Army Foundation College
|Army Foundation College Harrogate|
|Active||1947–1996 (as the Army Apprentices School, Harrogate)
3 August 1998–to date
|Role||Phase 1 Training Establishment|
|Size||~1,300 soldiers under training
~500 permanent staff
|Part of||Initial Training Group (ITG)|
|Location||Uniacke Barracks, Penny Pot Lane, Harrogate HG3 2SE|
|Motto(s)||Trust, Courage, Team Spirit|
|Colours||Red, Yellow & Green|
|Commanding Officer||Lt Col RJ Hall MBE Yorks|
The Army Foundation College (AFC) is located in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England. It is the only British Army establishment that delivers initial military training (Phase 1 training) to Junior Soldiers (aged between 16 years and 17 years, 5 months).
The Royal Signals Apprentices School was established in Harrogate to provide military and vocational training for the Royal Corps of Signals, Royal Artillery (RA) and Royal Engineers (RE) in 1947. It was renamed the Army Apprentices College in 1961 when the RA and RE were relocated, providing Royal Signals training until it closed in 1998. In September 1998, the site reopened as the Army Foundation College to provide initial military training to the army's youngest enlisted trainees, aged between 16 years and 17 years, 5 months, for a range of combat arms and services. It was rebuilt by Jarvis under a private finance initiative contract worth £526.6 million between 2000 and 2002.
Intake and retention
There are two entry points, in September and March; and two graduations, in August and February, each year.
- Junior Soldiers enlisted for roles in combat arms (the infantry, Royal Artillery and Royal Armoured Corps) are enrolled on a 42-week course.
- Junior Soldiers enlisted for other army trades complete a shorter, 22-week course.
Despite the differing course lengths, all recruits are trained to the same standard of the Common Military Syllabus (see Selection and Training in the British Army).
Junior Soldiers who complete their Phase 1 training proceed to their Phase 2 courses (military trade training) at other establishments.
According to the Ministry of Defence, it costs the British Army approximately £62 million per annum to operate AFC. In 2014–15, the cost per successfully trained recruit (who proceeded to complete their Phase 2 trade training) was £90,000 for those on the 42-week course (this includes all infantry trainees) and £38,000 for those on the 22-week course.
AFC has been criticised for costing three times as much to deliver Phase 1 training to a 16-year-old infantry recruit as the equivalent cost for a recruit aged 17.5 and above at the Infantry Training Centre. The British Army's policy of enlisting from age 16 has also been criticised for leading to lower trainee retention than is found among adult recruits; between 2009–10 and 2013–14, 33% of enlisted minors dropped out of army training (versus 24% of adult recruits).
In view of developing children's rights standards and evidence showing a detrimental impact of military training and employment on younger recruits, several bodies, including the Children's Commissioners for each of the four nations of the UK, have also called on the armed forces to raise the minimum age of enlistment to 18.
In response to these concerns, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) defended the current policy, stating in 2016: 'The army needs to attract school and college leavers at the earliest opportunity.' In the same year, the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, added: '[T]he fact that our junior entry is always 100% manned is indicative of people finding that it is something that is really positive to do.'
In 2017, the MOD confirmed reports that 17 instructors at AFC would be standing trial at court martial for 40 counts of alleged physical abuse of recruits during battle camp at Kirkudbright, Scotland. ForcesTV, the Mail on Sunday, and the Guardian reported that the allegations included assault, holding trainees' heads under water, and forcing animal dung into their mouths. At a preliminary hearing in September 2017, the accused pleaded not guilty to all charges pending a full hearing in February 2018.
- Association of Harrogate Apprentices – includes a general history of Uniacke Barracks
- Selection and Training in the British Army
- Military recruitment
- Recruit training
- Military service
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- Ministry of Defence. "Defence in the media: Sunday 13 August 2017 (Court Martial of 17 Army instructors)". modmedia.blog.gov.uk. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
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- Morris, Steven; agency (21 September 2017). "UK army instructors in court over claims they physically abused teen recruits". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- Army Foundation College, Harrogate – British Army website.