Friday, April 12, 2019
In September 2018, Oldbury Wells became a Licensed Centre to operate the Duke of Edinburgh Award. This follows a handover of responsibility from Shropshire Council who previously operated the licence.
The Duke of Edinburgh Programme is open to young people from the age of 14 (Year 9) up until the age of 25. We have offered the programme to Year 9 students and the uptake has been very impressive.
Initially 100 Year 9 students expressed interest and subsequently a total of 64 students have enrolled onto Bronze Award. In addition, members of staff have been keen to volunteer their services. None had any previous experience of running Duke of Edinburgh so it has been a tremendous journey for everyone associated with the programme. Seven staff members have become leaders and two have trained as verifiers. Subsequently, three members of staff are now trained assessors.
Our students have been busy since Christmas undertaking hours of volunteering work as part of their award. This has included working with local charities and organisations as well as assisting elderly members of the community with tasks such as shopping and gardening. Students have also been busy learning new skills, including a foreign language, music, drama and animal handling. A third part of the programme is to undertake a physical activity and many have joined local sports clubs to work on this, some even becoming sports leaders.
The final part of the award includes undertaking an expedition with two days of walking and an overnight camp. Students have learned First Aid skills and will shortly be developing their camping craft and orienteering skills. We have been very fortunate to secure generous sponsorship from Bridgnorth Aluminium to help pay for tents and expedition kit. This provides opportunity for the programme to be developed further next year by offering students the chance to progress to Silver Award.
Duke of Edinburgh Manager, Mr Sawyer has been very impressed with the level of commitment and involvement shown by students undertaking the award. He said, "Many are showing excellent teamwork skills and several have become more self-confident and better communicators. We are extremely grateful to Bridgnorth Aluminium for the sponsorship given to us which enables us to significantly develop the programme over future years. The community spirit within Oldbury Wells has been demonstrated by the willingness of staff to give up their time to support and train all the young people. We have the ambition to allow any student access to the programme in the future and plan to work closely with the local community through the volunteering aspect of the award."
Students taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award were keen to share their experience of the programme so far. Here are some of their comments:
"I have learned lots of new things such as how to use a spirit burner. I am enjoying this experience and will do my Silver and Gold."
"Duke of Edinburgh volunteering has been a real eye-opener for me and I have been able to help people who need assistance."
"The Duke of Edinburgh activities have really pushed me our of my comfort zone to try new things."
"It is a very memorable time of my life. I have learned so many life lessons and I am only halfway through the programme. The experience is going to be most memorable for me and I am very glad I chose to do this."
"The Duke of Edinburgh scheme is an experience like no other – allowing young people to connect with the outdoors and become more independent, giving them freedom from games consoles."
"Words cannot describe how much of a fabulous, thrilling time I have had!"
"Doing volunteer work at a church for my Duke of Edinburgh award has inspired me to do more for my community. It has helped me to feel part of my community."