Not every cadet will be promoted to Corporal and beyond (see ‘Ranks‘ to learn more), but all cadets are able to progress through the training syllabus and attain various levels of cadet classification. A further scheme of progressive training was launched in March 2017, and information on this new scheme is available towards the bottom of this page.

Junior Cadet/Second Class Cadet

Cadets are classified as Junior Cadets during their probationary period, once formally enrolled on the squadron they are known as Second Class Cadets. No badge is awarded for these two classifications, but a certificate of enrolment will be awarded noting the advancement from Junior Cadet to Second Class Cadet.

First Class Cadet

To qualify as a First Class Cadet you must complete training in 7 mandatory subjects and attain a basic standard of foot drill. This is designed to give you a good level of general knowledge about the ATC and the RAF, it will also introduce the key fundamental principles and skills you will need as an Air Cadet.

The topics studied at First Class Level are:

  • The Air Training Corps
  • The Royal Air Force History of Flight
  • Basic Principles of Airmanship
  • Map Reading
  • Initial Expedition Training
  • Basic Radio Communication
  • Basic Foot Drill

There are no formal examinations at this level, however instructors will verbally check understanding during training sessions and assist Cadets in the completion of their training log book. Cadets deemed to have successfully completed the syllabus will be awarded the First Class Star Badge for their brassard, and a certificate of training.

Leading Cadet

To qualify as a Leading Cadet you must undertake further training in three key subjects. The training at Leading level is more in depth than at First Class, and is formally assessed by multiple choice examinations online, using the Air Cadet Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). These examinations will culminate in a graded pass for the cadet who can be awarded either a Pass, Credit or Distinction.

The topics studied at Leading level are:

  • Principles of Flight
  • Airmanship Knowledge
  • Basic Navigation (Map & Compass)

Cadets successfully passing the Leading Cadet examinations are awarded the Leading Cadet Propeller Badge for their brassard, and a certificate of training. Achievement of the Leading Cadet classification is a significant milestone for a cadet, it is a prerequisite for promotion to Cadet Corporal, and many of the more exciting Corps courses stipulate a pass a Leading.

Senior Cadet

To qualify as a Senior Cadet you must study three subjects from the list below. The training at Senior level is more in depth than at Leading, but is formally assessed in the same manner utilising the VLE. Performance in the examinations will result in a graded pass for the cadet who can be awarded either a Pass, Credit or Distinction.

The topics available to study at Senior level are:

  • Air Navigation
  • Pilot Navigation
  • Aircraft Handling
  • Piston Engine Propulsion
  • Jet Engine Propulsion
  • Rocketry Propulsion
  • Avionics
  • Airframes
  • Satellite and Data Comms
  • Military Aircraft Systems
  • Air Power

Cadets successfully passing the three Senior Cadet examinations are awarded the Senior Cadet Badge, which is a combination of the ‘First Class Star’ and the ‘Leading Propeller’, and a certificate of training. Achievement of the Senior Cadet classification is usually a prerequisite for promotion to a Cadet Sergeant, it is also the desired classification for Flight Staff Cadets on Volunteer Gliding Squadrons.

Master Cadet

To qualify as a Master Air Cadet you must study a further three subjects from the Senior Cadet list. This aims to broaden your knowledge in a wide range of aerospace topics. These are assessed formally using the VLE as per the arrangements for Leading and Senior Cadet examinations.

Successful completion of the MAC syllabus represents the end of your academic training in the Air Training Corps. You will be awarded the Master Air Cadet Badge for your brassard, and a certificate of training. You will also be awarded with a BTEC Certificate in Aviation Studies, this is a nationally recognised qualification equivalent to 2 GCSE’s.

Achievement of the MAC Classification is a pre-requisite for certain courses, and for promotion to Cadet Warrant Officer.

Further Training

Once a cadet has successfully qualified as a Master Air Cadet, they become eligible for further specialist training. Completion of these training courses is signified by a coloured lanyard, worn over the cadets left shoulder. Only one lanyard may be worn, so if a cadet qualifies for more than one then they must display the senior qualification only.

Instructor Cadet

Qualified Master Air Cadets can elect to undertake further training and complete the Cadet methods of instruction (CMOI) course. The CMOI course teaches the cadet how to plan and deliver a lesson, and culminates with the cadet planning and delivering an assessed lecture presentation on a given subject.

Cadets successfully completing this course are awarded the yellow Instructor Cadet lanyard, and are expected to deliver training on the Squadron. This could involve delivering elements of the classification syllabus to younger Cadets or providing instruction in a specialist area such as adventure training.

Qualified Aerospace Instructor Cadet (QAIC)

Qualified Master Air Cadets can also apply for a place on the prestigious Qualified Aerospace Instructor Cadet course.

The course is run over several months, with one training weekend per month between September and April and coursework to be completed at home via the QAIC Sharepoint Server. It culminates with a week-long residential assessment. The course is very academically demanding and requires a huge level of commitment as well as organisation skills to juggle course work with school or University studies. Cadet ranks are set aside during the programme and each student is given a call-sign or nickname which is used the training and events. Standard uniform for the course is a flight suit with unique course patches.

The QAI Course covers a wide range of subjects, these are; Leadership and Teamwork, Project Management, Inter-personal Skills, Public Speaking, Air Navigation, Flight Simulation, Air Traffic Control Simulation, Aerodynamic Principles, Air Power knowledge & understanding and the completion of the Foundation Radio License.

The purpose of the course is to prepare instructors to run aerospace courses on the Squadron and the various Regional Activity Centres (RAC’s) opening all over the country, with our local RAC being located at MOD Boscombe Down.

Junior Leaders Course (JL)

Suitably qualified cadets may also apply for a place on the demanding Air Cadet Junior Leaders (JL) Course. To be eligible for selection a cadet must…

  • Be at least 17 years of age on at the start of the selection weekend (usually the first weekend in Sep).
  • Be at least Cadet Sgt. Have passed the Master Air Cadet examination
  • Be qualified on the L98A2 Cadet General Purpose Rifle (preferable but not essential)
  • Have previously attended a Leadership Course (preferable but not essential)
  • Have completed a First Aid Qualification (preferable but not essential)

The JL course consists of nine weekend training camps and culminates with a week long assessment camp. A large proportion of the training is conducted in the field, using military skills and scenarios. It runs between September and April each year and provides training in leadership, management and life skills for Cadet SNCOs aged 17 years or above.

Successful students are awarded the maroon Junior Leaders lanyard and a special DZ Flash for their DPM Uniform, they will also receive, at no extra cost, the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Level 2 Certificate in Team Leading.

Progressive Training

Introduced on 1st March 2017, the scheme intends to demonstrate the progressive nature of Air Cadet life outside the usual classification training, and has revised many existing badges and the criteria so that these are achievable by 12 year old cadets; for instance, the Blue Duke of Edinburgh’s Award badge, which is only available to Air Cadets, is awarded for training in preparation for joining the full award scheme when in Year 9 of Secondary school.