120 Students enjoy an away day with the Army in Maidstone

One hundred and twenty school pupils from across the South East of England descended on Invicta Park Barracks in Maidstone to enjoy a day out with the British Army.

Organised and run by the Army in the South East Engagement Team, the day was designed to showcase the many opportunities and open the eyes of students and pupils to the myriad of trades and professions that they can take up on leaving education. Major James Titchener, from the Engagement Team, said, “This has been one of the main events of the Army in the South East’s Schools’ Programme which is aimed at the Year 10 age group, when they have started their GCSEs and are considering their futures. The programme up to this point has seen us visiting schools and explaining what the Army does. This is a continuation of that engagement and offers real hands-on opportunities to interact face-to-face with both regular and reserve soldiers.”

"it has intrigued me a lot especially as its not all about the fighting. I’d quite like to be a front-line medic; on the battlefield helping the soldiers when they get injured. I feel I’d get quite a lot out of it. Not only is it good pay, but then you feel rewarded when you help people.” Daizy Bing, Student

There was plenty on display for the students to learn of, see and try out for themselves. With the visit being run at Invicta Park Barracks, home to 36 Regiment Royal Engineers, clearly, there was going to be an assortment of plant and machinery for the visitors to jump into the cabs of and try their hands at having a go. One of the more popular was a backhoe excavator in which the students had to carefully position a hanging bucket into a confined space. Joining the Royal Engineers were the engagement teams from the Queen’s Division, representing the infantry elements, the Royal Logistic Corps and the Royal Mechanical & Electrical Engineers supported by 103 Battalion REME.

13-year-old Daizy Bing was just one of the 120 students who were clearly impressed by what they experienced throughout the day.  “I always thought the Army was just about combat and fighting, but today I’ve learnt there’s a lot more to it – you have engineering, medical all sorts really. The vehicles have impressed me, you think they just have tanks but really, they have machines that can lift things up and do all sorts; that was quite cool to see. I feel it’s made it a lot more interesting and that it could potentially be a career path, it has intrigued me a lot especially as it's not all about the fighting. I’d quite like to be a front-line medic; on the battlefield helping the soldiers when they get injured. I feel I’d get quite a lot out of it. Not only is it good pay, but then you feel rewarded when you help people.” 

“The Army’s values and standards underpins a lot of what we’ve seen today and mirrors the qualities we are trying to instil in the students at school and apply to their studies: discipline, respect for others, selfless commitment and so forth we’ve seen modelled here today. " Simon Sharples, Deputy Head Teacher, Sandwich Technical School

Speaking of his students’ day out with the Army, Deputy Head Master at Sandwich Technical School, Simon Sharples said, “The students have benefitted from today in many ways, firstly from the responsibility of careers education; their minds have been opened to a far deeper understanding of the careers available in the Army and the preparation that has gone into today has enabled them to see a range that is much wider than they previously thought.” He went on to comment; “The Army’s values and standards underpins a lot of what we’ve seen today and mirrors the qualities we are trying to instil in the students at school and apply to their studies: discipline, respect for others, selfless commitment and so forth we’ve seen modelled here today. Some students here today are not likely to experiment much or likely to have too many experiences at home and the pandemic has further restricted the opportunities available to them, so days like today certainly broaden their horizons.”  

For many of the visiting students this was principally a golden opportunity for them to get a glimpse at what they may be considering as a career path; for others though, a day to remember the time they spent with the Army and learnt a little of what it does at home in the UK and how it helps to support our country’s interests overseas.