Cadet Expansion Programme

The Cadet Expansion Programme is on track to grow the total number of cadet units in schools across the UK to 500 by 2020. 

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There has been an excellent response from state schools around the UK to the Cadet Expansion Programme. Many are now well on the way to establishing their own CCF units.

What is the Cadet Expansion Programme?

The Cadet Expansion Programme (CEP) was launched on Armed Forces Day in June 2012 by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister with the aim to deliver 100 new cadet units in English state-funded schools by September 2015. 

This CEP target was reached 6 months early in March 2015 and following this achievement, the government committed an extra £50 million from LIBOR fines to further increase the number of cadet units in schools across the UK, bringing the total number to 500 by 2020.

The CEP is part of the Government’s aim of promoting military ethos in schools; to instil values in young people that will help them get the most out of their lives, and to contribute to their communities and country. This means pupils developing qualities such as self-discipline, loyalty and respect, strong leadership, teamwork and resilience which will help them achieve excellence and shape their own future. The programme focuses on Combined Cadet Force units ensuring that as many pupils from a state school have the chance to experience the life-enriching activities of military cadets as part of school life - this mirrors the military activity offered in many of the best independent schools in the country.

The scheme also offered the opportunity for schools to set up a Sea Cadets unit.

While the first 100 new CEP units were demand-led, the more recent phase of expansion, running up to 2020, had a more targeted approach, with priority given to those in less affluent areas and in areas where there was limited access to the cadet experience.  The Cadet Expansion Joint Team was also particularly interested in certain types of educational establishments such as those with post-16 provision (including Multi-Academy Trusts with sixth form provision). 

The Team has now received sufficient expressions of interest for it to be confident of meeting its 2020 target. 

Benefits of the CEP

Schools that have set up cadet units have seen significant benefits for their young people, their schools and the local community. Head teachers tell us that they have seen significant improvement in attendance and behaviour, improvement in attainment, commitment, self-confidence and discipline and that relationships between staff and students have improved. This creates positive benefits in all areas of school life including the character skills strongly valued by employers such as leadership, teamwork, communication, integrity and career progression.

The interim findings of an independent report, compiled by the University of Northampton, who undertook research across the entire cadet programme (including the CCF), has found that joining the cadets offers a range of benefits to individuals involved and the wider community.

The full report can be read in full on the University of Northampton's website.  

The CEP will help give more young people the life skills and self-confidence to take charge of their lives so they can reach their full potential at school and beyond, including in employment. All pupils whatever their background or circumstances should have access to this opportunity.

Hear from the headteachers at schools with new CCFs about the benefits their schools have experienced, and their success stories so far.


The development opportunities that cadet forces offer make an important contribution to the Government’s wider youth policies, with benefits accruing to young people drawn from all sectors of society. Extending the scheme in state schools will allow more young people to benefit from the cadet experience in a school context. It will help them develop into well-rounded, accomplished adults fully prepared for life beyond school.  

We know many schools with cadet forces have a partnership or collaboration arrangements with neighbouring schools to allow more young people to take part. We want to see more partnerships that will allow schools to share their expertise and facilities for the benefit of all and we hope that all new units will benefit from support and encouragement from established units.

If you are an existing CCF interested in partnering with a new CCF, get in touch with the Cadet Expansion Joint Team at  to discuss the possibilities. 

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Case Study:

Brentwood and Westcliffe High School for Boys Partnership