes upwards to Wing/Region/Corps.

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I have always supported the idea of retaining cadets up to the age of 20 and there are plenty of cadets who also support that notion. There are opportunities on offer to older cadets that can only realistically be achieved in decent numbers if we off the cadet experience over the age of 18.

There have been improvements in how the organisation views and treats those cadets over 18: a strengthening of the distinction between a normal cadet and a staff cadets that sensible CFAVs will treat with the focus on the “Staff” and not so much on the “Cadet”. We now see acceptance of the status and qualifications of these adults that we have not had fully acknowledged before, but there is still a way to go:

  • Though I have not though about it before, I would like to see a cease on Staff Cadets being charged subs, starting at HQAC and going all the way to the squadron. Until HQAC stop demanding money for staff cadets it is not reasonable for squadrons to stop charging it on, though they could reduce it to the minimum value.
  • I would love to see shooting courses opened up to Staff Cadets as they are to CFAVs, though the hurdle seems to be the army seeing the word “cadet” and turning their brains off at that point.
  • I hope that HQAC can sort out reasonable expenses for staff cadets with a legitimate claim for them.

The position of Staff Cadet works better a a “probationary CFAV” step than the actual acting roles in which new uniformed CFAVs are appointed - there is still a tendency to dump them in seior roles earlier than would be ideal and I see exactly that happening to an 18 year ol dif we were to transition straight from cadet to CFAV.


the EBC course is open to Staff Cadets, and I know a handful who have gone on them and come back to Units and been useful.

the frequency of courses in our area however means to get suitable experience on the “staff side of the line” and appreciation for the shooting courses Cadets will have aged out by that time.

far better to whet the appetite with a EBC to get them involved and contributing than try rush them for SSAI or RCO sooner than is perhaps right for them.

On my BEL course we had two Staff Cadets with us as Students…there are courses out there for Staff Cadets - but as mentioned they won’t get any pocket money for it or be able to claim travel to attend these courses…

The solution for this is to include Staff Cadets in the definition of RAFAC CFAV - Course Requirements laid down in CTR all refer to CFAV.

I would retain a minimum age for RCO and perhaps also for SAAI, although WI could be completed by those 18+

A quick win for both Staff Cadets and the organisation in terms of shooting would for Staff Cadets to get SA(K)17 Qualified and also act as First Aid / Ammo Orderly.

although i agree a quick win - “back in my day” to coin the phrase there was qcWHT which has since disappeared

there is no “regular” equivalent so there is no “training course” material to support it - a disadvantage of being stuck in the MOD structure we have to play by there format…!

That would work for me, and would also tie in with the argument to cease collecting subs from staff cadets.

At the time of posting there are 1,918 cadets aged 18+, from a total strength of 34,064 cadets and an enrolled strength of 24,691. This is 5.63% of the total cadet strength.

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Ever since the LASER Review CWO has become increasingly lost, effectively a present for staying around longer, and over 18s general have been neither fish or fowl. Cadets except when it suits the organisation. I was confused as to why they didn’t just reduce the upper age to 18, until I was told there was a wobble about losing numbers. Which implies we kept cadets over 18 was for no reason other than stats.

The upper age should be dropped to 18, make the only option CI, so that these young adults can be fully included as staff and access all the benefits of adult staff do without fear of prejudice, also at this somewhat transitional time of their life they lose the faff of uniform and be able to be themselves. What is the benefit to them having an adult uniform ie as Cpls?

For my money the only reason to suggest the “adult Cpl” is a rampant fear they won’t hang around, in which case HQAC have to make CFAV in the Air Cadets an appealing thing to do. This doesn’t mean courses and development opportunities, it means making being CFAV less onerous.

Looking at the figure for over 18s, that is book, what is the effective strength? If there are nearly 2000, what happens at 20? Where do they go, or have they effectively already gone? As they certainly aren’t coming in as adult staff, which given the BS about high calibre cadets and staff of the future, or do the bright ones see through the tissue of lies and spin about being adult staff.


I’ve always been in agreement with reducing the upper age limit to 18. Although, I do appreciate that you can do a lot more as an 18 year old plus cadet.

I think it’s such a grey area in regards to rules etc. I find it strange that we still class them as cadets and in many cases treat them as such, yet at 18 they’re adults in the eyes of the law. For example, staff cannot have these cadets on social media.

Myself and the CWO on my unit have both applied for the police and have the same selection dates. It is definitely odd to think that we may be doing the same job in a few months, yet at the squadron she is still deemed a child in some ways.


I couldn’t agree more with what you say and I have voiced my concerns about this before. Last September a summer camp was run and the Staff cadets were used heavily but had the privilege of paying to go! I felt that was very unfair given how much they were used. At the very least they should have just paid what the staff did for messing rates. I also had no idea that ACF equivalents were able to claim expenses.

My starting point would be to talk to your CO and simply make your point, he/she may be able to raise this up the line. Its not reasonable for you to transport cadets to events and not get reimbursed by HQAC. Someone on here can probably tell you about the legality of this as my understanding was that you needed business insurance for your car as you are getting paid back? Probably a can of worms but someone will probably know.

We don’t want to lose our staff cadets so some realigning should be done. We need new staff and the staff cadets is the obvious place to recruit from providing they have been treated fairly.

Business insurance as I was told at work year ago mostly relates to what you might have in the car that belongs to the company.

I can’t see there being a problem with things getting paid by the CWC, but longer term this wouldn’t be satisfactory, hence reducing the age of staff to 18, so they can claim properly.

As for staff cadets as we currently we have becoming staff, they are being sold a line. Although the fact this would be harder for the 16 / 17 year olds, I do think get them over the hump of the first months and as long as HQAC ensure that the opportunities are open to them, I can’t see it being a problem as they will be adults from day one and get expenses etc. The problem with adult Cpls is where do they “live” on a camp?

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You need to be properly insured, therefore you need to ensure that your insurance covers you if you are claiming mileage. Generally the easiest way is to insure for business use as this would be inherent in the policy - but you could also just check with your insurance company.

MoD policy seems to be that you need business insurance - whether that would include a confirmation from your insurer that you are covered I’m not sure, but if someone sensible is making the decisions then it certainly should.

I’ve been to, and agree with, events run where CWOs (like CIs) were not charged for attending.

(CWOs were utilised as staff while other staff cadets were solely with the cadets)

is this a general rule for everything (ie any claims on mileage) or simply a RAFAC thing?

I wear a RBL hat and have on occasion travelled and claimed “mileage” - in doing so should I have business insurance?

As far as I can tell, it depends on your insurance company.

I’m with Direct Line - the minimum cover for volunteer driving is Social, Domestic and Pleasure (but they ask that you let them know that you’re using your car for that purpose). As it happens, I use my car for business purposes, so they added business cover free of charge anyway.

Find your insurance requirements here