Page last updated at 16:17 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 17:17 UK

State pupils urged to join cadets

cadets marching
Cadets take part in military themed activities

More school pupils are being encouraged to join the cadets and experience the discipline of a military life.

Schools ministers Lord Adonis believes being a cadet can foster confidence, self-reliance and resourcefulness.

Teaching union Voice believes widening cadet membership could help improve pupil behaviour and self-discipline.

Opponents see it as a soft way of introducing pupils to the idea of an army career, but ministers deny this.

The Ministry of Defence, which has overall responsibility for the Combined Cadet Force, said this increased access to cadet force places was was in no way an underhand recruitment policy.

'Valuable attributes'

Derek Twigg, Under Secretary of State for Defence, said thanks to a new scheme more school children will now have the opportunity to feel the benefits of the cadet system, building discipline, respect and professionalism.

It was part of a cross-government strategy to improve support to the Armed Forces, their families and Veterans, he added.

This calls for more cadet places to made available to secondary pupils in deprived areas and Academies.

There are 132,000 young people in cadet forces and 200 community based cadet forces in secondary schools in the UK.

The first stage of this new initiative will see six partnerships between state schools and nearby independent schools which already have a Combined Cadet Force.

A further six partnerships are in the process of being drawn up.

Cadets take part in military themed activities such as training and assault courses, first aid and learning how to handle rifles and dismantle weapons.

Lord Adonis said cadets could be a real force for good in our schools.

"The experience provides not only fun, healthy activities for young people but they also encourage valuable personal attributes, help to build skills and, using military themes based upon the culture and ethos of the single Services, foster confidence, self reliance, initiative, resourcefulness, loyalty and a sense of service to others."

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