* The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) was formed in 1948 from the merger of three school-based organisations: the Air Training Corps, the Sea Cadet Corps and the Army Cadet Force.
* 247 schools initially accepted invitations to join the CCF, overseen by an Inter-Services Cadet Committee. Today, the scheme is run by the Ministry of Defence and 253 schools are involved, all but 52 of them independent.
* Around 42,000 children take part, pursuing a mix of extracurricular activities such as summer camps and outward-bound trips, and vocational qualifications through the BTec first diploma and the BTec national diploma in uniformed public services.
* First diploma modules cover topics such as public service fitness, citizenship and expedition skills. Other options include nautical skills, map reading and navigation and, for those undertaking RAF-led courses, flying.
* Enrichment activities include leadership weekends on HMS Bristol; mountaineering courses in the Cairngorms; dinghy instructor courses; and the chance to compete for gap-year British Army commissions and exchanges with the Canadian Army Cadets.
* All CCF units receive training from serving military personnel, and many contingent commanders employed by schools have previously served in the forces. School staff who volunteer to help run CCF programmes are given health and safety training by the MoD. Insurance is overseen by the MoD.
* Guns used in shooting practice are adapted small-bore rifles capable of firing live ammunition. No child is allowed to handle one until he or she has undergone a full weapons-handling assessment by the military.
* Most CCF equipment is loaned by the forces, and many schools subsidise their programmes to avoid charging parents for activities. Some require pupils to supply their own boots and small items of kit.
* The CCF has its own charter, which pledges to help children "develop powers of leadership" to "promote the qualities of responsibility, self-reliance, resourcefulness, endurance, perseverance and a sense of service to the community".
More information at www.armycadets. comacfhome.aspx