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Cadet Units: Schools

Volume 598: debated on Monday 13 July 2015

I am sure that my hon. Friend will have welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement in last week’s Budget of an extra £50 million to expand the number of cadet units in schools to 500 by 2020. That is excellent news and will ensure that more young people get to experience the life-enhancing activities that cadet service brings.

I do, indeed, welcome that excellent investment. I recently met members of the cadets and reserves association for Hereford and Worcester at the Three Counties show, where they told me about their excitement at more state schools being able to host cadets. Will the Minister update me on the progress of that project in Worcestershire?

I am delighted that, in addition to the existing combined cadet force units in Kidderminster and Stourbridge, four more schools in Worcestershire will give their pupils the chance to join a CCF unit as a direct result of the cadet expansion programme: the Tudor Grange academies in Redditch and Worcester have established new units; and North Bromsgrove and South Bromsgrove high schools have forged partnerships with the CCF unit at Bromsgrove school. This is a real success story and I am delighted that many more young people will reap the benefits of belonging to a cadet unit.

Community-based cadet forces heard with great envy about the £50 million of additional funds for school-based cadet units, but what will be the impact of that funding on community-based units? There is great concern that students will be seduced into staying in school, rather than attending community-based units. Some instructors in community-based units are extremely anxious that they will be wound down and lose their important role within their communities.

The hon. Lady is right that the cadet expansion programme applies to schools, and that there are two types of cadet unit. We are absolutely determined that the programme will not have a negative impact on community cadets, and to that end I am looking carefully at how we can continue to enhance the role of our adult volunteers, for example by considering the expansion of Frimley Park, where they are trained.