NI 1st 1

1st (NI) Bn Cadets Complete BTEC Award During Lockdown

The Cadet Vocational Qualification Office (CVQO), administers many qualifications for the Army Cadet Force. The BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Teamwork and Personal Development is available to cadets within the ACF who are 16 and have completed Junior Cadet Instructor Cadre (JCIC).

1st (NI) Bn Cadets Complete BTEC Award During Lockdown

26 April 2021

  • 1st Northern Ireland Battalion ACF

The Battalion CVQO Officer (Capt. Blackwood) identifies potential candidates at the beginning of September each year. This was done in the normal way in 2020.

In March 2020, planning was well underway to hold the annual BTEC training event, where enrolled cadets would complete the two workbooks that are required in addition to their cadet achievements to complete the diploma, which is roughly equivalent to 4 GCSE’s.

Then along came the lockdown…

With the suspension of face-to-face training, an alternative had to be found quickly to enable the 10 enrolled cadets to complete their qualifications.

Capt. Blackwood created a series of training videos, approximately 8 hours of content, which would deliver the additional training required to complete the tasks set in the workbooks. Additionally, a Facebook group was created for the candidates and additional staff, including Lt. Montgomery, the C Coy CVQO officer. Cadets were then able to submit their completed workbooks online via the CVQO virtual learning environment (VLE).


Despite the problems caused by the pandemic and online school, 3 C Coy cadets were the first to be awarded their diplomas in 2020, Carolyn Morrow (Glengormley), Emma Ellison (Larne) and Joe Simpson (Ballymena). Also achieving their qualifications in 2020 were:

Johnny Brimage A Coy - Cookstown (now in Army and completed during his basic training)

Alan Clarke – C Coy Ballymena

Hollie Burton A Coy - Dungannon

Alicia Campbell – B Coy - Lisneal

Cora Jayne Crieghton D Coy - Carrick Open

Robert Allen - D Coy - Carrick Open

Sophie Galloway - D Coy Whitehouse

Johnny Hull - D Coy Model Schools

When it became clear that face to face training would not recommence in winter of 2020, and that BTEC would have to stay online, the lessons learned in March were incorporated by Capt. Blackwood into a new set of training videos, using more professional software to give a more natural feel to the lessons, and rather than using a social media platform, the lessons were organised onto a “Google Classroom” - an educational system used by many schools and colleges.

In January 2021, due to low uptake from other ACF counties, CVQO gave the battalion permission to enrol additional cadets, beyond the number of places normally allocated. The Battalion now has a further 15 cadets enrolled, and C Coy are leading the way again with our first completion of 2021 by Ciara McKay of Antrim (pictured). Three additional cadets have submitted their portfolios for assessment and are awaiting results.

Congratulations to all cadets who have worked so hard to achieve their BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Teamwork and Personal Development under exceptionally challenging circumstances, several of whom have now aged out. We wish them all every success in their future careers.