A COMMUNITY is being called to arms to help form the first state-school based cadet force in the region.

Staff and students are being mobilised at Darlington School of Mathematics and Science to form a combined cadet force (CCF).

But the potentially life-changing initiative needs the backing of sponsors to finance operations.

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CCFs are traditionally associated with independent schools.

They have a track record of boosting self-esteem and self-reliance and equipping students with a host of life abilities including punctuality, leadership and social skills.

On a practical level the organisation also helps young people tackle the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and can lead to qualifications in areas such as navigation and First Aid.

Liz Green, North of England Reserve Forces and Cadets Association school expansion officer, said: “The Government wants to expand CCFs in the state sector because they provide opportunities for young people to develop a host of skills which could boost their employability.

“Units become extended family with cadets forming bonds which last a lifetime and they develop some amazing transferable skills which can’t fail to impress potential employers.”

The scheme requires £225 a year per cadet to pay for uniforms, resources and staff training. Units work in the community with a variety of organisations including charities and their local Army Reserve Unit.

They attend an annual camp in the summer to hone and develop team, leadership, outdoor and sporting skills.

George Plumb, 15, who hopes to be an officer in the Royal Artillery one day, said: “Being a cadet teachers you all sorts of useful skills whether you want to joined the Army or not.

“You learn about team-building and other skills, you make new friends and form strong bonds. I think all young people would benefit from it.”

For more details, email ne-sceo@rfca.mod.uk or call 0191-383-6257.