March 26th 2020



School Cadet Expansion Officers receive their certificates

The Government’s Cadet Expansion Programme has reached its record breaking 500th Cadet Unit parading in schools across the UK.  Mark Alker, School Cadets Expansion Officer (SCEO) for the East Midlands, was presented with a certificate marking the success, along with SCEOs from other regions.

The Department for Education and Ministry of Defence originally announced the Cadet Expansion Programme (CEP) back in 2012, setting a target of 100 Cadet Units parading in schools by 2015.

The CEP was set up by the government to equip young men and women with unique experiences and skills which can help them in their day to day life. The units teach young people transferable skills that will help them with their career goals, in whatever field that may be.

Cep reaches 500

Army Cadets

With the original programme smashing the 100 school target, a new target was set in July 2015, aiming to reach 500 cadet units by May 2020. The programme focused on state schools in more deprived areas. This target was reached 5 months early.

On behalf of the Ministry of Defence, to honour this achievement, the Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, awarded School Cadet Expansion Officer (SCEO’s) within the Cadet Expansion Programme Team a recognition award.

Mark Alker, a retired RAF Squadron leader, has been the SCEO for the East Midlands since the inception of the scheme in 2012. He manages 17 Army Cadet contingents and 4 RAF contingents.  Mark is one of 12 SCEO’s who cover each Reserve Forces and Cadets Association around the UK, that each received the recognition award.

Having met the target of 500, SCEO’s were extended in post for another 2 years as the emphasis moves towards the sustainment of units and developing growth in Cadet numbers. With currently around 800 Cadets in the East Midlands, Mark’s aim is to reach 1,200 in the coming years.  There is a national aspiration of 60,000 Cadets in schools, set at a recent Combined Cadet Force Headmasters’ Conference in Coventry.

Education Secretary commented: “We want every young person to feel like they can be part of something rewarding and Cadets offer young people the opportunity to build vital life skills including teamwork and resilience. The units help young people to grow in confidence, build loyalty and respect, and develop a sense of service to others.”

A recent 4 year study from the University of Northampton found that joining an Army Cadet unit provides multiple benefits to an individual and their surrounding communities.  The report also found that being a member of the Army Cadet Forces can:

  • Improve motivation
  • Improve school attendance, behaviour and attitude
  • Increase an individual’s belief in oneself to complete specific tasks

Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Mark Lancaster said: “This is an excellent milestone for the Cadet Expansion Programme. These new units will help deliver on the Government’s commitment that students from all backgrounds should be able to enjoy the rewards of joining the Cadets.”

To learn more about the Cadet Expansion Programme visit:

To find a Cadet Unit near you click here.

Cadet unit in school

Cadet unit learning CPR

“The programme has gone from strength to strength, demonstrating the benefits we see in those young people who gain such important, practical and useful skills and experiences."
- Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace