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Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) allowance is made in initial training and (b) seniority in rank is granted for previous service when non-commissioned officers below the rank of warrant officer are selected for commissioned service in (i) the Royal Navy, (ii) the Royal Marines, (iii) the British Army and (iv) the Royal Air Force. [R] (91488)

In the Naval Service, there are two schemes for entering the officer corps from the ranks:

The Upper Yardman/Corps Commission (UY/CC) schemes for RN ratings and RM other ranks respectively who are under the age of 26 (for engineers—age 30) on the first day of the month that initial officer training begins.

The Senior Upper Yardman/Senior Corps Commission (SUY/SCC) schemes for RN ratings and RM other ranks respectively who are over the age of 26 (for engineers—age 30) and would have a minimum of four years to serve (until their retirement date) on the first day of the month that initial officer training is expected to begin.

Individuals selected for the officer corps via the UY/CC schemes are treated in exactly the same way as individuals entering from outside the service and undertake the same initial training and are awarded the same rank and seniority on entry (currently based on age) as their civilian counterparts.

Individuals selected for the officer corps via the SUY/SCC schemes undertake phase 1 training but thereafter receive bespoke training (where required) based on their experience and the nature of the post to which they are appointed. Given the greater relative experience of SUY/SCC officers over those selected by direct entry or via the UY/CC route, and in recognition of their likely employment (often as deep specialist officers), former ratings and other ranks (below the rank of Warrant Officer) gain a minimum one year’s seniority advantage over their peers by passing out of phase 1 training as a Lieutenant RN or Captain RM.

In the Army there are two categories of personnel commissioned from the ranks: Late Entry (LE) Officers and those soldiers who attend the full Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) Commissioning Course before the age of 29 and go on to be treated as Direct Entry (DE) Officers:

Those who commission as LE Officers arrive on a level playing field as their civilian counterparts. They do exactly the same amount of training on commissioning and must attend the Late Entry Officer Course within their first year. There is then no difference in the speed with which they can be promoted up the rank structure.

DE Officers from the Ranks attend the year long Commissioning Course at RMAS and will progress at different speeds depending on their reckonable service. They are allowed to carry forward half of their service in the ranks up to a maximum of four years. This allows those with more reckonable service to be promoted to Captain within 2.5 years of commissioning. This is on a par with graduate officers who can accumulate a maximum of 3.4 years reckonable service in recognition for their academic studies.

In the RAF, non-commissioned personnel who are selected for commissioned service in the general branches are made no allowance in terms of their initial training. If, however, they are entering as a nurse, they undertake the shorter SERE (Specialist Entrant—Re Entrant) course. This recognises their specialist skills and is tailored to the career pathways available to the specialist branches.

Non-commissioned airmen/women are commissioned under the terms set out in the following table:

Former rank1,2

Rank on graduation from IOT

Promotion to Flight Lieutenant after:3,4,5

Flight Sergeant/Chief Technician

Flying Officer

1 year


Flying Officer

18 months


Flying Officer

2 years

Senior Aircraftsman/Junior Technician

Flying Officer

2.5 years

1 All serving airmen and ex-non-commissioned personnel, except those commissioned as graduate entrants iaw para. 0221 will attend Initial Officer Training as Officer Cadets (OCs). Para. 0221 states that: candidates from civil life, serving officers and airmen who hold a qualification equivalent to a degree which is acceptable for graduate entry into one branch may also be eligible for graduate entry into other branches. 2 Former rank also refers to Normal Paid Acting Rank. 3 Serving and ex-non-commissioned personnel entering a ground branch who obtained a degree prior to initially joining the service will have the period of commissioned service they are required to complete before promotion to flight lieutenant reduced by six months. 4 Excludes ex-serving nurses who, in recognition of their professional qualifications, will have their seniority assessed under the provisions of para 0387, which states that: In the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service (PMRAFNS), officers are awarded a time credit for full-time civil nursing experience in a recognized appointment after registration as a Registered General Nurse. Time credits are set against the normal time-promotion progression to assess rank and seniority on entry. Subject to a maximum total of six years they are awarded in accordance with the following scale: (a) The first two years in full. (b) Officers who possess a Registered Nurse Tutors Certificate on entry; the first three years—in full. (c) Any later experience—in half. 5 Or attaining the age of 24, whichever is the later.