by Mr Davies
“The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a balanced programme of activities, which gives recognition of a young person’s successful journey of self-discovery and development.”
At Bassaleg School, we have always been eager to give our students the opportunity to develop themselves both academically and with extra-curricular activities. Unfortunately, due to COVID, the Duke of Edinburgh scheme took a back seat, but we are delighted to be able to offer the opportunity once again to various age-group students.
Under the experienced guidance of Mr Parker and Mrs Redfern, who have been running and organising Duke of Edinburgh as well as other expedition work since 1998, a new team of teacher volunteers last year supported 16 year 11 & 12 students on both their practice and final expeditions. These students were successful in achieving for both their Silver and Gold awards.
For their qualifications, students work hard on four main elements: Physical, Skill, Volunteering and Expedition, with an additional Residential section in the Gold award. Participants commit to extra-curricular activities as well as establishing links and joining clubs in the surrounding community.
Through this programme, students are exposed to a variety of activities that they may not have ventured into otherwise.
The options are almost limitless and range from volunteering for local charities, rescue centres, church and youth groups, to taking up circus skills, cooking and singing. Students are encouraged to challenge themselves with an activity that pushes them outside of their comfort zone. At Bassaleg, participants are supported within school to remain committed to continuing with activities. Depending on the level of the award, this can range between an hour a week for three months at Bronze level, or up to a year for Silver and Gold.
Bassaleg School encourages such a rewarding scheme as it greatly enriches school life. Furthermore, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards are valued by universities and employers, with successful completion demonstrating commitment, determination and independence.
This year, Bassaleg School has been awarded Centre Status for the Newport Area, meaning we can be more flexible and unrestricted in certain aspects of the expedition element of the award.
Alongside last year’s cohort of students, who are moving to their Gold Awards, we have a new selection of year 11 students having weekly training sessions on key skills in anticipation of expeditions later in the school year.
Some of these skills are Map and compass work, first aid training, planning an expedition route, kit checks, camping skills including outdoor cooking, and various other essential skills – all ensuring the students when on expedition are safe and trained for all scenarios.
Even the staff volunteers have been receiving updated training sessions on various elements too, all for the safety of our students.
Now don’t get me wrong, a few days away from a stuffy classroom in July may not sound ideal to everyone - especially knowing that you’ll be out camping in the wilderness yourselves – but seeing the excitement on students faces when they see their campsites after a -7 hour hike, walking with a student who is finding the hike particularly hard and just encouraging them every step of the way, and seeing their determination to reach the check-points is rewarding enough for this maths teacher!
The bonds these students form, sometimes with students they may never have spoken to before, are kept for life, and everyone pulls together as a group. Just recalling situations like putting up tents or cooking in pitch black or pouring rain really encourages teamwork and camaraderie. As a former Duke of Edinburgh Award student myself (a LONG time ago!), I know they’ll be able to look back on these experiences in the future with fond memories.
Going forward as a team of teachers, we hope to be able to offer these opportunities to more students going forward, and as ever getting the help and support from you the parents and carers is always welcome.
Thank you again,