Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme gets under way at Abbeywood School

Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme expedition by students at Abbeywood Community School.

More than 30 students from Years 9 and 12 at Abbeywood Community School (ACS) in Stoke Gifford have been training hard in recent months as the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award scheme has been introduced at the school for the first time. Cole Simpson, a teaching assistant at the school, is co-ordinating the scheme and is supporting the students as they work towards their qualifying expedition in July.

The DofE Award is very popular amongst young people around the country. It is available to people between the ages of 14-24 and consists of three levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold. Within each level, the participants need to complete four different sections – volunteering, physical, skills and expedition.

Mr Simpson said: “The school decided to run the DofE Award scheme to give students the opportunity to challenge themselves, give something back to the local community, improve their employability and help the wider community. I personally got involved because I like hiking and I wanted to be part of the expeditions. I also wanted to complete the award myself – although I am too old, so I am completing the sections anyway so I can fully understand the demands of DofE.”

After a successful fundraiser, the first Bronze DofE Award practice expedition was able to take place over the weekend of 16th and 17th March. The expedition saw the students using the skills they had learned and practised to make their way on foot from the outskirts of Pilning to Woodhouse Park Scout Camp near Almondsbury.

The kit needed for the expedition was bought with money raised at a quiz night held at Abbeywood Community School on Friday 1st March. The evening was deemed a huge success as over £300 was raised to go towards vital kit and travel costs for the expedition. The quiz was hosted by Abbeywood staff, Mr Clarke and Miss Sykes and organised by Mr Simpson, who said: “I would like to personally thank all those who supported the event. The money raised will go a long way in ensuring that the DofE Award scheme is successful at the school.”

Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme expedition by students at Abbeywood Community School.

Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme expedition by students at Abbeywood Community School.

Back in January, the students completing the award attended a skills day where they were taught navigation skills from a qualified instructor. Their first expedition gave them the chance to put these skills into practice as they made their way to the Scout camp. Despite the occasional bad weather, all of the students enjoyed the weekend and the opportunity to demonstrate their culinary skills as they produced a whole host of camp food, from pasta in sauce to fully loaded hotdogs!

Now that the students have completed the practice expedition, they can now finish preparing for the qualifying expedition that will take place on 9th and 10th July on the Mendip Hills. Although they are expecting the terrain to be more taxing, they are also hoping that the weather will be a lot better!

Once the qualifying expedition has been completed, the students can then move on to the Silver Award in September. Mr Simpson is hoping that the majority of those completing the Bronze Award will continue with the Silver Award as the DofE provides many benefits for the students. He said: “DofE benefits students in many ways: it builds confidence, helps improves fitness and gives participants an appreciation for the outdoors, as well as helping improve their college/university applications.”

Although this year, the DofE Bronze Award was only open to students in Years 9 and 12, next year, the school are hoping to run the Bronze and Silver Awards which will be open to Years 9, 10, 12 and 13.

To find out more about what the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award involves, visit www.dofe.org

This article originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on page 23). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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