Duke of Edinburgh Award – Summer 2020

Wednesday 19 August 2020 | By Samantha Hockney

Covid-19 may have scuppered our usual Easter Duke of Edinburgh training and expedition programmes, however, it has not stopped our pupils completing their awards this summer!

Throughout lockdown, Teesside High School pupils continued to work very hard on their Skill, Physical and Volunteering Award sections, with many using the DofE’s initiative Duke of Edinburgh with a difference. Overall we had over 75% of our Bronze candidates finish two or more of these sections before they set off on their expeditions, and an impressive 75% of Silver pupils finishing all three.

Over the last few months, we worked very closely with the MAC team to ensure our pupils had the opportunity to finish their awards within the academic year as usual. In order to do this, our Bronze groups were split into two separate ‘bubbles’; each pupil had individual tents, stoves and fuel bottles and we limited the use of the school minibuses in order to maintain social distancing. Thank you to our parents for their support in dropping and picking up their children at the relevant pick-up points.

With these plans in place, we are pleased to report a successful Silver practice expedition, completion of Bronze training and two successful Bronze final expeditions.

The Silver group were the first to take to the countryside. Their expedition was held in the Cleveland Hills and they were blessed with beautiful sunshine. On the first day, they worked well as a team to navigate themselves to the campsite in good time. Their second day saw them with a challenging distance but they made it to the campsite in good time for a night of listening to music and creating a team DofE playlist! On the final morning the group woke up to rain pounding the tents; despite the miserable weather they still managed to celebrate Lexie’s birthday with banners, balloons and cake – a real high to finish the practice expedition.

The next to get their boots on were our Bronze groups. Bubble A scheduled for Sunday (sunshine and blue skies) and Bubble B the very next day (torrential rain and grey skies – a standard British summer!) Nevertheless, both groups focused on refreshing their navigation skills; they completed a circular walk from Clay Bank with some scrambling up to Wainstones. All four groups had different challenges to overcome and all did so with success. Following a final kit check for their expedition, our pupils left for the day hike (with Bubble B rather wet!)

A week later saw the start of Bronze Expeditions with Bubble A out first, again being very lucky with the weather, sunshine all round. Both groups set off enthusiastically and in good spirits, group one took a steady approach to their RV points and group two flew through their first few check-ins, surprising us all with their pace. Both groups showed some brilliant navigation, making it to camp in great time. The next morning saw an early and warm start, with both groups showing determination to finish as quickly as possible. With aching feet, both groups managed to finish at 2.15pm, exceptional timing! Both groups in Bubble A passed the expedition with flying colours, with many pupils finishing the award completely.

Four days later and Bubble B set off for their final expedition, yet again with bad weather. As the majority of their training had been done in rain, this didn’t phase them at all. Both groups quickly packed their bags, marked the maps and set off just 30 minutes after arriving (record time!) Group 3 amazed us by massively picking up on their previous pace and making no navigational errors to arrive into camp for 2.00pm, a great achievement. Group 4 made a great start arriving at Dykes Lane in excellent time – after walking in a few circles they found their way onto the correct path and powered through to the campsite to arrive for 3.15pm. Once tents had been pitched and tea made, they enjoyed a rather soggy game of hide and seek before settling down for the night. The next morning the groups showed determination to finish early, both making good time for their first RV points. Both smashed the last 4km of their routes to finish the expedition in a record time of 12.35pm, 1.20pm for Group 4. A massive achievement, again all passing with flying colours.

I look forward to seeing many of our Bronze students from both bubbles progress onto their Silver award next year.

Miss Hopkins