Attention! Burnt Mill Academy students take up course in army leadership

Attention! One way of getting the attention of teenagers is to put them in front of an Army Regular.

Students at Burnt Mill Academy, in Harlow, are opting for a unique course as an alternative to the traditional GCSEs.

A bespoke cadet course has been created for the school as it becomes the first in Essex to commit to it as a core option for students.

The course is now an option for students in Year 9 and above to select and includes Army training in –
Basic first aid
Field craft
Drill
Weapons

At the end of the one-year course, students achieve a BTEC Level 1. If they choose to take it for a second year, they will receive advanced training and a BTEC Level 2. After a third year, students can go into a senior role in the Army and train younger peers with an ILM Level 3 Award in leadership and management.

PE teachers Kerry Davies and Jamie Daly are now trained by the Army to deliver the course over 360 minutes each week.

School staff instructor John McFarlane, ex Army Regular, has joined Burnt Mill to support the course.

He said: “The students are coming on great. What is most improved is their attitudes. They are really positive, keen to learn and are putting in the effort.

“Each week, we appoint a duty student who has worked the hardest the week before. They are really keen to get that and are gaining confidence in speaking and giving commands in front of their peers. They are the fundamentals of leadership; they do not realise it, but they are starting to pick them up.

“Everybody is looking at this school now because of the commitment they have given to the cadets. What they are offering is so detailed; the course is unique to Burnt Mill. It is the only school in Essex giving this much time to the course.”

Students spend the day wearing their Army uniform and are looking forward to a calendar of events, including camping, visiting a shooting range and parading in front of parents.

A number of students with special educational needs and disabilities and those who need support with behaviour and emotional issues have opted to take the course.

Miss Davies, head of cadets, said: “We are seeing great feedback from teachers. The course has already helped one student with autism to grow in confidence. His mum has been emailing us regularly to say he seems really keen and is enjoying the course and that his behaviour has improved.

“We are seeing all students try really hard. They are arriving for lessons early, having ironed their own uniforms, and are ready to go. Seeing them improve week by week has been amazing; we did not expect to see that happen so quickly.

“It is something really good for the students who prefer practical lessons. We have got some really academic students taking cadets, as well. It is teaching them all life skills, while still getting a BTEC qualification which will help them to get into sixth form or college.”

Conrad, Year 9, was getting detentions every day when he was in Year 7.

He said: “The minute I heard about the cadets, I changed a lot. My dad said I wouldn’t be able to hack it because of my bad behaviour, so I wanted to prove him wrong. It teaches you discipline.

“I realise now it was a waste of time getting those detentions. I finish my homework on time now and spend more time with my family. I did not used to want to go home as I was always in trouble.

“I have been given an award by my form tutor as the most improved student. My mum was so proud, she started crying.”

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