The Duke of Edinburgh Award
The Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh Awards are in their 6th year at the school and are constantly growing in number as more and more pupils realise how important it is to have extracurricular qualifications to complement their academic achievements. The Awards provide pupils with evidence of skills which cannot be gained within the classroom.
The awards are split into four sections - Volunteering, a Skill, a Sport and an Expedition.
For Volunteering, participants have to undertake 3 months of community service at Bronze level, and 6 months at Silver. Some of the activities pupils have undertaken in the past include recycling for the School’s Green Team, being a reading buddy for younger pupils in the school, working in a charity shop, gardening within the community, altar serving in church or helping the elderly. This section provides an excellent opportunity for pupils to make a difference to others.
The Skills section requires participants to either learn a new skill, or develop an existing one, such as music/drama lessons or extra GCSE classes, and this is undertaken for at least three months.
The third section is a Sport. This section of the award involves one hour of physical activity a week that can be done either in school or outside. Previous participantshave played for the school football or netball teams, learnt to box or row, or taken part in swimming or dance classes.
The Expedition makes up the fourth and final section of the Award. At Bronze level it involves a 3 day/2 night training and practice expedition, and then a 2 day/1 night assessed final expedition. For the Silver Award participants do a 3 day/2 night practice expedition, before a 3 day/2 night final assessed expedition. Pupils have to plan and prepare everything for these two expeditions – from route planning and menu planning to organising their group and personal kit. They learn in valuable skills while on expedition including safe camp craft, basic first aid and how to successfully navigate.
With the addition of the 6th form in 2012 we also now offer the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, which is an extension of the Bronze and Silver awards.
It follows the same broad format as Bronze and Silver with the Volunteering, Skills and Sport sections, however they do each section for longer (between 6 and 18 months). In addition to this, the participants need to complete a Residential Trip, spending 5 days and 4 nights away from home on a shared activity with people they have never met before. It might involve building on a talent that has been developed in another section, learning something completely new or doing something to help others - from learning to snowboard in Scotland to helping at a children’s camp, or from learning French in Paris to sailing a tall ship! Like with Bronze and Silver, the final part of the award is the Expedition, which is the most challenging part of the award. Participants complete 2 training weekends in the South Downs, a practice expedition in year 12 for 4 days/3 nights and then the final expedition in year 13 for 4 days/3 nights. Both of these are in challenging terrain, either in the Brecon Beacons or the Peak District.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award provides pupils with skills that are invaluable for the world of work. Participants learn how crucial it is to be able to work as part of a team and develop their leadership skills. They must be organised, stick to deadlines and never arrive late or fail to attend sessions. A quality that is often overlooked, but one that the award seeks to enhance, is interpersonal skills. If participants cannot communicate effectively as a group, they will find it very difficult to complete the expedition phase of the award. Through its different sections, the Award really pushes candidates both physically and mentally; and it ensures that many young people realise their potential and utilise their talents. The Award also provides pupils with a well recognised qualification. Employers hold the Duke of Edinburgh Awards in high esteem because they realise the skills and commitment participants must demonstrate in order to achieve it.