students overcome new challenges to achieve DoE awards

Tuesday January 19, 2021

In a year of academic disruption, Concord students adapted to the new challenges of extracurricular activities, including the Duke of Edinburgh (DoE) awards. Despite the college temporarily closing and transitioning to an online learning programme in March 2020, 19 students completed the award (3 Bronze and 16 Silver) before the New Year, with most students undertaking their final expedition in the Autumn Term. A further 9 students are awaiting a safe time to do their final expedition, in order to complete their awards. And reflecting on the challenges of DoE during a global pandemic, Concord’s Head of Outdoor Education, Mrs Ruth Newton-Badman said: “Last year’s groups have been particularly impressive – in the absence of expeditions, DoE introduced Certificates of Achievement to recognise students who completed their volunteering, skill and physical sessions. “DoE allowed students to change their chosen activities to better suit their situation. “At Concord, we encouraged boarding students in particular to choose new opportunities on campus including support in preparing and delivering an event to raise awareness and funds for their chosen charities and a new nature and wildlife conservation club for Form 3. “There has also been some great volunteering with day and overseas students back in their communities supporting neighbours who are elderly with their shopping and more. “Fortunately, almost all students at the college have still managed to take part in their expeditions through various adaptions to ensure Covid-19 safety and government guidelines were adhered to. “Such guidelines included restricting groups to a maximum of 5 students with a supporting staff member, and Concord’s SMT were able to approve ‘camping’ elements of trips to take part on campus, on the college’s Hall Meadow.” Students were transported to and from college each day and night to set up camp; cooking their meals on Trangia stoves positioned at safe social distancing; single occupancy tents were used, and with separate portable facilities and year group bubbles, the camps ran extremely smoothly. Speaking of the difficulties of DoE last year, Silver Award participant, Wing Hin from Concord’s Sixth Form said: “When remote learning was introduced in March, I was unable to attend my violin lessons and work on my goals for DoE as normal. “Fortunately, my violin teacher and I have kept contact with each other through Outlook. “One of the main challenges I encountered was keeping the motivation high to practice at home without regular lessons, while continuously improving and monitoring my right-hand bowing posture, as stated as one of my initial goals. “I think DoE has provided me with the skills to persevere and to be more self-reflective. “Whilst we returned to campus later in the year and government and DoE introduced new rules affecting our practical expeditions, we still had to do our normal routines such as map reading and walking, packing up and setting up the tents, cooking dinner every day and sleeping overnight in our tents.” Since March 2020, a further 66 students have started the DoE awards; 44 students who were new to the college in September, at Bronze (38 of whom are in Form 3), 10 at Silver and 12 at Gold. Mrs Newton-Badman added: “A huge well done again to all students involved in the DoE awards. “As well as the recognition of the awards, I think that those students involved in volunteering, skills, walks and expeditions have found the change of scenery a refreshing experience, which has lightened their mind set and eased some of the stress they are undoubtably feeling from global circumstances. “For now, we are awaiting later guidance to see whether any of the planned 2021 expeditions will be able to take place in the Summer Term.”