The ‘real’ Royal Navy has four operational arms: the surface fleet, the sub-surface fleet (submarines), a land-based attack force (the Royal Marines) and an air assault team (the Fleet Air Arm).
At King Edward’s School, the Royal Naval Section of the Combined Cadet Force tries to reflect all four of these areas of interest, giving it a great range of activities. Our ‘surface’ activities include kayaking, power boating and sailing. While we have no access to submarines, a scuba diving programme is in place with training and trips organised by School staff.
Our Royal Naval cadet syllabus includes military training such as weapons handling and shooting, camouflage and concealment, and survival in the field, as well as an understanding of life at sea. This is combined with the ongoing outdoor activities programme of climbing, orienteering and navigation on land and sea. For flying tuition, boys are taken to RNAS Yeovilton at regular intervals, and one of our ex-cadets is currently training as a Royal Navy pilot.
As well as training within the School and expeditions weekends twice a year (one of which offers adventurous training, the other is spent on board a moored Destroyer in Portsmouth), cadets also have the opportunity to attend Navy camps and courses over the summer, which offer an impressive range of activities and are run by regular forces staff.
A recent and valuable addition has been our link with the CCF Royal Naval Section at Selly Oak Trust School for students with moderate learning difficulties. This is the only such partnership in the country and has been the source of mutual enrichment. Selly Oak cadets are full members of the KES contingent; they pursue their own programme of training on a weekly basis, but join us regularly for shooting, kayaking, and physical activities, and play a full part in our Annual General inspection parade.
All of the above is the means by which boys learn leadership, communication, teamwork, strategic planning and, most importantly, to ‘adapt, improvise and overcome’. They leave the Section as mature, self-reliant and, above all, justifiably self-confident young men.
King Edward’s School has a strong programme of sub-aqua diving. The scuba programme is run under the guidance of experienced staff from the Combined Cadet Force, including an Open Water Instructor, a Divemaster, and several other qualified divers.
Our programme begins each academic year with the chance for Year 10 pupils to experience a ‘try-dive’ in our swimming pool with instructors from a local scuba school. If they like it, they can move on to the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Open Water Diver course, which qualifies them to dive to 18m with a buddy. However, they are only beginners at this stage, and we offer a number of local trips and experiences to improve their capabilities. The highlight of the year is the annual diving expedition, a regular destination for which is Gozo in the Maltese Islands.
KES turns out between eight and 16 qualified divers each year, and also accommodates those who have trained elsewhere but wish to further their experience. Two of our recent cadets are now Divemasters, and many have continued their diving at university and beyond.