A SCHOOL in County Durham is seeing a massive increase in its cadet numbers – and teachers say the activities are leaving students more focused in the classroom.

Wolsingham School’s Combined Cadet Force (CCF) was established in 2015 and aims to teach the students a variety of important skills that may have been lost in modern times.

The group is one of the most popular and largely attended extra-curricular activities at Wolsingham School. It has rapidly expanded and increased in popularity, from 16 cadets in September 2018 to the current number of 45 cadets on roll and they are hoping to get nearly ten per cent of the school involved.

The CCF is an educational partnership between the school and the Ministry of Defence. Wolsingham is just one of 17 other schools in the North-East to have such a partnership.

Wolsingham’s CCF offers the cadets a broad range of challenging, adventurous and educational activities, with the aim of enabling the development of personal responsibility, leadership and self-discipline.

Cadets take part in weekly sessions in uniform and have the opportunity to do a wide range of activities including field craft (how to live outdoors), marching drill, weapon handling (how to safely conduct drills using a rifle), first aid, map and compass navigation, physical training, and military skills.

Not only do the students keep fit, but the discipline can often help them to focus in the classroom.

One student said: “When we do outdoor camps, we cook our own food and I actually like the food from the ration packs.”

There are also opportunities to gain recognised qualifications in disciplines like first aid, and the chance to take part in national programmes like the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, which prove highly beneficial on a CV. The weekly sessions are planned and delivered by Lieutenant Davies, second Lieutenant Misiak, second Lieutenant Dye and second Lieutenant Johnson.

Several camps are organised throughout the year for cadets to gain a greater experience. There is also an annual, week-long, residential summer camp.

This year cadets have taken part in their week-long summer camp at Wathgill, Catterick Garrison, a three-day navigation expedition near Hadrian’s Wall, a three day field craft camp at Gandale, Catterick and a three-day skill at arms and leadership training camp at Albemarle Barracks, Northumberland. In 2020 cadets will have the opportunity to attend five weekend camps.

Commander Chris Misiak said: “It makes me very proud to oversee the development, growth and progression of the cadets.”

Miss Misiak, a design technology teacher at the school, has only been commander for two months but has been in the cadets for a year.

Students can join when they are in year eight and get a uniform which they wear on a Thursdays for parade nights.

Head teacher Johnathan Ferstenberg said: “The cadet students are much more engaged in school that is why extra curricula activities are a huge part of what we do.”