Welfare and duty of care in Armed Forces initial training 2021 to 2022 - GOV.UK

2022-10-09 02:26:42 By : Mr. Chris Liu

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Defence exists to protect the people of the United Kingdom, to prevent conflict and to be ready to fight when required to do so. Its success depends on its people; they are a critical component of Defence capability. In order to maintain this capability, Defence must continue to get the right number of people with the right skills to the right place at the right time in an economically sustainable manner. Delivering this requirement begins with providing the military, technical and professional knowledge and skills delivered during initial training.

I therefore welcome the support of Ofsted for its independent oversight of our training provision. It is only right that it highlights our progress and focuses attention where action is most needed.

I am pleased to see the continued improvement of our initial training, with 10 of the 12 graded inspections being assessed as good. However, as highlighted, we still have more to do. The quality of some of the accommodation and infrastructure described in the report remains unsatisfactory. While improvements have been made, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will continue to rationalise and invest in the training estate to drive further positive change. Across Defence, we continue work to widen the food choices available and improve the standard of food for our people, especially our recruits and trainees, to ensure that their nutritional needs are met. I’m also pleased to read Ofsted’s positive review of how the ‘Prevent’ message is being inculcated among recruits and trainees. Defence will continue to develop training in this area so that learning is better reinforced.

During this inspection cycle, Defence commissioned Ofsted to carry out an additional, unassessed, review of Army Reserve training. This review highlighted some challenges in delivering training to the Reserves, in particular in terms of collaborating across multiple units, passing of information and sharing of best practice. Many of the findings are common to tri-Service Reserve training and will be used as a baseline for improvement.

Defence continues to value and appreciate the work of Ofsted. The annual report recommendations sit alongside those of wider MoD assurance teams and form the basis of improvement action plans that exist to ensure that we deliver the best possible training experience to our people. We remain committed to ensuring that our recruits and trainees receive the best start as they embark on their military careers.

This is Ofsted’s 14th annual report on the effectiveness of care and welfare arrangements for recruits, trainees and officer cadets in Armed Forces initial training. It is the sixth report that I have presented as His Majesty’s Chief Inspector. All training establishments have returned to full-time, face-to-face initial training of recruits and trainees following the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Our programme of inspections was unaffected by COVID-19 over this year, and I would like to thank all involved for their cooperation in making this happen.

This was the second year that we have used the revised inspection handbook to inspect care and welfare in Armed Forces settings. Inspectors graded the key judgement areas of training and support; personal and professional development; quality of facilities, infrastructure and resources; and effectiveness of leadership and management. They also provided an overall effectiveness grade for each establishment.

Inspectors used a new model of inspection for University Service Units (USUs) this year. They visited several University Royal Naval Units (URNUs) and their headquarters to carry out a single, ungraded inspection. This model has been a success, and we now intend to carry out graded inspections of other USUs using the same model.

At the request of the MoD, inspectors also carried out an ungraded review of Army Reserve initial training. Inspectors visited 2 Army headquarters and 6 Reservist units. They made several recommendations for improvement in the areas of oversight and assurance of training, care and welfare. We have summarised these in this report.

Six of the Regular and all 4 of the Reserve establishments were graded good for overall effectiveness and most key judgements. The Infantry Training Centre (ITC) at Catterick was judged outstanding in 2 of the key judgement areas: quality of training and support, and leadership and management. This was a great achievement for the staff at this large phase 1 and 2 Army training establishment.

In all 10 good establishments, Regular and Reserve recruits and trainees benefited from high-quality training and extensive, highly effective care and welfare arrangements. Because of this, recruits and trainees at these establishments became confident, skilled and knowledgeable. These young soldiers, sailors and aviators were ready to move on to the next stage of their training or into their first role in the Army, Royal Air Force or Royal Navy.

Two establishments were judged to require improvement: the RAF Officer Training Academy (RAFOTA) at RAF Cranwell, and the Defence Medical Academy (DMA). In both, the infrastructure and accommodation were major weaknesses, and at RAF Cranwell, they were inadequate. Classrooms had leaking roofs, and accommodation blocks frequently lacked hot water and heating. Repairs were not carried out quickly. The morale of young officers at the start of their careers in the Royal Air Force was lowered by the poor conditions they endured. At the DMA, senior staff failed to concentrate sufficiently on the quality of training for trainee medics based at the DMA and trainee undergraduate nurses at Birmingham City University (BCU). Consequently, inspectors judged the quality of training and support and the effectiveness of leadership and management to require improvement.

As we have found in previous years, even where the quality of facilities, infrastructure and resources was judged as good, there were disappointing weaknesses. Too often, senior officers and their staff are spending time dealing with the legacy of a lack of investment in infrastructure, or dealing with poor maintenance contracts. At several establishments, including large establishments like HMS Sultan and ITC Catterick, infrastructure, including accommodation and classrooms, needs to be improved. Too often, the needs of female recruits or trainees are not considered fully, especially when there are few of them in one place. Females are often accommodated separately from their male peers to provide privacy, and this can make them feel isolated.

While self-assessment reporting continues to be a weakness in many training establishments, as it has over several years, inspectors report that commanding officers are providing the MoD with a new and useful analysis of their establishment’s strengths and weaknesses. This has the potential to be a useful starting point for better analysis and evaluation of the effectiveness of care and welfare arrangements.

Congratulations to the commanding officers, and their teams, at the good establishments this year. Their success is indicative of the very good work that so many military and civilian staff do to train and care for recruits and trainees. However, more remains to be done. I have reported persistent and serious weaknesses in resources, infrastructure and accommodation for the past 6 years. As this report demonstrates, such weaknesses affect the quality of training and recruits’ and trainees’ experiences. I strongly urge colleagues in the MoD to deal with the recommendations from this report swiftly and with resolve, so that they provide future generations of Armed Forces personnel with the high-quality training, care and welfare they deserve.

Ofsted inspects the training, care and welfare arrangements for recruits, trainees and officer cadets at phase 1 and phase 2 training establishments for Regular and Reserve personnel. This includes officer cadets training at USUs.

Phase 1 training provides a general introduction to military life, while phase 2 covers the technical and professional skills required of members of the Armed Forces for their first professional roles. This report reflects the general trend of improvements in care and welfare in many Armed Forces establishments.

Ofsted’s terms of reference are set out in a memorandum of understanding between the Secretary of State for Defence and His Majesty’s Chief Inspector. This includes a requirement for Ofsted to:

This report draws on evidence from 8 inspections of Regular training establishments, 4 inspections of Reserve units, and one combined inspection of 5 URNUs and their headquarters.

Of the 8 Regular training establishments inspected during 2021/22:

Inspectors completed graded inspections of 4 Reserve training establishments. Of these:

In addition, this year we carried out an ungraded combined inspection of the following 5 URNUs and their headquarters:

At the MoD’s request, we also carried out a review of Army Reserve initial training, care and welfare. Inspectors visited several Army Reserve units, the Army Recruitment and Initial Training Command (ARITC) headquarters and the Initial Training Group (ITG). They also interviewed staff from the Land Warfare Centre and Field Army Headquarters.

Inspectors reviewed training, care and welfare arrangements of the Army Reserve at:

A summary of the results of this review is included within this report.

This was the second year that we have used the revised MoD inspection handbook. This handbook aligns closely with Ofsted’s education inspection framework, but has been adapted for inspections of Armed Forces initial training.

Each Regular training establishment received no more than 48 hours’ notice of inspection. Reserve training units and USUs received 2 weeks’ notice, because they provide training on a part-time basis.

Inspections lasted between 1 and 3 days, depending on the size and complexity of the establishment and the numbers of recruits, trainees or officer cadets on site or attending courses.

At all establishments, inspectors gathered evidence to identify strengths and weaknesses, and inform key judgements on the:

Inspectors used these to determine a graded summary judgement for the overall effectiveness of care and welfare for each Regular and Reserve establishment.

Inspectors used Ofsted’s 4-point judgement scale of outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate. They considered any impact of COVID-19 on the establishment when making judgements and arriving at recommendations.

Review and improve policies that have an impact on the training, care and welfare of recruits and trainees, specifically, but not limited to:

the Army policy on trainees who require driving licences before leaving phase 2

Inspections before September 2020 were carried out under a different handbook. These tables, therefore, are given as guidance only and does not provide a direct comparison of grades across years.

Note: 1 = Outstanding, 2 = Good, 3 = Requires improvement, 4 = Inadequate

Note: 1 = Outstanding, 2 = Good, 3 = Requires improvement, 4 = Inadequate

Of the 12 establishments inspected and graded, one was graded outstanding for the quality of training and support. This was the ITC at Catterick, where staff provided exceptional support for recruits and trainees.

Ten establishments were graded good for the quality of training and support: Royal Engineer training at Minley Station, ATU(N), HMS Sultan, HMS Sherwood, RMR Merseyside, RMSM, RMSoM, RAFOTA, ATC Pirbright and 3TPS at RAF Honington. One establishment, the DMA, was graded as requires improvement.

At the DMA, the quality of training is not good enough. Commanders have not ensured that courses are high quality or that trainees are learning what they should. Not all trainers are effective at teaching or assessing trainees. Many trainees find the pace of teaching and assessment too fast, and cannot consolidate their learning. Trainee military nurses studying degrees at BCU do not always master the knowledge and skills they need before their placements, and do not feel they have been taught topics in a logical order or thoroughly enough.

In the other establishments inspected this year, there was a strong emphasis on the training, care and welfare of recruits and trainees. Senior commanders and their staff work diligently to train and support recruits and trainees to move successfully on to the next stage in their careers. Most staff are highly motivated to help recruits and trainees do well, and many are exceptional role models who recruits and trainees aspire to emulate.

In these good establishments, training and welfare staff work closely together to provide well-coordinated welfare arrangements that benefit recruits and trainees who need support. Many staff work long hours to provide the level of support that their recruits and trainees need. This has especially been the case during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recruits and trainees have swift access to support from their chain of command, and also from a range of other personnel, such as the padres, chaplains and medical staff. They have the confidence to approach staff for help and support.

At ITC Catterick, staff provide recruits with highly individualised care and welfare support. Well-trained and compassionate specialist staff closely monitor individual recruits’ needs, and ensure that they get the help and support they require. Trainees at RMSM highly value the support and respect they get from the training staff. At Minley Station, staff communicate well with each other about trainees who need additional support, and keep detailed records of any action they need to take or have taken. They are diligent in monitoring trainees who may be more vulnerable, including those under the age of 18.

At most establishments, the management of recruits or trainees who are deemed at risk, either of not completing training or because of welfare concerns, is good. At HMS Sultan, ATC Pirbright, HMS Sherwood and Minley Station, staff monitor this particularly closely. At HMS Sultan, the Royal Navy divisional officer system provides good support for trainees, including those who receive additional support from chaplains and medical teams. At RMSM and RMSoM, staff at every level get to know their trainees quickly as individuals and as musicians. This enables staff to provide relevant care and support, or signpost trainees to specialist support available in the naval base. At the DMA, staff are often too busy to provide the full support that their trainees need. However, trainee medics under the age of 18 receive good mentoring and support. A few of the training and support staff at RAFOTA lack the skills to support officer cadets (OCdts) with more complicated personal needs, such as those with young families at home.

The training teams in most establishments have designed courses well. Most trainers teach these courses effectively. As a result, recruits and trainees gain new knowledge, learn new skills effectively and practise them frequently. At Minley Station, engineering trainees construct and dismantle bridges competently. At RMSM and RMSoM, trainees play various styles of music to a high standard as members of marching bands, big bands and orchestras. At 3TPS, trainees learn how to deter and secure assailants swiftly and safely. In most URNUs, OCdts learn useful skills, such as maritime navigation and radio communications. However, not all URNUs teach the syllabus they should, so some OCdts do not learn the knowledge and skills they need.

At HMS Sultan, air engineer trainees benefit from learning the practical and theory elements of their courses in a logical sequence. However, this is not the case for marine engineers, because their course is not organised in a way that helps them to consolidate what they have learned in theory sessions. At HMS Sherwood, experienced recruits must repeat some of the training that they have already done when new recruits start, because staff have not sequenced the training well enough. Recruits at ATC Pirbright sometimes struggle to remember what they have learned because their course is so intense and they find it overwhelming, especially in the early stages.

Training facilities and specialist resources in most establishments are very good. At RMSM and RMSoM, trainee musicians have excellent spaces in which to learn and practise their music skills, either individually or as part of a large orchestra. HMS Sherwood recruits and OCdts benefit from sharing facilities with an Army Reserve unit. Here, they have access to good drill facilities, as well as to assault courses and rifle ranges. Many OCdts at URNUs use good sporting and fitness facilities at their units. Training staff at RAFOTA have developed very good training materials, including online resources, to help OCdts develop leadership skills. However, recruits at ATU(N) find the distance learning that they complete dull and uninspiring. At 3TPS, while the practical training facilities are high quality, much of the training material is outdated. Trainers adapt materials to make them more relevant, but are waiting for better training technology and resources from the Defence School of Policing and Guarding to secure longer-term solutions.

Training staff in some establishments are still failing to provide purposeful activities for recruits and trainees who are on holdover, despite Ofsted reporting on this for several years. Recruits and trainees can be on holdover because they are ill or injured, and so are temporarily not in training, or because they are waiting to start their phase 2 training. Where staff do not provide recruits and trainees with enough to do, or give them dull and often pointless activities, recruits and trainees become bored and demotivated. At HMS Sultan, trainees who have previously achieved GSCE qualifications in English or mathematics do not have structured, interesting activities to do while they wait for their peers to complete functional skills courses. Staff at RAFOTA, ITC Catterick and ATC Pirbright work hard to reduce the time that recruits spend waiting for medical procedures, but always give these recruits enough to do. At Minley Station, too many trainees are prevented from moving to the next phase of their careers because they are waiting to learn to drive.

Most recruits and trainees who need rehabilitation following injury are supported well by specialist medical staff who help them to rejoin training swiftly. At ITC Catterick, recruits who need physiotherapy treatment receive it quickly. At ATC Pirbright, staff help recruits with rehabilitation, while providing them with helpful information about nutrition, physiology and how bodies heal. At HMS Sultan, injured engineering trainees recover in a separate division, where staff help them to catch up with training that they have missed. At the DMA, injured trainees have clear target dates for when they can rejoin training. Specialist staff give each of these trainees exercises designed to help them recover rapidly. At ATU(N), medically trained staff attend training activities where injuries may occur, in order to minimise these.

Staff in most establishments effectively support recruits and trainees with learning difficulties or additional needs to help them succeed in training. RMSM and RMSoM staff do this especially well for trainees who may need extra support to overcome anxiety or take examinations. At ATC Pirbright, staff give recruits effective guidance on how to improve their memory. At the DMA, specialist staff are effective in helping trainees with learning difficulties, but trainers do not always take trainees’ learning needs into account when teaching. Consequently, some trainees struggle to keep up with the fast pace of training.

Physical training instructors (PTIs) provide recruits and trainees at most establishments with structured and appropriate training. This helps recruits and trainees to develop their fitness in a safe and managed way to meet the high standards they need to achieve. The PTIs help OCdts at RAFOTA to take responsibility for their own fitness levels and well-being, and to think about the fitness needs of those they will lead in the future, and their oversight of them. Engineering trainees at Minley Station improve their fitness well because the PTIs structure their training effectively. PTIs at ITC Catterick support recruits who may struggle with fitness, providing them with bespoke training packages. Recruits at RMR Merseyside develop their fitness effectively in preparation for their 2-week commando course at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone. Staff at RMSoM prepare trainees well for combat fitness tests and long periods of time playing in marching bands. RMSM was without a PTI for a short time, so trainees could not undertake physical training. This has now been rectified and trainees are again benefiting from a managed programme of activities, including swimming circuits at nearby HMS Temeraire.

Training staff in most establishments are highly motivated and experienced. Many military trainers are excellent role models for recruits and trainees, who look up to their staff as being the soldiers, sailors and aviators they aspire to be. Recruits and trainees also highly value the input of the many civilian trainers who teach and support them. Military trainers are often selected for the role based on their attributes and experience. Most military and civilian trainers at Regular establishments complete the mandated Defence Trainer course (DTc), either before or shortly after joining the establishment. Not enough Reservist trainers have completed the DTc, because there are not enough places allocated for them on courses, or because they are not able to commit the time to complete the course in its current format.

At ATU(N), permanent staff and visiting instructors are carefully chosen by senior commanders. RMSM commanders carefully select and train expert Army musicians so that they can teach and support trainees well, in collaboration with civilian music specialist teachers. At ITC Catterick, highly skilled military trainers use their knowledge and expertise well to turn recruits and trainees into infantry soldiers. In URNUs, many staff are experienced trainers and have relevant military or maritime knowledge. URNU commanders have recently developed a training syllabus that provides new trainers with the relevant skills and knowledge that they need to train OCdts.

At the DMA, RAF personnel must prove their ability to train in order to be accepted for trainer roles. However, DMA trainers from the Royal Navy and Army are often non-volunteers who are sometimes uninterested in training others. Trainers at the DMA are often required to teach topics outside of their specialist medical knowledge, so trainees do not benefit from being taught by experts. DMA trainee nurses who are on undergraduate courses taught by BCU tutors are negative about the training they receive. However, many undergraduate nurses gain a first-class degree.

The number of recruits and trainees who succeed in training continues to be high in most establishments, and is now mostly at pre COVID-19 levels. At Minley Station, HMS Sultan, RAFOTA, ATU(N) and 3TPS, almost all recruits and trainees pass training because of the good teaching and high levels of support that staff provide for them. At RMSM and RMSoM, trainees progress through training at their own pace and almost all are successful because of the very good coaching and support they receive. While a very high proportion of foundation medics at the DMA ultimately complete their course, many take several attempts to do so.

A high proportion of Army recruits leave ITC Catterick or ATC Pirbright in the first few weeks of training. Many potential recruits simply do not receive the guidance they need at the recruitment stage to understand the rigours of Army life and initial training, so are ill-prepared. Commanders are reviewing the information provided for potential recruits and their parents to help them know what to expect, but more needs to be done at the recruitment stage and by Armed Forces careers information offices. The pass rates at ATC Pirbright have fallen during the COVID-19 pandemic to the lowest in 3 years. At RMR Merseyside, the overall pass rates are low. Many recruits leave the RMR before they complete training, because of the physical demands of the course. Senior commanders have recognised this and recently introduced an orientation phase so that recruits can better prepare for their courses.

All establishments were graded good for personal and professional development.

Most recruits and trainees who remain in training beyond their first weeks enjoy it and feel they have made the right decision to join the military. They have a positive attitude to training, to each other and to staff, and quickly develop the qualities they need to do well in their Service careers. Recruits learn about the standards they need to achieve very early in their training, and most overcome the challenges that arise in changing from a civilian to a Service person. Trainees in phase 2 training build on what they learned in phase 1, to display high levels of military values and standards. Recruits and trainees are rightly proud of their achievements, and proud of being members of the Armed Forces.

Because of the good support they receive from staff, recruits and trainees learn to live and work with each other very well. They quickly value the support and camaraderie that working as part of a team brings. Most staff demonstrate excellent military skills and behaviours, and recruits and trainees hold them in high esteem. Staff at ATC Pirbright teach recruits to work as a team through a range of training activities, so that recruits quickly understand the importance of teamwork in the Army. At RMSM and RMSoM, expert musician trainers teach trainees what standards are required to be part of a military band. At RMR Merseyside, staff introduce recruits to Royal Marines values right at the start of their training. DMA staff ensure that trainee nurses at BCU are regularly included in military routines such as physical training and accommodation checks. As a result, these trainees still feel part of the military, despite living in university student accommodation.

Senior officers and staff in all establishments work hard to develop an inclusive and welcoming culture. Most recruits and trainees have great respect for one another. Almost all feel that their unit is a safe place in which to live and train. Staff in all establishments swiftly investigate any allegations of bullying or discrimination. Recruits and trainees know that if they raise concerns these will be dealt with appropriately. Female officer cadets at RAFOTA say that staff and their male peers treat them fairly and respectfully. The very few female engineering trainees at Minley Station feel as valued as their male peers. Female musicians at both RMSoM and RMSM are exceptionally positive about the attitudes of male trainees and staff. At HMS Sultan, a few female trainees have been subjected to inappropriate language from a small number of male trainees, despite the best efforts of the staff to stem this.

Commanders and staff in most establishments focus on developing the health and well-being of recruits and trainees. This includes improving their mental resilience and confidence, as well as improving and sustaining their physical health. Recruits at ATC Pirbright learn to present topics to others to build their confidence in public speaking. Combat engineering trainees who were previously non-swimmers quickly learn to swim. This an essential skill for these trainees, who frequently carry out activities near water, and it builds their confidence and resilience. RAFOTA OCdts are taught how to stay physically and mentally healthy, as staff understand that this makes them better at leading other people. OCdts develop new knowledge, such as understanding how emotional intelligence and communication help them to lead others.

At the DMA, trainees are often anxious about the quantity of information they need to learn, about their lack of practice in skills and techniques, and about the number of assessments they have. Many lack confidence in themselves as a result. Staff have not responded to trainees’ concerns well enough. Nor have they provided trainees with enough information on important aspects of their course, such as the nature of their medical placements or the structure of training.

Staff at most training establishments provide some information about healthy eating, but the response to this is variable. Too often, catering facilities do not display the information that recruits or trainees need in order to make knowledgeable decisions about what to eat. At ITC Catterick, staff teach recruits about healthy lifestyle choices soon after arrival. Staff at RMR Merseyside give advice on healthy living and eating to recruits who are struggling with their fitness. However, recruits do not learn about the importance of good nutrition, and the part it plays in supporting good physical and mental well-being, early enough in their training.

Recruits and trainees benefit from a range of sports and activities outside the training day. This has continued to improve in all training establishments since the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. URNU staff work hard to provide OCdts with activities that they really value alongside the structured syllabus. These include adventurous training, sport and military events such as Remembrance Day parades. At Minley Station, trainees can participate in a wide range of activities, sports clubs and elite sports competitions.

Most recruits and trainees know what progress they are making and what skills and knowledge they still need to master. The large majority understand the military career path available to them and know what their next steps are. Musicians at RMSM and RMSoM are very well prepared to join their first military bands, as staff frequently inform them of what to expect. OCdts at RAFOTA know what their later career training will be, right from their arrival. Recruits from Pirbright visit their phase 2 establishments before they leave phase 1. As a result, they are well prepared and look forward to the next stages of their military careers. URNU staff support OCdts who wish to pursue a Royal Navy career very well through the application process. Combat engineering trainees in 3 RSME Regiment (Regt) are not informed well enough about how they are selected for a specific trade, or what happens once they complete training at Minley Station, because staff at careers information offices and at Minley do not provide them with sufficient information.

Most recruits and trainees only have a basic awareness of how to protect themselves from radicalisation and extremism. Staff do not reinforce knowledge or check understanding frequently enough. Too often these topics are only covered briefly during induction or in an annual lecture. Staff rarely discuss them with recruits or trainees and often only have the same basic information as the recruits or trainees. In most establishments, the vast majority of recruits and trainees do not have a good understanding of national and local threats. Recruits at HMS Sherwood do not complete their online learning about this subject early enough in their training. RMR Merseyside staff do not teach recruits how to avoid risks. At the DMA, however, trainees are well informed by staff about possible risks in their locality, and staff keep trainees’ knowledge up to date effectively during their courses. At HMS Sultan, trainees know how to work online safely, and how to recognise signs of radicalisation and extremism. At ITC Catterick, recruits and trainees have a good awareness of the risks posed by extremist groups to military personnel.

Nine establishments were graded good for the quality of their facilities, infrastructure and resources: Minley Station, ICT Catterick, ATC Pirbright, HMS Sultan, HMS Sherwood, RMSM, RMSoM, RMR Merseyside and 3TPS. Two establishments were graded as requires improvement: DMA and ATU(N). One establishment, RAFOTA, was graded inadequate.

Although inspectors found good facilities and resources in most establishments, they continued to find failing infrastructure, including poor accommodation for recruits and trainees. This requires urgent rectification. Far too often there are problems with heating and plumbing. Too many establishments have poorly maintained infrastructure and are in need of refurbishment. This causes much inconvenience and discomfort to staff, recruits and trainees, whose morale is frequently affected negatively by the deteriorating conditions in which they live and work. Command teams often lack the authority or sufficient funds to improve things for recruits and trainees quickly. Because of poor contracting arrangements, it frequently takes too long for even minor faults to be fixed.

For the first time since the current inspection handbook was introduced, living and teaching accommodation at one location, RAFOTA, was found to be so poor that inspectors judged it inadequate. Classrooms were not used because of leaking roofs. Heating, electrical and drainage systems were not functioning properly, so OCdts were unable to stay warm or have hot showers. There were insufficient washing facilities for the number of OCdts in training.

Buildings and infrastructure at the DMA, ATU(N), HMS Sultan, 3TPS and ITC Catterick all need significant improvements. DMA senior commanders do not have effective oversight of the maintenance contractor’s work, and repairs take far too long to be done. The contractor’s response to requests for repairs is poor, even for minor works. Trainees are literally left in the dark because lighting does not work. The roof of the welfare centre leaks and the contractor’s unsatisfactory repairs have failed to rectify this, so trainees cannot use the full facility. At ATU(N), old and run-down infrastructure at the Altcar and Strensall sites needs continuous attention just to keep it functioning. Ageing Nissen huts are due for demolition because of the presence of asbestos, and staff have no alternative classrooms to use for training. The team at Altcar carry out urgent repairs quickly, but at Strensall, which is due to close, repairs take too long.

Much of the training estate at HMS Sultan needs refurbishment or replacement, including the medical and dental centres. Some accommodation blocks need attention. At RAF Honington, staff at 3TPS carry out some training in an old aircraft shelter that lacks natural light and has loud heating fans, which makes it difficult for trainees to hear properly. The toilet facilities that they use during training are in poor condition. At ITC Catterick, many classrooms are run down and require refurbishment. Although senior staff have secured funds, work on improving recruits’ accommodation and classrooms has not yet started. The laundry facilities for the DMA trainee nurses at BCU are inefficient.

In contrast, senior staff at ATC Pirbright ensured that problems with hot water and infrastructure identified at a previous inspection were rectified. Trainees at Minley Station have good accommodation. Senior staff work closely with contractors to prioritise trainees’ accommodation and facilities over other areas that need maintenance, so that faults are fixed quickly. At RMSM and RMSoM, trainees’ accommodation is comfortable, with adequate space to relax, sleep and store clothing and equipment, although minor faults are not always fixed promptly. Recruits at HMS Sherwood use good-quality and well-maintained accommodation during weekend training. Staff at RMR Merseyside manage infrastructure and facilities well, so that they are clean and functional.

Most recruits and trainees have somewhere comfortable where they can relax with their peers after the training day. RAFOTA OCdts have access to a social bar, games rooms and areas where they can make hot drinks. RMSM and RMSoM trainees have well-equipped recreation areas in their accommodation blocks, and are close to amenities in central Portsmouth. Trainees at Minley Station have access to nearby civilian retail and food outlets. At ITC Catterick, recruits use their very well-equipped recreation areas frequently. They watch sports events on large TV screens and play games on consoles provided by staff.

Not all establishments consider the needs of female recruits and/or trainees. Women are often accommodated away from their male peers. While this ensures privacy and security, it has led to some being isolated, especially in establishments where there are very few female recruits, such as at ITC Catterick. Staff at 3TPS do not always ensure that female trainees have sufficient privacy in their accommodation. At ATC Pirbright, staff do not ensure that all female recruits are issued with uniforms or equipment, such as rucksacks, that fit them properly. Not only does this prevent them from looking as presentable as their male peers, but poorly fitting equipment can also increase the risk of injury.

Many recruits and trainees benefit from good training facilities. Trainers use technology well to help recruits and trainees to learn new knowledge. For example, at ATU(N), trainers use smartboards effectively, to enhance teaching and learning. Minley Station staff use online resources well to help trainee engineers understand important concepts. Most classrooms and training spaces are fit for purpose, and those at RMR Merseyside and Minley Station, particularly, are well resourced and well maintained. Trainees at RMSM and RMSoM use individual music practice rooms that they value highly. However, these are limited in number and now reaching capacity. The practice block is not heated properly, and this can be detrimental to trainees’ musical instruments, as well as their ability to practise.

Physical training facilities in all establishments are at least good and sometimes better, including facilities to rehabilitate injured recruits or trainees. PT staff at all establishments make very good use of their facilities to improve recruits’ and trainees’ fitness. Facilities at ATC Pirbright are of very high quality. Trainees at Minley Station benefit from very good sports and fitness facilities, including an excellent swimming pool. The equipment at ITC Catterick was recently refurbished and recruits now have access to state-of-the-art facilities. Trainee medics at the DMA and DMA undergraduates based at BCU have good access to well-equipped gym facilities. Recruits at RMR Merseyside, and at the detachments, benefit from good-quality gym and sports facilities, and assault courses, that help them prepare well for their assessments at Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM). The gym facilities that ATU(N) shares with other units are maintained well and have a suitable range of equipment.

In most training establishments, recruits and trainees have very good access to on-site medical and dental care. In these establishments, recruits and trainees have priority access, and usually obtain a rapid appointment on the day they request one. This includes specialist treatment, such as physiotherapy following injury. Medical staff in most establishments work closely with training and welfare staff to monitor the effectiveness of treatment on recruits and trainees, and try to return those injured to training as soon as it is safe to do so.

Trainees at RMSM and RMSoM, who use the medical facilities at HMS Nelson, do not have the same good access to medical support as their peers elsewhere. Too often, trainees wait too long for an appointment to be signed off as medically fit and cannot return swiftly enough to training. This delays their progress and undermines morale. At Minley Station, the increasing number of trainees on holdover is putting pressure on the limited medical facilities there. In URNUs, medical assessments that are part of the recruitment process for OCdts and training officers (TOs) take too long. This has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. OCdts and TOs who are waiting for medicals cannot participate fully in training.

Most recruits and trainees are provided with plenty of food, and usually have a range of menu options available to them. At ITC Catterick, recruits can ask for additional portions if they are hungry. Gurkha recruits are given a choice of food that they are familiar with. At RAFOTA, menu choices are limited for vegetarians and vegans and there is not enough fruit or salad. At Minley Station, the choice of food is good during the week, but less good at weekends.

In too many establishments, catering staff do not provide enough dietary information to enable recruits and trainees to choose suitable, nutritious food. Too often, catering staff do not provide appropriate menu options for recruits or trainees who are undertaking large amounts of physical training. At HMS Nelson, RMSM and RMSoM, the food is of a reasonable quality and there are plenty of menu choices, but often there is no information about the food at all, including what the dishes are. Many RMSM and RMSoM trainees prefer to prepare their own food in the accommodation block kitchens. At HMS Sultan, trainees have limited facilities to prepare their own food if they choose to do so. Trainees at the DMA do not usually eat in the mess because they do not enjoy the food served there. Many live on microwaved ready meals because they do not have other kitchen facilities to prepare fresh food.

One establishment was graded outstanding for the effectiveness of leadership and management: ITC Catterick. Ten were graded good: Minley Station, ATC Pirbright, HMS Sultan, HMS Sherwood, RMSM, RMSoM, RAFOTA, RMR Merseyside, ATU(N) and 3TPS. The effectiveness of leadership and management at the DMA requires improvement.

Commanding officers are good at informing staff of their high expectations and aspirations for recruits and trainees. At RMR Merseyside, for example, the command team makes sure that the ethos and culture it promotes for and to recruits are what the Royal Marines Corps expects. At HMS Sultan, ITC Catterick, ATU(N) and RMSoM, senior commanders set out their clear purpose and vision to their teams particularly effectively. Senior commanders at these establishments give staff clear direction on the standards they expect, through detailed supervisory care directives. They review potential risks to recruits and trainees carefully, and provide clear strategies for mitigating these in their commanders’ risk assessment documents.

Most senior teams implement effective processes to manage and monitor the training, care and welfare of recruits and trainees. These are especially effective in monitoring individual recruits and trainees where some form of intervention is required. At HMS Sherwood, staff go above and beyond to support trainees and OCdts so that they do well. At HMS Sultan, there is comprehensive oversight of the welfare and care of trainees, and staff intervene quickly to provide relevant support. However, senior staff at RMSM lack sufficient capacity to implement thorough systems to sustain good care and welfare of their trainees. Similarly, the URNUs and their headquarters do not have enough staff to manage the quality of training, and care and welfare, well enough. At the DMA, while staff manage the care and welfare of the trainees effectively, senior commanders do not monitor the quality of training well.

As we have highlighted in previous reports, in too many establishments senior staff spend too much time and energy dealing with failing infrastructure. This diverts them from their core role of providing high-quality training, care and welfare. Too much effort is spent on trying to secure funding to maintain deteriorating estates, or managing contractors who do not do the work required. Consequently, recruits and trainees often live or train in poor conditions, or do not always have access to the high-quality facilities they should expect as members of the Armed Forces.

Staff in most establishments continue to consider carefully what recruits and trainees say about their experiences. Senior staff in most establishments use a range of sources to provide them with information about what works well, and what they could improve. However, at HMS Sherwood, staff use a limited range of ways to gather feedback from recruits and trainees. At the DMA, staff do not take swift or effective action to improve trainees’ learning or living conditions following adverse feedback in recruit training surveys (RTS) and other surveys.

Most senior staff are aware of the strengths and weaknesses in the quality of their training, care and welfare. But, too often, they do not evaluate these well enough in their self-assessment reports or identify the root causes of weaknesses. Often, important factors that have an impact on the experiences of recruits and trainees, such as poor accommodation, are excluded altogether. RMSM staff have not yet developed a useful self-assessment process. As reported in previous years, the actions captured in quality improvement plans do not always correspond to weaknesses in self-assessment reports. Commanders are now expected to give an analysis of a range of factors to the MoD. These form a useful initial evaluation for self-assessment reports, but command teams have yet to capitalise on this. In many establishments, commanders struggle to use the information they have to analyse what works well and what they should focus on improving. In URNU headquarters, senior staff do not routinely use available information to identify trends and inconsistencies across the units they are responsible for.

Senior commanders still do not provide staff, recruits and trainees with enough information about the risks of extremism and radicalisation. They follow the MoD policy guidance to provide information at induction and annually, but rarely more frequently. Without any further training or reinforcement of knowledge, recruits and trainees forget what they have learned.

The focus of this review was the leadership, management and governance of Reserves initial training, care and welfare, based on the 4 key judgement areas of the current Ofsted MoD inspection handbook.

The review covered the following areas:

There were 3 stages to the review: an initial visit to the ARITC training headquarters in Upavon and ITG headquarters in Pirbright; visits to a selection of Field Army Reserve parent units; and a follow-up visit to the ARITC training headquarters in Upavon. These visits took place between 26 April and 12 May 2022. Inspectors spoke to senior commanders, quality assurance teams, parent unit commanding officers and their teams, and a range of specialists. Inspectors also met with Army personnel from the Land Warfare Centre based in Warminster and the Field Army headquarters in Andover.

Inspectors made recommendations to the MoD based on the following summary of findings:

The DMA was established to unify military medical training. It operates across 3 sites: DMA, Whittington Barracks; BCU, City South Campus; and Joint Service School of Exercise Rehabilitation Instructors at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Stanford Hall.

The medical training provided by the DMA extends across a wide range of disciplines, from level 3 non-vocational healthcare support workers (for example, Military Medics) to consultant doctors, dentists and other health professionals taking level 8 (doctoral) qualifications. The DMA delivers most of the academic training that is below undergraduate level, as well as any training with a military focus, at the Whittington Barracks site. It delivers higher academic training in partnership with BCU and Leeds Beckett University. DMA staff manage and provide academic and personal support to trainees.

This inspection was carried out over 2 visits to the DMA. The visits included inspecting courses for phase 2 undergraduate trainees following 3- or 4-year degree courses in nursing, radiography, biomedical science, operating department practice or environmental health. When visit one was carried out, there were around 385 trainees on these courses, and around 300 when visit 2 was carried out. The inspection also included phase 2 junior ranks’ training on 26-week non-higher education courses at the DMA for foundation medics, healthcare assistants or dental nurses (104 at the time of the first visit and 240 at the time of the second visit). During the second visit to the DMA, inspectors also considered the RAF young officers’ course, which had 69 trainees enrolled at the time. At the time of the first visit, the DMA had around 120 trainees in holdover, in the Trainee Management Division (TMD). Holdover numbers had reduced significantly to 26 by the time of the second visit.

The inspected provision represents a small part of the total training throughput at the DMA, with the vast majority of training being at phase 3.

RAFOTA is part of the RAF College, Cranwell. The officer commanding RAFOTA is responsible for the day-to-day management of the phase 1 recruits.

At the time of this inspection, the academy had 274 officer cadets in training. The majority (186) were on the modular initial officer training course (MIOTC). Fifty officer cadets were repeating elements of training that they failed or were unable to complete because of illness or injury. Thirteen were on the specialist officer initial training (SOIT) course. This course is for those who will specialise in professions such as legal, medical, dental or clergy. Ten are on the Reserves officer initial training course. Fifteen officer cadets were on the cadet support flight (CSF) recovering from illness or injury.

RMR Merseyside is under the command of the Maritime Reserve staff at Royal Navy headquarters. They work closely with staff at CTCRM at Lympstone. RMR Merseyside is based in Liverpool and there are 5 detachments based in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham and Birmingham. The unit provides phase 1 and 2 training for Reserve recruits over a 14-month period, with each phase of training culminating in 2 weeks of confirmatory training and assessment at CTCRM.

RMR Merseyside has a trained strength of 150 personnel. A small number of these are Royal Marine Regulars or permanent staff based at the Liverpool headquarters. At the time of inspection, there were 29 phase 2 recruits in training.

ATU(N) is one of 4 Army Reserve training units and part of Initial Training Group. ATU(N) trains recruits at 2 sites: Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Strensall, near York, and Altcar Training Camp in Merseyside. The headquarters is at Strensall but the command team is equally focused on both sites and spends a significant amount of time at Altcar during training courses.

Recruit training follows the recently introduced Common Military Syllabus Reserves (CMSR21). This training has been restructured into 3 modules and includes several distance learning packages. Weekend training and distance learning prepare recruits for the 2-week ‘battlecamp’ in module 3, where they consolidate and are tested on their skills and knowledge, before a phase 1 passing-out parade.

At the time of inspection, there were 42 recruits in training at ATU(N).

Initial trade training of Royal Engineers takes place at 3 RSME Regt and Royal Engineer Warfare Wing (REWW), based at Gibraltar Barracks at Minley Station, Surrey. They are part of the RSME Group, which has headquarters at Chatham in Kent.

The 3 RSME Regt provides initial combat engineering training over 12 weeks to soldiers on completion of their phase 1 basic training. Combat engineers are trained in bridging, demolitions and maintaining water supplies. REWW provide the Troop Commanders’ course to phase 2 officers and a 10-week digital communications training course to trainees who are selected for this, usually after they have completed combat engineer training.

At the time of the inspection, there were approximately 100 trainees under training at 3 RSME Regt and 27 in REWW. There are also around 400 3 RSME Regt trainees within Talavera troop. These trainees may be undergoing rehabilitation training after injury, waiting for driving licence training, or waiting for a return to their combat engineering course after extra support (for example, after failing physical assessments). The officers on the Troop Commanders’ course at REWW were on overseas training so were not included in this inspection.

URNUs provide training to university students who wish to experience life in the Royal Navy alongside their university studies. They usually spend between 1 and 4 years as part of the URNU, depending on the length of their university courses. There is no commitment for them to join the Royal Navy after university, although many do.

There are currently around 800 students, known as Officer Cadets (OCdts) based in 16 URNUs across the UK. There is also a new virtual URNU for OCdts who study at more remote universities. There are 2 new URNUs that have recently opened in Belfast and Nottingham. OCdts attend their URNUs once a week for training in the evenings, and for some weekends. They also carry out longer periods of training away from their units, such as for adventurous training or time at sea. The small URNU headquarters is based at Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, Devon. Inspectors visited 5 URNUs and the headquarters as part of this inspection.

HMS Sultan is a large and complex Defence training establishment on the Gosport peninsula. On average, there are approximately 1,350 trainees and 1,150 staff who are training or working at the base, with about 1,000 of these remaining on site overnight.

HMS Sultan comprises several separate schools and other units. This inspection covered the quality of welfare, care and training of phase 2 trainees at the Defence School of Marine Engineering (DSMarE) and the Royal Navy Air Engineering and Survival Equipment School (RNAESS).

At the time of the inspection, there were 351 phase 2 trainees and phase 2 officers in training in DSMarE, and 140 phase 2 trainees and phase 2 officers in training in RNAESS. Trainees follow a 30-week course.

Support for training includes the provision of personnel support services, such as the Royal Navy Family and People Support group and medical, dental and chaplaincy services. Catering, accommodation, facilities and personnel management are provided by a contractor.

RMSoM is a lodger unit within the boundaries of HMS Nelson and HM Naval Base, Portsmouth. RMSoM is based in the same location as the Royal Military School of Music (RMSM). RMSoM is a satellite school under the authority of the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines Specialist Wing and provides phase 2 and phase 3 music training. Only phase 2 musicians were within the scope of this inspection.

RMSoM trains phase 2 musicians. At the time of the inspection, there were 66 phase 2 musicians. All trainees arrive at RMSoM already performing a musical instrument to a minimum standard. RMSoM uses a training model known as a fixed mastery variable timescale (FMVT). Trainees spend different amounts of time in training, depending on the individual’s ability. Because of this training model, there is only one continuous course, rather than separate courses.

The inspection of RMSoM took place at the same time as an inspection of phase 2 training at the RMSM. As both units share the same facilities, infrastructure and resources, they were co-inspected and both reports include the same judgements.

RMSM is part of the Royal Corps of Army Music (RCAM). It moved recently from its long-term base at Kneller Hall in Twickenham to the same location as the Royal Marines School of Music (RMSoM), as a lodger unit at HMS Nelson in His Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB), Portsmouth. RMSM is part of the Royal School of Military Engineering Operational Group. It provides phase 2 and phase 3 training for Army musicians. Only phase 2 musicians were within the scope of this inspection.

At the time of the inspection, there were 35 phase 2 musicians. All trainees arrive at RMSM already performing a musical instrument to a minimum standard. RMSM uses a training model known as a fixed mastery variable timescale. Trainees spend different amounts of time in training, depending on the individual’s ability. Because of this training model, there is only one continuous course, rather than separate courses. Trainees leave phase 2 to join an Army band once staff deem them ready. There are no trainees waiting to start their phase 2 course, or out of programmed training for any reason.

The inspection of RMSM took place at the same time as an inspection of phase 2 training at the RMSoM. As both units share the same facilities, infrastructure and resources, they were co-inspected and both reports include the same judgements.

ITC Catterick provides infantry training. Phase 1 (basic training (BT)) and 2 (initial trade training (ITT)) are combined in the Combat Infantry Course (CIC). Junior soldiers (those who are under 18 at the start of their phase 1 training) who are going to join the infantry complete their BT at the Army Foundation College (AFC) in Harrogate before joining ITC to complete their ITT. The ITC trains all infantry soldiers joining the British Army.

ITC Catterick is divided into 3 battalions, of which 2 are infantry training battalions (ITB) and one is a support battalion (ITC). Both ITBs train recruits for phase 1 and phase 2 of their training. Phase 1 training consists of the first 3 units of the 7-module training course. Recruits remain in the same platoons throughout both phases of their training.

The 1st Infantry Training Battalion (1 ITB) is responsible for training soldiers who are going to join the infantry and rifles regiments of the British Army. It delivers the standard version of the CIC, which is 28 weeks’ long. 1 ITB has 4 training companies that deliver the CIC, and the Peninsular Training Company (PTC), which looks after and trains recruits and trainees who are not in programmed training due to injury or illness, or because they need to repeat aspects of training.

The 2nd Infantry Training Battalion (2 ITB) is responsible for training recruits who will join the Foot Guards, the Parachute Regiment and the Brigade of Gurkhas. It is also responsible for phase 2 training for junior entry recruits from AFC, Harrogate as well as training for the infantry elements of the Army Reserve. 2 ITB provides variations of the CIC to recruits and trainees, depending on their regimental roles and requirements.

The ITC Support Battalion provides support to ITC. Its specific functions include planning and resourcing training, and providing support services such as facilities management and medical and dental services. The ITC Support Battalion also provides courses at the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming in Edinburgh, and at the Army School of Ceremonial at ITC Catterick. These courses are for trained soldiers and were not included in this inspection.

At the time of the inspection, ITC Catterick had approximately 650 recruits in 1 ITB, 450 in 2 ITB and 218 Gurkhas in training. These numbers included recruits in phase 1 BT and trainees in phase 2 ITT. Of the 1,350 recruits and trainees, 130 were under 18 years of age and 16 were female.

The 3TPS recruits Reservist RAF police personnel and provides part 1, phase 2 training at RAF Honington. 3TPS is one of 2 Royal Auxiliary Air Force units at RAF Honington and cooperates with 2623 (East Anglia) Squadron to recruit for and deliver part of phase 1 training.

Phase 2, part 1 training consists of 6 training weekends at 3TPS, followed by phase 2, part 2 training. This is a 15-day continuous period known as ‘Exercise Griffin Endeavour’. This exercise is now carried out by staff at the Defence School of Policing and Guarding.

During the inspection there were 7 phase 2 trainees (3 female and 4 male) in training.

HMS Sherwood is a Royal Naval Reserve unit based in Nottingham, located in the same place as an Army Reserve unit. Staff provide phase 1 training for Reservist officer cadets (OCdts) and naval ratings (recruits). They also nurture applicants who are waiting to join as Reservists. OCdts and recruits attend training evenings once a week and occasional training weekends at HMS Sherwood. They complete task books during their training evenings, which include all the objectives they have to achieve. They also attend 2 development weekends and a 2-week confirmation course. For OCdts, these take place at Britannia Royal Naval College, and for recruits, they take place at HMS Raleigh. On the day of the inspection, one recruit and 5 OCdts were undergoing training. There were a total of 9 recruits and 6 OCdts in phase 1 training, and 9 applicants were waiting to join.

ATC(P) is about 30 miles west of London, close to the towns of Aldershot and Guildford. The ATC(P) provides basic training for new Regular and Reserve Army recruits joining a range of corps.

ATC(P) consists of 3 regiments, 2 of which provide training: 1 and 2 Army Training Regiments (ATRs) and a Headquarter Regiment (HQ Regt). ATC(P) provides phase 1 training for the Army Air Corps, Army Medical Services, Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Corps of Royal Engineers, Corps of Army Music, Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Regiment of Artillery, Royal Corps of Signals, Royal Logistic Corps, Adjutant General’s Corps and Intelligence Corps Regulars.

At the time of the inspection, the ATC(P) had around 683 recruits. Of the total, 1 ATR had 385 recruits and 2 ATR had 298 recruits. Of those, 45 were under 18 years of age and 116 were female recruits. There were 50 recruits in Normandy company for rehabilitation.

ATC(P) provides a 14-week Common Military Syllabus (CMS) to around 3,879 Regular recruits annually. It also provides Reserve training in the common military syllabus.

HQ Regt provides several support functions to ATC(P), including:

The MoD seeks to achieve the following:

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