Volunteer Software Development Team - New Cadet Portal


What world are you living in that every event requires home Squadron staff in order for a cadet to attend?

We make it clear to parents that while transport or chaperones will be made available where viable, it’s not always possible and it may be necessary for them to do some of the legwork with transport arrangements - either themselves or arranging lift shares.

We will enquire with other units locally to see if someone else is going that we could tie-in with, but beyond that our powers are limited.


My bold - that is a policy decision which hasn’t been made yet but I will raise that as a discussion point with RCN.

Yes - we are looking at the SMS approval mechanism for different types of events at the moment and that will be embedded in a future release.

I am not convinced by the “cadets don’t have internet access argument”. The latest government study confirms that 99%+ of young people have some form of internet access at home. If they don’t have access at home, they have access at school. If they don’t have access at school (holibobs etc), they will probably have access at the Sqn. If they don’t have access at the Sqn, the overwhelming majority have Smartphones and access through them…my personal opinion is that the “the cadets don’t have access to the internet” is a dead argument in 2018.

Cadet Portal is authenticated through Office 365, so the cadets will be able to self-serve their own password resets without staff intervention.

Cadet Portal is fully responsive and will adapt itself to whatever type of device you are using whether that is a computer, tablet, phone etc - basically, any browser with an internet connection and it works. We are not going down the “app” route because that is no longer the direction of travel in development of these kinds of web based applications and they are expensive and tricky to maintain over time.

Thank you and I think you will be happy with what we are developing.

I am keen on the softly softly catchy monkey approach. Once we get to the point where we are post Command Board (tomorrow morning), into Beta and then looking at the Corps-wide release, we will have a full internal and external communications strategy in place which will harness not just the unofficial but the official outlets including all of the website/social media , IBNs, SharePoint announcements, All-Staff email, Serco Reprographics printed media etc etc. I have an SME working on this side of things for me and we have identified the core audiences and key messages already in a draft communications strategy document.

My goal is that this is an effectively communicated project which engages our key stakeholders to help ensure success.

My team has implemented local Wing software applications that do (in some ways) similar things to Cadet Portal which includes MySquadron and SquadronBox. Between these two projects, we have an uptake of around 60+ Squadrons and years worth of access data. We know the gap, the cadet audience and what they need from a system like this.

I would say both and we are looking at that at the moment.

Violent agreement!

Again, violent agreement :slight_smile:

Don’t disagree with any of that. The facility to not push an Event into your Squadrons Cadet Portal is there and there may well be (and I find myself agreeing with Teflon - which is unusual) very good reasons that you don’t want your cadets to see a particular event because of staffing, transport, conflicting priorities etc and we have catered for that in the design of the Events module.


To be fair, I know of two wings that occasionally enforce an “if you don’t send staff, you don’t send cadets policy” for Wing run events. Plus, what about flying or gliding - can cadets be sent to AEFs without escorts?


Yep that’s where we are.
The only things where it doesn’t apply are DofE, courses and camps.


One point not yet mentioned - there are still a lot of parents who want their off-spring to minimise their internet activities - & not necessarily for the youngest cadets either. They are the parents on a sqn Facebook group who make all the inputs / decisions about attendance at activities. I think that most sqns would still have to run a duplicate notification on Fb Group & any Portal as a catch-all. That, to me, defeats one of the primary aims. You could also argue that it gives an unfair advantage to those cadets who would have such direct access to any Portal, compared to those who did not = get ahead on a bidding lost, late notice of a place for camp, etc.

If there are documents required, then it is easy to provide extracts or relevant application form direct to a Fb group (e.g. ACTO100 for the Development Trust Bursary Scheme, or details for ACPS) - too many times where Cadet A hasn’t actioned the required form(s) but the parent has picked up on the error / required timescale. I shudder at the thought of cadets inputting into SMS! Maybe a sliding scale of access, with increasing “rights levels” as rank increases?


Wow you lot are exhausting. I don’t think we can control what parents do and do not decide to let their child do on the internet. What about the 12 year olds who shouldn’t be on facebook as it breaks the community rules? What about the cadets who aren’t allowed on facebook because their parents don’t want them on it full stop?

Put simply, if they don’t use Cadet Portal, of course they are going to miss out. But the 12 year old who isn’t on facebook and doesn’t find out about things anyway is missing out already and arguably the Squadron is actively discriminating against them…

Again, we are providing access to information so things are fair and transparent. The same abstracts can be put into the Cadet Portal event descriptions which could cover any event or activity of any type and we can provide a link to the ACTO itself if we wished.

What exactly are you concerned about? Updating their rank without authorisation? Updating their telephone number without it being approved? As I have said, all of this needs to be thought through and there will be suitable approval methods on the SMS side for staff to approve any changes that a cadet wishes to make…


Everyone will have access to the cadet portal. If parents for some truly bizarre reason ban their offspring from spending five minutes checking an administration tool then that’s hardly our fault.


Nope, just pointing out the reality of communication as it stands; sometimes the internet makes it easier, at other times, more complicated. You have to factor in parental “control” (or lack of) as an important element with associated considerations. On that basis, a new Portal will be require a level of duplicate input / monitoring.

There would only be active discrimination if the sqn failed to notify cadets by all relevant methods. From what I can see so far, other than a few enhancements, most sqns use a “catch all” of sign-up sheets & an electronic method (Fb group, whatever). Directly, or indirectly, there will always be filters to avoid an “illegible” cadet attempting to participate in an activity that is not relevant to them (e.g. 1st Class cadet cannot go for a SNCO cse) or qualified for (e.g. category of live firing).

SMS access - it’s bad enough keeping up with the plethora of admin as it is, without a steady stream of approval requests from cadets.


Surely this is no additional Admin and would only streamline the process on our side? Currently, you have a combination of tracking everything a cadet does and/or having them approach you in the office/FB/whatever, then manually updating the system…


My word what a conceit filled remark and atypical of software developers.

How many cadets are missing out on things? Because they don’t do it, doesn’t mean they have been given the opportunity, just that they had more important things to do. I made this point to a senior in rank and years officer at a staff conference and a number of Wing Staff.

I think what this is edging towards is a virtual Air Cadets, where cadets don’t have to turn up they look online and see if they fancy it. I know of 2 squadrons who stopped publishing parade night training on their closed FB as cadets were picking and choosing, as soon as they did they saw a rise in attendance. They also started answering requests for what’s happening tonight, with you’ll need to come along.


Ignore them @james_elliott. We know the value of you and your team’s work.


Not as such - we often look at an activity as a “maybe” so in effect, the Fb group notification / signup sheet is an initial “what if” to judge interest / possible numbers to see if it is worth progressing. Likewise, for that 1900 hrs email from Wg / local trg or Sports person, we can announce it instantly / action a signup sheet to get an idea of numbers very quickly. We can push (politely) via a Fb group for more / numbers, etc, or advise of last minute changes.

On a signup sheet / Fb group, cadets can see if their mates plan to attend. Portal, I would see privacy issues if it shows all names to all cadets.

Likewise even when an event is confirmed, I would not trust cadet input for accuracy of attendance, especially for last minute drop-outs or attendees.

Parade night programme - yes, hiding the activities to avoid the “I don’t want to do that” is not uncommon.

Until there is 100% cadet-input into any such Portal, you will already need alternatives = duplication.


Maybe a better approach would be to try and work out what is was about the nights that cadets weren’t attending that made them so unpopular?


We have suffered from selective attendance before - certain cadets would prefer sports/FC/Shooting/Leadership to lessons and drill, so would conveniently be “ill” when lessons or drill sessions were programmed…


I have to agree with @MattB, the cadets are the customers so if they aren’t turning up to certain types of activities, something needs to be done to make it more interesting and fun.
That doesn’t mean stop doing the activity or stop advertising.


I am a little confused by this comment, whats the difference in privacy if its up on a board at the squadron or behind a password protected online system that only the same people can see? GDPR covers both so in theory if there is a privacy issue on the portal we need to take down our sign up sheets at the squadrons?


Thinking about it, the ACF and any RFCA contractors would see the sheets on the board at my place…


i can’t see the issue if your sign up sheets only include names

Cpl Smith
Cdt Jones
Cdt Fry
Sgt Bloggs

GDPR would throw a wobbly if their phone numbers and or emails (or other contact details) were included.


Dates of birth are particularly sensitive bits of info too.


As a current user of one of the portals James mentioned (which im guessing this will mimic). It doesnt include anything other than “Cdt Bloggs”,

The portal is not allowed to keep any of the privvy information like DOB Address or phone number currently so even as an administrator i have to revert to SMS.