Teenagers cooking dinners for their family, others helping out in their garden, and some working out with Joe Wicks - these were just some of the innovative steps Springwood students took to ensure they completed their next stage of their Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
The scheme is designed to test and challenge young people in a normal year, but this year’s pandemic had taken the difficulty to a whole new level and there was plenty of ingenuity involved. But this week Springwood - part of the West Norfolk Academies Trust - celebrated the achievements of its latest group to receive their awards with a certificate presentation ceremony.
Seventeen students received their Bronze Achievement Awards, three Silver Achievement Awards and a group of 27 is currently working on the Gold Award which they hope to complete in March.
This year has also seen Springwood's entire Year 9 cohort of 200 being registered to take part in the scheme’s bronze standard. They will all be learning first aid each week as part of their skill set for the award.
It is hoped the students working on the gold level will be able to take part in expeditions away from home - an element which had to be cancelled for this year.
Each student on the award scheme has to complete a physical challenge, volunteering and a skill section and at least an hour a week must be dedicated to one skill for a minimum of three months.
“Although the first lockdown caused a lot of difficulties, students at Springwood managed to keep up with their activities for the award," said Pauline Petch, teacher and Duke of Edinburgh Manager at the West Norfolk Academies Trust.
"They took on the challenge and came up with innovative ideas to ensure they could get their Limited Edition Achievement Certificate. It was great to see the dedication and work these students were prepared to do."
She continued: “Students were allowed to change activity and do their sections at home so we had lots of innovative ideas, from cycling routes locally and Joe Wicks workouts for physical, cooking a meal for the family once a week or learning a new subject online. They could even help out with an hour of gardening."
Finley Meehan (14) said being part of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards had given him motivation and helped him make new discoveries and experiences.
He has been learning to play the double bass, helping to run a children’s music workshop and keeping fit with swimming and workouts as part of his award.
“I found the volunteering section very rewarding as it was something I hadn’t done before and I could experience both the fun of it and the satisfaction of helping others to learn about something that I am passionate about,” he said.
“Over lockdown things were obviously very different and I couldn’t complete my DofE in the same way. But, if anything, this situation made doing the activities even more rewarding as I not only had to get past the challenges of the activities themselves, but also the challenges of adapting them to fit the situation.
"It was great to keep in contact with my friends who were also doing DofE to discuss our ideas and keep our morale high. I’m also really looking forward to being able to complete the expedition when that is allowed,” added Finley who is also hoping to take part in the Silver Award.
The awards programme changed criteria to help students complete their awards during this year, when all expeditions were cancelled. A new achievement certificate was prepared to take into account those students who had started a particular skill or voluntary work but could not complete it because of coronavirus.
Special concessions to allow students to continue their work at home will be continued until July 2021.
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