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Best CCF in the UK

We were very proud to be selected by The Week as the Best CCF in the UK among independent schools in their 2020 awards.  The judges commented:

Pupils have the choice of joining either the Army, Navy or Marine sections, all of which make the most of Canford’s location and proximity to the Dorset coast.  The School has its own assault course, a rifle range and climbing wall and the CCF also runs courses in power boating, mountain biking, first aid, kayaking and clay pigeon shooting. Cadets can take part in the Ten Tors challenge, survival training and expeditions further afield, such as tall ships sailing along the south coast, cross – country skiing in Norway or diving in the Red Sea.”


The CCF is there to expand horizons, offer new experiences and enable pupils to achieve much of what they thought that would be beyond them, whilst developing important personal, teamwork and leadership skills.

As part of the Enterprise system designed to give pupils a wider experience and develop their communication skills, leadership and confidence, Canford runs a number of ventures, one of which is the Combined Cadet Force or CCF.   Alongside the options of Army, Navy and Marines from Fourth Form, the CCF department offers Fifth Form pupils a range of other skills development courses such as diving, power-boating and clay-pigeon shooting.

During my four years in the CCF I have had many unique opportunities and invaluable experiences which have undoubtedly left many a Canfordian far more competitive, confident and ready to give anything a go.

Daniel Wilkinson, former Head Boy

From their Fourth Form onwards, pupils undertake an enterprise on a Monday afternoon. 80% of pupils join the CCF with an option to continue in the Sixth Form, assisting with the training, where they gain valuable experience in leadership, management and instructing.  Around 20% stay on in the Sixth Form and become NCOs.

The Corps runs three sections; Army (50%), Royal Marines (30%) and the Royal Navy (20%), totalling 270 cadets. The emphasis of the Corps seeks to develop a cadet's personal confidence, motivation and leadership in a variety of arenas catering for individual tastes. The school is fortunate to have an assault course, a rifle range, a 10 m climbing wall and extensive grounds within the campus. Weekly activities in these areas are supplemented by a number of off-site trips and expeditions.  One weekend is given over to the Enterprise schemes each term and this sees almost all the cadets deploying to various training areas from Dartmoor to the Purbecks through to Portsmouth to camp, exercise (military manoeuvres), adventure train, shoot or prepare for various competitions such as Ten Tors. In addition, cadets take part in at least one course, expedition or camp in their first year.  Adventure training in Snowdonia, annual summer camps in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, cross country skiing in Norway and ski racing in the Alps as well as diving in various exotic locations have been among the options in recent years.

New Outdoor Education Centre - opened 2020

Facilities for the CCF have always been impressive, but the recently opened Outdoor Education Centre offers a modern, purpose-built dedicated building for briefings and equipment storage alongside a new 5 lane rifle range.  Ideally situated next to the school assault course and just a short jog from the school’s wooded areas perfect for combat training, the new centre complements the flourishing CCF offering at the school.

Lieutenant Colonel Dan Culley is delighted with the latest developments:

“Our Outdoor Activities and Challenges programme is integral to the co-curricular education at Canford and provides pupils of all abilities a crucial opportunity to develop their core skills. The emphasis in this context is placed on offering significant challenges and demanding activities, each of which will generate a real sense of achievement whilst optimising the learning process and imbuing valuable life skills. Most pupils opt to join the CCF and benefit enormously accordingly.

Other courses run by the CCF department

A variety of other courses are available within the CCF from Fifth Form including diving, power-boating, expedition skills, kayaking, climbing, clay-pigeon shooting, first aid, leadership, drumming (marching band), Duke of Edinburgh expeditions and survival.

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