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Roland Martin - Issue #52


Roland Martin

May 16 · Issue #52 · View online

Headmaster - City of London Freemen's school; Chief Officer - City of London; Chair - Society of Heads - '...write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing' Benjamin Franklin

Be Responsible

On parade
On Friday, I had the pleasure of inspecting our CCF - combined cadet force - alongside an impressive alumnus, Wing Commander James Freeborough (Class of ‘93), responsible for choreographing the flypast for Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday. It was a privilege to stand side by side with him - an inspiring member of the Freemen’s community, reconnected with the School as result of the outward looking work of our fledgling Alumni office. And I was delighted that he was so positive about his first experience back with us for some time.
Of course, in his day, the CCF as we know it did not exist; he did say he wished it had, but the corps operating out of Freemen’s every week is only four years’ old.
Initially set up to enable students from Epsom’s Glyn Academy to join with Freemen’s pupils, we have a core body of dedicated staff, committed to delivering this opportunity to children, week in, week out, while also taking students away for meaningful expeditions and weekend camps over holidays. 
History of the CCF in schools
Since 1860, schools have offered their students the option of joining the corps; some 210 out of the 260 schools are independent; most make participation voluntary rather than compulsory, nowadays. Once known as the Officer Training Corps, the schools based organisation combined with sea cadets and air training corps, and consequently changing its name, in 1948. More than 40,000 cadets participate around the country across all three contingents, occasionally with marines added in too - at Freemen’s we stick with army and air force, though that is a Government funding decision rather than a preference. 
The corps as we see it today is quite different from the early public school models who fed into the armed forces. As the CCF website puts it, they are ‘still based on the ethos of the Armed Forces - their focus is on helping young people to develop and reach their full potential by providing challenging, active, adventurous and fun activities.’ There’s a whole range of different activities on offer, it’s not just the marching in baggy uniforms and hurling oneself off a cliff that a certain Mr Clarkson remembered in his Collected Times columns, The World According to Jeremy Clarkson. Now, the ‘adventure’ aspect is most celebrated; indeed the CCF itself is running a photography competition for its members, around just that theme (closing date October, if you’re interested, corps members).
The CCF works in partnership with the MOD, in schools, and as their website puts it, the CCF offers ‘unparalleled opportunities … in terms of team-building, leadership, citizenship’,
Whether one supports military training in schools or not, the fact remains that there is a great deal to be said for the discipline and leadership opportunities which the CCF affords. I was immensely proud on Friday on parade and at the corps dinner that evening to see some of our young people stepping up to the plate as non-commissioned officers (NCOs) - quite an achievement, and quite a responsibility, to which they have raised having joined as junior members lower down the school.
Not only do students connect with the past and present local communities - the partnership between Freemen’s and Glyn is a great example of this, as is the now annual Remembrance Day band and parade, the roll of honour read aloud to mark the lives of our alumni lost at war - the staff have shown themselves to be glad to engage. Outward looking teachers, happy to connect with other outside of their classrooms, when we welcomed inner city children from Eastside Young Leaders’ Academy to Freemen’s one Saturday morning, two adults from the corps came forward to volunteer their time. There’s a lot to be said for an open door when teaching, and there’s more to be said for a metaphorical open door from our point of view, as a school: outreach like this is extremely important. And it’s the right thing for independent schools to be doing.
The CCF website makes much of the social impact that the corps can bring about and this was articulated skilfully by my Head of Geography who had to stand in at late notice as Contingent Commander in a speech linking the work that the CCF has been doing with our own wider School aim: To Learn, To Lead, To Make a Difference
We trust our children to take such strong leadership roles - the NCOs take an active role leading marching drills, delivering training at the unit, checking uniform, and maintaining standards of behaviour, falling under the headings of drill, dress and deportment. If we hope to educate tomorrow’s leaders today it must be worth watching this (CCF drill) space.
If you are sharing this blog with your year 7/year 8 children, unsure themselves of whether or not to join the CCF, they might enjoy the following rather humorous quiz:
Quiz: Should you join the Combined Cadet Force? - Telegraph
We have a healthy balance of boys and girls at Freemen’s and Glyn taking part; the corps is in a very healthy place as witnessed by our special guest of honour last week.
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