Duke of Edinburgh Award
The Duke of Edinburgh Award is a universally recognised award for outstanding effort and commitment and shows that a young person has gone above and beyond in order to achieve it. It has allowed us to showcase what our pupils are capable of, given the appropriate support and encouragement. At GSSC we are aspirational about the achievements of each one of our pupils, and support everyone to make a contribution to their wider community. We embrace the Duke of Edinburgh Award’s aim of “setting personal challenges and pushing personal boundaries” for every young person. As a school we regularly think outside of the box, and find innovative ways to overcome challenges, and using the Duke of Edinburgh Awards as a way of demonstrating this provides our pupils with the same opportunities for personal challenge as any other young person of the same age.
Each element of the Duke of Edinburgh Award provides challenges to be overcome, but the expedition pushes everyone out of their comfort zone – staff as well as pupils. The achievement of a Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award is testament to overcoming personal challenges. Skills that pupils have learnt throughout their time at GSSC are tested as they communicate with staff they may not be very familiar with, to be as independent as possible, to work with others as part of a team, and to accept change to their usual routine. The Duke of Edinburgh Award is the best preparation we could provide for each pupils for their life after GSSC.
Parent’s point of view :
What do you feel your child has gained from doing the DofE?
'... loves new experiences and meeting new people'
'As a family we never imagined ... would be able to be part of such a prestigious award scheme and are so grateful the programme could be adjusted so she could take part and share her achievements.'
More confidence, faced up to the unknown challenge
'Some independence skills and mixing with others'
'Another experience that previously would have been impossible. It was a fantastic opportunity for ... to take part and it be recognised, in doing something her able-bodies peers take part in.'
What was the most challenging part and why?
'Accommodating all ... medical needs including sleeping arrangement.'
Probably worrying about the weather ...out of our control!'
'Overnight camp and ensuring powered wheelchair was charged. Also not knowing where he was going and his anxiety about the unknown, but he coped and enjoyed himself and the challenge.'
'Probably staying away from home'
'As a parent, letting go and trusting the school staff to manage ... overnight.'
All of our pupils in Post 16 work towards the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award as part of their bespoke curriculum. The activities they complete towards each section are individualised and tailored to each pupil’s needs, but typically include: Physical – archery, tennis, boccia and curling; Skills – cooking, from snacks to simple meals; Voluntary - litter picking in Lings Wood, gardening at Glamis Hall, improving the local environment; Expedition – walking/travelling the Brampton Valley Way from Kingsthorpe to Market Harborough, exploring the Grand Union Canal on narrowboat from Blisworth to Bugbrooke. The Duke of Edinburgh Award is delivered during the school day, with the exception of the Expedition’s overnight stay which usually takes place in the summer term of Year 13.
Our first expedition in 2019 was walking along the Brampton Valley Way and staying overnight in bell tents. The walk was tiring for some, but it was great to take some time out and really appreciate our surroundings. We followed enlarged OS maps, keeping an eye out for key landmarks like the roads and church spires. The second day was the wettest day we had had in ages and we were drenched very quickly! Walking through the tunnels was a relief as at least they offered shelter – though quite challenging in an electric wheelchair we discovered! This group was small but quite mixed including pupils with Autism, and physical needs.
The second expedition was with a PMLD group, including some pupils with complex medical needs. This expedition took some careful thought and planning to ensure it was accessible, yet still appropriate. We journeyed along the Grand Union Canal on a specially adapted narrow boat, using a bag of sensory props to map out the different experiences the pupils may encounter along the way. Sleeping in school became the best way to meet the varying complexities of each pupils’ needs for the overnight stay, with waking overnight staff to support with this. The narrow boat journey provided a constant and ever changing range of sensory experiences for the pupils to encounter, from the changes in light and sound as we passed under trees or under bridges, to the smells of the boats and the canal water. The pupils loved meeting other canal users and being greeted with waves and smiles as we went along.