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Social impact and cadets - University of Northampton research

The Ministry of Defence (MOD), the Combined Cadet Force Association and CVQO have commissioned the Institute for Social Innovation and Impact at the University of Northampton to undertake a four-year study designed to help understand the social impact of the spending on cadets and the Cadet Expansion Programme, as well as the benefits of the qualifications provided by CVQO.

The interim findings of the independent report, released in October 2017, found that joining the cadets offers a range of benefits to individuals involved and the wider community.

The benefits outlined in the report include increasing social mobility and helping kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.

More specifically the report found that:

  • The social impact of Cadet Forces is vastly greater than the annual cost of the cadet programme to the defence budget.
  • Cadet Forces help children receiving Free School Meals achieve their potential.
  • Children excluded from school who join the Cadets are more likely to have improved attendance and behaviour on their return to school.
  • Cadet Forces help make communities more inclusive by helping people to overcome disadvantages in the way school does not.
  • Serving soldiers who used to be in the Cadets are four times more likely to be a senior non-commissioned officer or an officer.

Meanu Bajwa-Patel, Senior Researcher, The Institute for Social Innovation and Impact, University of Northampton said:

"The evidence so far has been overwhelmingly positive and demonstrates that the Cadet Forces can make a huge difference to social inclusion, social mobility and the mental wellbeing of young people. More research on the Cadet Expansion Programme and Cadet Forces across the devolved nations is planned, allowing us over the next three years to evaluate the social impact further."

The report also found that Cadet Forces help to develop an individual’s communication, confidence and leadership skills, as well as increasing their awareness of the Armed Forces and improves respect for veterans.

The full report is available on the University of Northampton's website

Key Findings to Date

Cadet Forces deliver impact that is directly relevant to the Prime Minister’s vision of a ‘shared society’ and clearly contributes to increasing social mobility and decreasing social disadvantage. Future research will seek to substantiate these early findings and explore the social impact of the Cadet Expansion Programme in state schools across the UK.

  • Cadet Forces are effective at supporting, encouraging and developing cadets who receive Free School Meals to achieve their potential. The potential impact saving to the UK of this is greater than twice the amount spent annually on Cadet Forces.
  • A study carried out in Greater Manchester strongly indicates that young people that have been excluded from school and that join cadets are more likely to improve their attendance and behaviour. The savings to the education budget of these social impacts are potentially huge.
  • The Cadet Forces have a significant impact on making communities more inclusive, it seems that cadet detachments enable people to overcome disadvantages in a way school does not.
  • As the visible face of the Armed Forces in the community, the activities that cadets and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAVs) carry out as they deliver military values, results in increased recognition and awareness of our Armed Forces and improved respect for veterans.
  • There is a very strong belief that CVQO courses have great value for CFAVs. The training offered is particularly useful for those CFAVs with few or no qualifications. The qualifications and awards that CFAVs have gained are estimated as providing the current cohort with potential lifetime earnings increases of £15.58 million*. Additionally, CFAVs gain significant personal and social benefits from their volunteering.
  • Serving soldiers that were cadets have higher self-efficacy and are four times more likely to be a SNCO or officer than non-cadets. They also serve at least six years longer than non-cadets on average.
  • Many of those surveyed said being a cadet had ‘positively’ helped or been very useful to their Army career and reported that the main personality traits that had been developed by their experiences in the Army Cadet Force (ACF) or Combined Cadet Force (CCF) were leadership and self-discipline.
  • The skills of communication, confidence and leadership skills delivered by all Cadet Forces underpin the social impact seen and are valued by cadets, parents, educational organisations, and employers.

*This is based upon an analysis of 338 CFAVs who gained accredited qualifications of NVQ Level 2 or higher. This does not include the other 186,000 qualifications gained since 1965. See Section 4.4 in the Methodology Paper for more information.