MP calls for cadet forces in all schools

CADET forces could be made a part of secondary schools if proposals put forward by Stamford and Bourne MP Quentin Davies go ahead.

Mr Davies has produced 40 recommendations in a Govern-ment-backed study designed to improve the public's recognition of the military.

And he believes more schools across the country should be encouraged to set up combined cadet forces to enable young people to understand more about the military, get more exercise and learn the values of discipline.

Mr Davies said: "It gives the opportunity for young people to learn team effort, engage in purposeful and physical activity and there are enormous lasting benefits.

"We have a very successful cadet force at Stamford School and it would be nice to have more state schools providing cadets around Lincolnshire."

"We believe, therefore, that there needs to be a cross-Government consensus to ensure that as many children as possible can benefit from these opportunities."

Stamford Endowed Schools have the largest voluntary combined cadet force in the UK.

Principal Peter Mason said: "The cadet force encourages motivation and commitment, with girls and boys equally involved. I would certainly recommend it to other schools but it does requires high quality leadership and staff commitment."

John Burke is a 2nd lieutenant and leader of Bourne's Army Cadets, which attracts about 40 youngsters a week.

He said: "As a kid I was a cadet and it's helped me get where I am today.

"The benefits are that it teaches people self-reliance, self-discipline and leadership skills. You can also get qualifications."

Mr Davies also wants to introduce an Armed Forces Day public holiday to provide a chance to remember servicemen and women across the board. It could be on a Friday or Monday at the end of June.

Another recommendation is to make discrimination against servicemen in uniform a criminal offence. It follows incidents where military personnel have been intimidated and abused. Recently RAF Wittering personnel were banned from wearing their uniform in Peterborough.

Mr Davies said: "People are prepared to lay down their lives for their community. The idea that they can't wear their uniform is nauseating and unacceptable. We can't have the incidents which occurred in Peterborough happening again."

Mr Davies' report, which has been accepted in principle, is being scrutinised by Government officials.

Armed forces minister Bob Ainsworth has welcomed the recommendations. He said: "This report provides firm foundations to ensure that the work of our armed forces is better understood and recognised."