Michelle is Top Student

Adult Sgt Michelle Cheah has just completed her SNCO Course at the Adult Training Facility, HQ Air Cadets, RAF Cranwell. This course, compulsory for all Adult NCOs within a year of their appointment is designed to give the student the basic training needed for their roles on their Squadrons.

Sgt Cheahs report is below:
"During the week of 2-7 Dec 2007 I attended SNCO Staff Initial Course number 34/7 at the Adult Training Facility (ATF) at RAFC Cranwell in Lincolnshire. This is a course for all newly-appointed adult NCOs in the ATC, to equip us with the knowledge and skills to be efficient adult SNCOs. The requirements of the week state that we are each to give a 10-minute lesson at the end of the week, as well as sitting an exam and have passed all aspects of drill.

The 12 course members were greeted by FS Mitchell from the ATF on Sunday night in the Sergeant’s Mess. We dealt with some arrival admin, and each gave short introductory talks about ourselves. Following this initial brief and a tour of the Mess, we all had the opportunity to retire to the bar to get acquainted with each other in a more relaxed environment.

Monday morning started our training for the week. We all repeated our introductory talks to the Training Officer, Flt Lt McGavigan, mostly with improvement from the previous night due to knowing everyone else a little better. After this stage I was appointed as deputy course leader; the course leader being another ex-cadet. Over the course of the day we covered saluting, instructional technique, health & safety, and more drill.

The next morning brought our first inspection with the FS, for which standards had to high. His expert eyes – honed by many years in the RAF Regiment and service in the Queen’s Colour Squadron – could find fault in everybody’s uniform at twenty paces. The rest of the day was spent learning about dress regulations, conduct of personal inspections (as SNCOs it is our job to ensure uniform standards are maintained in all ranks), the organisation of the RAF and the ATC, the Corps Drugs Policy and Supply and inventories. With a bit of drill theory and practical in between to spice things up. We also had a lesson on questioning technique for us to use in our own lessons. We learnt about the three Ps – Pose, Pause, Pounce – and practiced using this technique.

Wednesday started off with another uniform inspection, and we now all focused more on preparation of our own lessons which are to be given on Thursday. We all practiced the questioning technique we learnt the previous day, using specifically worded questions and the PPP technique to illicit a specific word from the other students. We had more sessions on drill, both theory and practical again, and also a lesson on the instructing of drill. We finished off the day with a lesson on discipline and the role of SNCO Staff. The evening saw us back in the ATF after dinner to prepare and practice for our lessons the next day.

Thursday morning was the big one. We were to have an inspection with OC ATF, Sqn Ldr Pelcot. Being an RAF Regt officer himself, he knows all about the importance of good appearance and bearing. Following the inspection we all gave our lessons on a subject of our choice, this being what we had spent all week working towards. We were all videotaped during our lessons, for our private perusal and cringing afterwards. After we had our lessons completed and breathed a huge sigh of relief, the day was not over yet! We had more lessons on welfare matters, as well as more drill and some exam revision for the next day. We also had the honour of a visit by the Commandant of the Air Cadets, Air Commodore Moulds. He spoke to us about his vision for the ACO, such as his aims for the retention and recruitment of adult staff, and the creation of multi-activity centres. It was enlightening to speak to the man in charge himself, dispelling the rumours and misconceptions that have been passed down the line. He invited us all back to his house after dinner for drinks and an informal chat, for which Sqn Ldr Pelcot joined us. We had a more relaxed evening with the AOC, and also had the pleasure of meeting Mrs Moulds and their pet dog Cadet Baxter.

Friday brought the last day of the course, and the exam! After all the exams were completed, and marked by the staff, we each had personal debriefs, where we were told strong points and points to work on, and whether or not we had passed the course. This was when I was informed that I had been offered a place on the Drill Instructor’s course which runs twice annually. Following everyone’s personal debrief, we had a short course appraisal with the staff, then it was straight into the presentation of certificates by the OC. Everybody passed, and I achieved the coveted Top Student award, which means that I am now in the running for the Quinton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the best of all the Top Students on the SSIC course.

Overall it was a very good and informative course with excellent staff instruction. I certainly enjoyed myself, and look forward to returning for my DI course next year."

The photo shows the course with Michelle in the middle of second rank!