The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at Pangbourne has grown from strength to strength since its introduction to the College in 2004.
From the first cohort of 75 pupils to take on the Award, six (8%) achieved the Gold Award, while 33% from a much larger DofE group now achieve the honour.
The programme begins with students in Form 3 working towards the Bronze Award. The DofE programme runs all-year-round with Bronze Award students meeting on Tuesday afternoons to take on a variety of activities designed towards them achieving completion of the required Volunteering, Skills and Assessed Expedition sections.
Students in Form 3 have to set a target for the Skill section of the Bronze Award and quite often this ties in with the new skills learnt through taking part in school parades. All students in Form 3 are taught to participate in Ceremonial Drill which is considered by the DofE a performance art skill. This is reinforced in monthly College Sunday parades. As such, the Skill section of the Bronze Award can be achieved by the end of the first term but it is by no means mandatory to choose Ceremonial Drill and any other skills, from learning a musical instrument to learning a new sport, can be chosen.
Activities which Form 3 students have done to complete the Volunteering in the past have included digging a ha-ha around the cricket pitch, building a woodland fence, arranging woodchip for ropes courses, arranging the footpath leading to the College shop and clearing the brambles to help in the bluebell woods.
The entire Form 3 group goes to Llangorse in Wales in the last week before the May half-term where they undertake climbing, indoor ropes courses, outdoor ropes courses, a dingle scramble, team-building activities and a two-day practice expedition.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme in Form 3 culminates with the Assessed Expedition section where the students go away for two days and one night in the local area.
The Bronze Award programme continues in Form 4 with the Physical Recreation section which involves the student setting goals and targets, outside of lesson time, with a relevant assessor (ie. Member of staff who teaches the sport the student is being assessed in) to reach before the end of the year.
Form 5 students looking to achieve their Silver Awards can join the DofE section of the CCF for expedition training on Thursday afternoons and participate in a Field Day in November where they go on a walk with day packs on in preparation for their practice expedition in March.
The second Field Day in March involves students wearing full packs on a day walk to further prepare for their assessed expeditions.
At the end of the Lent term, Pangbourne takes Silver Award students to the Black Mountains in Llangorse to undertake a three-day expedition. The Silver Award Assessed Expedition takes place in the Summer term with students going to the New Forest for three days and two nights.
In the Sixth Form, for those students participating in the Gold Award, the onus is on them to organise their DofE schedule to fit in around their A Level lessons. Gold Award students embark on a four-day practice expedition in the Brecon Beacons at the end of the Lent term and their Assessed Expedition involves going away for six days, usually to the Lake District; although in 2014, the group went to the Falkland Islands to complete the assessed expedition and became the first team from Pangbourne to undertake a Gold Award in the British overseas territory.
Students undertaking the Gold Award also have to complete a Residential section where they have to work with people they haven’t met before to achieve a common aim.
Pangbourne’s 230 acres of Berkshire countryside offers ample space for the students to carry out their outdoor DofE training and the support from staff members in ensuring the programme runs smoothly is vital to its success at the College.
It is possible for students to have completed their Gold Award in time for filling out their UCAS form at the beginning of their Upper Sixth year but the support is there from staff to help pupils at all different stages of the process and those who don’t complete the programme in their time at Pangbourne are able to finish the Award in their later years (up until the age of 25).
The Volunteering section teaches students to give their time for the benefit of others, the Skills section encourages pupils to learn something new, the Physical Recreation section gets students to remain physically fit, the Assessed Expedition section aids students’ researching, planning and preparation skills, while the Residential section teaches pupils the importance of working with a variety of different people.
Mr Andy Crossley
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Coordinator