Proud parents and teaching staff watched as students of Manchester Academy’s new ACF detachment received their berets and cap-badges to mark their sponsorship by the British Army’s Adjutant General’s Corps (Staff and Personnel Support) – AGC (SPS).
The formation of this detachment in November last year marked the continuation of a determined drive by the academy to provide diverse extra-curricular activities for its 1,000 students.
Principal, Kathy August explained: “There was a piece of research done a couple of years ago which demonstrated that youngsters do better if they are involved in extra-curricular activities which are structured. We were looking for structured activities that would take them off the streets and give them something positive to do in their spare time, and the Army Cadet Force seemed a sensible idea."
It has taken a bit of time but I am absolutely delighted that we have got it and I was so pleased with the response. We thought there would be about a dozen youngsters interested at first but in the event, when we first opened, there were over 30. We have whittled that down to 25, but there they are now coming twice a week instead of once that we originally planned.”
The school welcomed representatives from the Adjutant General’s Corps, including the Regimental Colonel, Colonel John Ward, as well as members of Greater Manchester Army Cadet Force, which will administer the new detachment. The Pipes and Drums of Greater Manchester ACF performed before the cadets proudly stood on parade to receive their AGC (SPS) berets. All ACF detachments are sponsored by Army units or Corps – this is the first time that AGC (SPS) has sponsored a detachment.
Colonel Les Webb, Commandant of Greater Manchester ACF, said: “Manchester Academy is a flagship academy and is very forward thinking. I think what is happening in this academy is what is going to happen in other places in the future. Not all children respond to the traditional idea of classroom education. We, the ACF, find that with teaching in a structured Army way, some youngsters really respond to that. There is a great advantage to having a cadet detachment within such a forward thinking school.”
The Army Cadet Force is the Army’s youth organisation, which aims to develop young people and improve their life skills through military-themed activities. Cadets wear uniform and get opportunity to learn new skills and qualifications, as well as have lots of fun. The ACF is NOT a recruiting organisation for the Army, although many cadets do go on to join either the Regular or Reserve forces in adult life.
This is a milestone year for the Cadet Forces – the cadet movement is celebrating is 150th anniversary year during 2010.
By Neal Strickland