Tile Cross Academy has won the school/college category of the prestigious Social Mobility Awards 2020.  The award was announced on Thursday 8th October 2020 during a special online awards ceremony.

On making the award to Tile Cross Academy, the organisers commented that the Academy was: “Committed to providing equal access to education and opportunities to all.”

TS Stirling Sea Cadets take part in canoeing during their expedition to the USA

Tile Cross Academy serves one of the most disadvantaged communities in Birmingham.  On top of this many of the pupils are recently arrived migrants with significant additional barriers to social mobility.

On winning the award Neil Mackintosh, Head of Social Mobility at Tile Cross Academy, said: We were delighted to be named as winners of the School/College of the Year in the UK Social Mobility Awards 2020.  The opportunities provided by our Sea Cadet unit were a major part of our submission, many of which have been generously funded by The Ulysses Trust.  The skills and personal qualities developed by these experiences are acknowledged to be drivers of social mobility and without the support of the Trust they would have been beyond the financial reach of our pupils/cadets.”

With support from The Ulysses Trust and other funding sources, cadets from Tile Cross Academy’s Sea Cadet unit, TS Stirling Sea Cadets and other participating units have taken part in a total of seven expeditions enabling 105 cadets to benefit from extraordinary outdoor activities in the UK, USA and Italy.

The Ulysses Trust helps cadets across the UK to take part in unique adventures by providing financial assistance to reduce the cost of the exercises to cadets and their families and make these fantastic experiences affordable to all.  The Trust is particularly keen to support disadvantaged young people, and almost half the cadets taking part in expeditions through Tile Cross Academy and TS Stirling were in receipt of Free School Meals.  A total amount of £20,806 has been awarded by The Ulysses Trust over three years to these young ‘Brummies’.  And in 2017 an exercise delivered by TS Stirling and supported by The Ulysses Trust was recognised for its outstanding achievement by winning a Prince of Wales’s Expeditionary Award.

TS Stirling Sea Cadets took part in a variety of activities during their expedition to Boston

The most recent example of these expeditions is Ex: Yankee Stirling Venturer 2019 when the unit deployed to Massachusetts, Boston to undertake a mixture of adventurous training, leadership development tasks, military skills training and military history.  Initially, the cadets took part in ceremonial events and visits to the local coast guard and maritime police facilities.  This was followed by the main event, a Junior Cadet Leadership Challenge at Fort Devens US Army Reserve Training Centre.

Although not physically arduous or challenging from a strictly adventurous training point view this camp was a significant test for the cadets.  A ‘standard’ unit adventurous training expedition will involve cadets undertaking challenges with their friends and peers so there is a feeling of togetherness and familiarity with the people if not the activity.

These cadets arrived at the camp and were immediately separated from all their friends and the sense of disorientation generated a lot of self-confidence issues and home sickness.  Simply being put in a room with eight ‘strangers’ you don’t know is daunting for any 14-year-old away from home for the first time.  However, by the end of the week they had made new friends and undertaken a significant amount of the personal development in a short space of time.

For all of the cadets, whatever their nationality, the camp was a challenge. All the participants were from areas of deprivation and were well outside their comfort zone on the activities and the camp environment.  The heat, long days, and strange food presented significant challenges to the teenagers.

TS Stirling Sea Cadets take part in leadership and teamwork activities

This exercise was a life changing opportunity for all the UK cadets. S ome had never flown before and the personal development journey that they went on will help them to have more successful lives as adults.

Speaking about their experiences on the expedition, the cadets commented it was ‘the best week of my life so far’ and ‘an eye opener and a life-changing experience’.

The exercise was a resounding success and inspired TS Stirling to continue to push adventurous activities as a powerful tool to transform the lives of its cadets, which has been recognised by winning a SOMOS Award.

You can watch a short video of the expedition on Youtube here.

The Ulysses Trust welcomes applications from Cadet, Reservist and University Officer units seeking financial assistance for their own expeditions. The Trust also welcomes donations to help support others to benefit from these life-changing experiences.  Find out more or make a donation via their website at www.ulyssestrust.co.uk

To find out more about the Sea Cadets, or our other cadet forces, visit our webpage here.