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Ofsted praise for submariner and commando training

A weapon engineer on a Trafalgar-class submarine checks one of his systems
28 October 2020
‘Outstanding’ – that is the verdict of Ofsted inspectors on the welfare, training and support Scotland’s largest military base provides for the submarines of tomorrow.

HM Naval Base Clyde – home of the Royal Navy’s Submarine Flotilla – was singled out for praise by Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, following visits by her teams to more than 20 military training establishments across the Services.

Experts visited single-Service bases such as Clyde and the Royal Marines’ Commando Training Centre at Lympstone, near Exeter.

They also assessed combined training centres such as the Defence School of Policing (at the former HMS Dryad site in Southwick near Portsmouth), and reservist units HMS Scotia (Rosyth) and King Alfred (Portsmouth), plus Southampton and Oxford University Royal Naval Units.

They assessed each base or unit on the effectiveness and quality of welfare and duty of care support staff offer trainees, as well as how effective leadership is in making improvements.

At HM Naval Base Clyde, the Ofsted team focused on the Submarine School – where trainees have already undergone basic naval training before starting their professional training ready to join a nuclear-powered submarine.

The inspectors found the school’s instructors went beyond ‘merely’ supplying the Fleet with men and women highly trained to meet the demands of the Silent Service, doing their utmost to ensure trainees felt at home at Faslane or sorted out transport to and from the base – particularly important given its somewhat isolated location.

Ofsted says the combination of quality training and care/welfare support has paid off as “trainees worked hard, supported one another well and were fiercely proud of their role as submariners” and joined front-line boats having received “excellent training for the rigours of their role ahead.”

The inspectors spent time with both Royal Marine young officers and recruits at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone.

The rated the quality of welfare and care arrangements as ‘outstanding’, with particular care shown to recruits under 18, while the specialist rehabilitation unit, Hunter Company, offers ‘excellent support’ to help injured recruits resume their training.

And given the relatively high percentage of recruits who don’t complete the 32-week/15 month ranks/officer course, Ofsted were impressed by help and guidance given to those returning to civvy street – having made every effort to persuade them to remain in the military.

The inspectors did – more and better food options, improved laundry facilities – and better education of would-be officers about the demands of their training before they arrive at Lympstone.

Southampton’s URNU gives undergraduates a solid grounding in life – whether they subsequently choose to join the RN or not – combining good training with excellent opportunities to work with the Navy all around the world.

It’s a similar case at Oxford, with welfare support impressing the inspection team while efforts by the unit’s staff had improved recruitment, retention and the training environment.

Welfare support at Portsmouth-based HMS King Alfred was found to be good – but trainees often struggle getting their hands on the right kit due to ‘excessive’ bureaucracy.

Ofsted would like to see improved information for trainees arriving at HMS Scotia – especially information about fitness levels demanded of the Service – and better provision of courses and training to spare personnel having to make the lengthy journey to southern England.

The full report can be read at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/welfare-and-duty-of-care-in-armed-forces-initial-training/welfare-and-duty-of-care-in-armed-forces-initial-training-2019-to-2020#summary-reports-in-date-order--reserve-establishments

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