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Joining as a Junior Soldier?

(11 Posts)
GnomeDePlume Wed 26-Sep-12 22:37:19

DS is only 14 so a little way to go yet. He is in Army Cadets, loves it and wants to join the Army.

Applying to join as a Junior Soldier would be an option for him.

Is it a good option?

Any experience, views or comments please?

ThinkingItThrough Thu 27-Sep-12 05:49:42

Hi - I'm afraid I don't know but have similar dilemma with 15 yr old son who is an air cadet and interested in joining forces. I know there is Welbeck College in Leics which acts as part Forces officer training and part private residential sixth form college. If your son is likely to get extremely good GCSE grades he can appply for sponsorship there through one of the forces or for the civil service somehow. Fees for forces sponsored places are several thousand and for a private place about 18,000! Details are on the website if you google it. So if you have the cash (and he is academically and leadership inclined), going through the forces option is a relative bargain.

Sadly my son isn't predicted those grades (nor do we have the cash anyway!) so have been trying to find entry options for lower ranks. I think all of the three forces will take them at 17/18 but seems as if they have to decide on a trade first and follow it though that way. My son's cadet leader has advised looking forward to a time when they have left the forces and choosing a trade that has value and is transferable to civilian life - sounds good advice.

We are currently trying to work out what to do for sixth form though - try A levels through school or a course at FE college - maybe one of the Uniformed Services Courses that prepare for Police, Fire, Forces etc but not sure how well these are regarded as qualifications esp. if they change their mind about what they want to do later.

Sorry no proper answer about the junior soldier bit but thought it might help to know others struggling with this one too! Good luck!

GnomeDePlume Thu 27-Sep-12 08:34:27

Certainly at the moment Welbeck isnt the direction DS wants to take. He wants to join infantry or Royal Armoured Corp. I know that it is possible to apply to join up at 16. If successful he would then do a year at AFC Harrogate. In that time they would pay him!

What I dont know is how good this time is as preparation for the Army. What the atmosphere is like. Is bullying rife? Is there good pastoral care. What are they looking for from applicants?

At the moment I feel we know the practicalities but not the 'soft' stuff.

GnomeDePlume Thu 27-Sep-12 19:26:43

ThinkingItThrough, I thought this link might be of interest to your DS:

Good luck to your son in whatever he decides to do.

BananasAndClottedCream Fri 28-Sep-12 17:25:59

Hi Gnome,

My dh is a careers advisor in the army so feel free to throw any questions my way and he also did a year at Harrogate himself.
Your ds can join at 16, the earliest he can start the application is 15 and 7 months. If he was to go to Harrogate he would follow the common military syllabus (recruit) which would be padded out with adventure training and key skills ( literacy, numeracy and ict). They spend more time going over the military training then he would as an older recruit. The structure is the same as a regular unit but their first point of contact would be their section commander (a corporal).
In regards to what they are looking for, physically fit, confident, leadership ability and more and more the army is looking for people with an academic ability so work hard at GCSE. The cadets is a good way to get experience as the ethos of cadets mirrors those of the British army.

If there's anything else you want to know/ask let me know and I will quiz dh smile

GnomeDePlume Fri 28-Sep-12 17:38:11

Many thanks Bananas!

I do have a few questions (so apologies to your DH!)

How does having started as a Junior Soldier impact on future career in the Army? Do JS transition well into the regular service and training?

At the moment DS is keen to join infantry or Royal Armoured Corp. Would he be able to change if later on he wanted to go in a different direction?

What is the competition like to get into AFC Harrogate?

If your DH had his time again is there anything he would do differently from the start?

Please thank your DH from me for any information he can give.

BananasAndClottedCream Fri 28-Sep-12 21:09:13

I've gotten DH to write a reply out for you,
Joining the army as a junior entry soldier has no effect on career potential as soldiers reach their regiment at around the same time; if anything those who go though AFC Harrogate have a greater chance as they have honed their skills over 42 weeks as a posed to 14 at ATC Pirbright for those joining a Corp or 28 Weeks at ITC Catterick for those going infantry.
What jobs are available for him to do will be dictated by his GCSE’s mainly Maths, English and Science at “C” and above; and the score on his BARB test known as the General Trainability Index. Every job is equated to this scale for technical merit. The more technical jobs as you would expect are higher up the scale 50+.
All jobs within the army offer a front line role so it is good not to just focus on being infantry. Lots of research is a good idea from the jobs he is eligible to do. The joining process as it stands makes an applicant research their options and then they are tested during their formal interviews. The final part of the process is to sign the offer letter stating that they are choosing a job and if they later regret that decision then there is no option to change regiment or corp. However latter in a soldier’s career, usually beyond the minimum 4 years the army does offer internal transfers but it is at the needs of the army first then the soldier. Having spent thousands training a soldier after 4 to 6 years the army is more inclined to find a job for them than lose their skills.
When you pass selection you get a grade A-D which produces a pecking order for you chosen job. Job pools are divided between junior and standard intakes so you are only up against those in the JE or SE pools respectively. If there are limited places in an intake then it is the grade and underpinning score that dictates who is allocated to the slots. There is also a time factor. The higher the grade the further out someone can be allocated to a slot. The final thing is all those aged 16-17/17.5 will go JE to Harrogate for Phase 1 training. Aged 17-17.5 you have the option to choose to go SE and all those ages 17.5+ will go SE to either ATC or ITC respectively.
If I had my time again I would have stuck at my GCSE’s and got the grades I was predicted, which would have opened doors for me. I would have probably chosen a job that has a trade or more technical merit. When it comes to going though AFC Harrogate I have no regrets and would recommend it to anyone.

Hope thats not too much for you to take in!

GnomeDePlume Fri 28-Sep-12 22:07:51

Banana's DH - thank you very much indeed!

I will print out your final para and pin it to DS's forehead bedroom door

ThinkingItThrough Sun 30-Sep-12 08:04:16

Hi Gnome & Bananas

So glad you have started this discussion and put advice up. Last paragraph will also be waved in front of my son daily!

It is hard to find other parents focused on this where I live - they are all just helping research sixth form colleges and A level options. I have looked at the army colleges link and to be honest they are probably just what my son is looking for too - he is a lot keener on the army than I am. The RAF or Navy would be less scary for me but I can't see that they offer the equivalent sort of training and entry at 16. From the website links I have found anyway. I am going to have to get on the phone!

Could I just ask Banana's husband if the courses they do aged 16+ at an army college have any currency in the outside world and what level the candidates routinely achieve? I am not so keen on NVQ's and BTecs etc but knowing if they were level 2,3,4 etch would give us an idea of how it might compare against a Uniformed Services course or Sixth Form and A levels (admittedly likey to get lowish grades if he tries this route as has ability but no application or self discipline when comes to study).

Thank you so much!

GnomeDePlume Sun 30-Sep-12 10:14:26

Hi Thinking, I agree with you about the lack of interest. It is difficult to get information on non-academic courses. There is plenty of information if taking the academic route - it is pretty easy to get information on what A levels are available. What is harder is to get information on taking the vocational route as you have to know what direction you want to take before you can work out what is available.

I wouldnt necessarily worry about NVQs and BTECS. Because they are vocational if they earned in the work place I think they do carry a lot of weight. IMO the problem occurs when these are earned in a school setting and lack the genuine work element.

Here's another link that might be of interest:

This one is about Army apprenticeships. These cover level 2 and level 3. I have also heard of people taking OU courses as well.

Have you seen this program? It is a 20 minute BBC video following a group doing their 6 weeks basic training at AFC Harrogate:

BananasAndClottedCream Wed 03-Oct-12 11:21:33

Hi there,

Just wanted to say haven't ignored your responses! DH has taken your questions to work today to have a proper look at so should get a reply from him today smile

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