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On Friday, Rachel Diss Beaumont College Occupational Therapist was asked to speak at the Duke of Edinburgh Conference at the Anderton Centre in Chorley, Rachel was asked by the organisers to present on the implementation of it in Beaumont.

The feedback was very positive and attendees were particularly impressed at the lengths she had gone to make the expedition accessible to all including using hoists in tents!

Beaumont College’s enrolment onto the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme

Beaumont College is a Further Education Special Needs College in Lancashire for young adults transitioning from school up to 25 years old. We have residential and day attending students who follow a wide range of curriculum sessions from Sensory activity to Performance and Outdoor Education. It is close to the beautiful Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales where many opportunities are taken to explore and experience these for learning.

Beaumont College signed up to deliver the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at the start of 2018. Many staff and students were excited about the set-up of this Award activity within college and the opportunities it has provided. Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is widely recognised by employers and the public as setting a high standard of achievement for all young people to participate in team working and new activities.

The Bronze and Silver levels of the award are based around 4 activity sections; Volunteering, Skill, Physical and Expedition. A participant must choose their activity in each of the first 3 sections from a wider range of options and participate in this over a set amount of weeks. Bronze sections are between 12 and 24 weeks. The fourth section is Expedition which involves group planning and training, resulting in travelling a route over 2 days and staying out as a team overnight.

Beaumont College became a Licensed Organisation of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award on 8th January 2018.

Because of the training required for the Expedition Section and the interest of the staff involved it was agreed that this first year it would work best to link the project onto the Adventure Film Making Sessions run by David Liley. This gave the participants the opportunity to build up experience and skills over a long period and so ready to carry out their Practise and Qualifying Expeditions in the Summer Term. Some of our students David and Natasha already had their Bronze Award, achieved whilst at school. This was a positive realisation but also placed a new outlook on the small Bronze Pilot group we had originally planned. This lifted our sights to include a provision for Silver level.

Our Bronze Group was formed of 4 students who had never done Duke of Edinburgh Award activities before and one who had completed 3 sections at school but not completed their Expedition.  Jonathon, Sarah, Jadhaan, Callum, and Fae. We had three students who used wheelchairs for their mobility and students who found change to their routine difficult. This project challenged all of our experiences and abilities.

The students’ leadership skills and personal development expanded in so many ways.

Beaumont College became a Licensed Organisation of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award on 8th January 2018. Students were supported to select their choice of activities. Some they were already taking part in, e.g. gym attendance and radio DJ-ing and some they took up as part of the award. Recording of the activities was going to be challenging as everyone had completely different activities and so many different people were being asked to assess their achievements. We arranged regular DofE days with students on which planning and admin could be carried out in order to keep a check on progress and recording.

The planning and the training for the Expedition took on a great part of this project. Rachel Diss, also our Mountain Leader linked with the group to support planning and problem solving to enable the expeditions to be carried out. The students’ leadership skills and personal development expanded in so many ways. It was a delightful and humbling experience to watch them achieve through their own learning and ideas. They became protective of each other and supportive of each other’s needs. They became braver and more accepting to challenge. There was definitely a build-up of anxiety over the months prior to expedition in both the students group and the support staff around how were we going to do this. But as the training sessions passed and the information sheets and risk assessment were talked through the picture of how it was going to work started to form more thoroughly in people’s minds. The questions came out and the answers were found.