KINGSBURY Green Academy students who are challenging themselves in the highest category of Duke of Edinburgh Award this summer say the value of the legacy left by the Queen’s late consort is immense.
Around 100 students at Calne-based Kingsbury Green Academy, which is part of the Royal Wootton Bassett Academy Trust, take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards each year. Despite the pandemic restrictions, the thirteen Year 13 students who are taking part in the Gold Awards have already managed to complete most of the required five sections, which comprise volunteering, physical, skills, expedition and residential challenges.
This weekend <24/25 April> they are preparing to spend 36 hours in the North Wiltshire countryside practicing for their summer expedition, when they will spend four completely self-sufficient days together climbing the Brecon Beacons.
Sidney Owen, 18, who is hoping to study Sports Exercise and Science after completing his A-levels, said the DofE has enabled him to push himself further.
“I’ve really enjoyed doing each award,” said Sidney. “The walking, the social contact, is all great. It’s quite tough, but it feels good to know you can get through it. It can sound daunting – some of us from the school went out to the wilds of Norway some years ago and walked eight hours every day – but I get a lot back from it.”
Tom Farroll, 18, is hoping to take a degree apprenticeship in quantity surveying once he has completed his A-levels in maths, physics, geography and sociology.
“It was something good to do in my free time during lockdown, and I’ve found that it really stands out in interviews – people ask a lot about it if it’s on your CV, because it’s a bit unusual,” said Tom.
“But as well as hard work, it’s also great socially – we’ve had lots of fun doing it.”
Dan Hamer, 17, is studying maths, physics and geography and has aspirations to become an aerospace engineer.
“I’ve also found it a real asset to have the fact that I’m working towards the DofE Gold award on my CV,” said Dan.
“I really enjoy teamwork, and the social aspect is good too.”
Simon Parry, curriculum coordinator for geography and outdoor education at Kingsbury Green Academy, runs the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze, Silver and Gold Award schemes for around 100 students every year.
“The take up for Duke of Edinburgh awards at Kingsbury Green Academy is quite phenomenal, at around 50 per cent for Bronze in Year 10,” said Simon.
“Over 10 years around 1,000 students have been able to benefit from it. The impact on students in terms of getting them to be self-sufficient in the great outdoors, learning many brand new skills, understanding how to lead, how to work together in a team, and how to cope in situations well out of their comfort zones, is enormous. It helps them develop into strong, confident and sympathetic young people, which of course is something that employers and higher education interviewers really value.
“The country was sad to learn of the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh recently, but as anyone who has won an award will attest, it’s one of the most satisfying challenges that young people from all walks of life can tackle.”
Photo 1: From left Dan Hamer, Tom Farroll and Sidney Owen Photo 2: From left Tom Farroll, Dan Hamer and Sidney Owen