Working Life: Ian Peaple helps schoolchildren acquire cadet skills

Rather than going into schools screaming, shouting and getting the students to do star jumps, we try to have fun with them. But there is a military ethos behind our work.

Ian Peaple
Ian Peaple

Rather than going into schools screaming, shouting and getting the students to do star jumps, we try to have fun with them. But there is a military ethos behind our work.

CVQO (formerly Cadet Vocational Qualification Organisation) extended its offering from the uniformed cadet movement to youth organisations and schools after it was recognised that the skills gained by young people in the cadet forces - such as team-building, leadership, communication and problem-solving - would help pre-GCSE students who are struggling at school to get back on track with their studies. The Schools Partnership Project programme that I work on was established to help these children who might have behavioural issues or are lacking in confidence.

A fellow instructor and I work with four schools in Wiltshire and Hampshire, taking groups of up to 14 children out of the classroom for one day a week over a 12-week course. I like the freshness of working in different schools and meeting a variety of people. I also work from home one day a week to plan sessions and do admin.

Our day starts with warm-up games, but the programme is flexible, depending on students' needs. It's great when students who have low confidence start to join in and even voice opinions. One student was so shy when she started that she stared at the floor, but by the end of the course she took part in the final presentation to parents and teachers.

The work can be challenging, such as deciding how best to divide trouble-makers, but I don't know many jobs where you get paid to show young people how to light fires with a flint, build dens and climb trees.

It's exciting to see the satisfaction when a student manages to get over their fear of heights and ring the bell at the top of a 40ft tree, or cook a meal for the first time. Many gain self-esteem from realising that they can look after themselves and from working together.

Ian Peaple is a schools partnership project instructor at the education charity CVQO

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