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A cadet force for good

Judith Watson ("March of cadets is way out of step", TES, June 17), like many staff, has seen or heard of just a small part of what the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) does, and formed an opinion based solely on this.

The CCF offers diverse training that builds a cadet's confidence, discipline, leadership and self-reliance - qualities that many organisations, such as the ambulance service and fire brigade, would find useful.

In terms of rifle training a cadet is taught first how to be safe with the rifle and then the skill of firing it at a target. This is a skill recognised by the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme and is also an Olympic sport.

"Kids with guns" does, of course, remain a contentious subject but my belief is that the CCF takes away the novelty of guns and educates children about their dangers.

CCF members have no commitment whatsoever to the armed forces and so I do not believe joining it is "at odds with this country's responsibilities under the United Nations convention on the rights of the child". Anyway, this country does not recruit children into its armed forces.

Perhaps Ms Watson should join me on this year's summer camp where the staff and cadets will work 16-hour days for a week. After this I will happily take on board criticisms of the CCF.

Captain Keith Davenport

Commanding officer Army section St Ignatius College CCF Enfield London

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