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Duke of Edinburgh at SRWA

The Duke of Edinburgh Award was launched two years ago at SRWA and it has grown in leaps and bounds ever since, with nearly 30 students successfully completing the most gruelling element of the course – the assessed expedition.

Students have to complete four elements to the course in order to achieve their award:, volunteering, skill, physical and an expedition. It has been amazing to watch young people develop into rounded individuals by completing most of these in their own time.

Jay, for example, volunteered at Lancing library to improve his social and organisation skills. Josh volunteered at a care home, and made a real difference to the people there. The skills have ranged from photography, to chess, to musical instruments. The physical dimensions have ranged from karate, to ballet with Sophie choosing rugby.

The most exciting bit for most, however, is the expedition. The practice section takes place in Arundel, at Gumber Bothy. This is a secluded spot, near and old WW2 bunker. It was also used as a hunting playground for William the Conqueror 1000 years ago, and an old Roman stomping ground even further back. We managed to see the old Roman villa that was unearthed a 100 years ago. Today it is an area of outstanding beauty, with rolling landscapes and secluded woods.

For two days students have to fend largely for themselves, with a nice bonfire and marshmallows in the evening as a reward. There is a badger track nearby, and hundreds of deer roaming around. We also saw numerous birds of prey. Every student was amazing, and showed real grit and determination even when the weather was difficult.

The assessed expedition takes place at Truleigh hill, atop an old cold war era nuclear bunker. The hills are steep and intense, but the students dealt with them in spectacular fashion, with only one person falling over – no names mentioned…. The young intrepid explores gave themselves a well deserved rest at Mile Oak Barn, with AJ having his lunch stolen by an impressively bold chicken! There, they made friends with a friendly old donkey.

Seeing young people out of the house, working well as a team, and engaging with nature in a confident way is one of my highlights as a teacher. One of my lowlights was seeing some of the cooking – Josh destroyed some perfectly good food by heating it up to the temperature of the sun. The amount of pasta consumed was deeply impressive, if slightly tasteless.

Silver launches this year to those who successfully completed Bronze, with one of the expeditions taking place in the South West, where we can hopefully squeeze in some surfing on a rest day in the May half term.

Keep going team! Excellent work so far!

Mr Andain

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