Headquarters Initial Training Group (HQ ITG) is responsible for the delivery of basic training to up to 7,000 recruits annually. It is also home to more than 1,300 training staff. Known as the Common Military Syllabus (CMS), basic training seeks not only to develop the knowledge and skills required to be a soldier, but also to instil the attitudes that the Army demands from its personnel.

“As conceptual training goes, Compass For Life is the best I have ever done.”

Sergeant Phil MacPhail, RMP

Initially, we set up a detailed pilot project with a research base behind it. This informed a comprehensive five-phase programme that worked first with the ITG trainers and then the new recruits. In a bespoke programme, all four cardinals of the Compass For Life philosophy were explored in detail – each given their own module on a syllabus. We assembled an elite team of Navigators– coaches, psychologists, project managers and researchers– to prepare and deliver the programme, achieved through a combination of lectures, seminars, and workshops. They were all subject leaders in their field whom participants described as being a privilege to learn from. Rigorous academic theory and modelling went into the programme, underpinned by acclaimed research in areas of mood, ethics, aspiration and childhood development. Essential for this kind of investment, the programme was designed in such a way that detailed measurements of its effectiveness could be reported on afterwards.

"There’s so many tools that I’ve learned that not only can I use for myself, but I will definitely instill in the recruits and actually tell them how to do it. So it’s a tool that anybody could us."

-Corporal Rosie Hart, RLC

Not only did the training staff feel significantly upskilled for their own development, but it also empowered them to instil these skills inthe recruits. They described how the tools and techniques learnt would be especially helpful to those recruits who struggle in the transition from civilian to soldier. In a world where we know that even just marginal gains count, the post-programme analytics found significant improvement in key metrics:

  • “Overall emotional stability” improved by circa. 15%
  • “Clarity of goals” improved by circa. 30%
  • “Overall resilience” improved by circa. 10%
  • “Tough decision making” improved by circa. 20%

From the very top to bottom of his organisation, the Commander of ITG, Brigadier Mike Butterwick, considers the programme a resounding success, making an impact at every rank.

Brigadier Mike Butterwick

Commander, Initial Training Group

“The value of Compass for Life doesn’t stop with our instructors and recruits. I am the commander of Initial Training Group (ITG), and I use the Compass. I use it because it’s a great way to set out the vision that I see of ITG over the next few years. It also teaches me the mental resilience that I will need if that vision is going to become a reality. And I would say that any commanding officer, or any leader of people, may want to look at their own lives or professional development and see how Compass For Life would work for them. From recruit to commanding officer of ITG, this is a powerful tool to use.”

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