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Duke Of Edinburgh’s Award Achievements Celebrated

18 Feb

Over 220 pupils, parents, invited guests and staff gathered together on Thursday 17 February for the College’s annual Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Celebration Evening.

2020-21 had been a challenging year for Outdoor Education, what with the pandemic restrictions and two years of expeditions to complete. Working within the DofE temporary expedition flexibilities, by the end of the year 363 pupils, some 40% of the school population, had completed their qualifying expeditions, an incredible achievement. Completing the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a big undertaking, with the Gold Award taking at least 450 hours of commitment. Across the school, Princethorpe’s pupils had shown initiative, personal discipline, and good humour in order to get to the finish line.

Will Bower, Head of Outdoor Education, began the evening by summarising the last year, speaking about the positive impact exposure to the outdoors has on us all. He spoke about the College’s commitment to Outdoor Education and the variety of activities pupils take part in, from orienteering and climbing to the programme of walks and new initiatives such as the John Muir Award, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards scheme. He talked about the legacy of the Duke of Edinburgh and how he hoped that the Duke would have been pleased with pupils tenacity over the last challenging year.

Then the College was delighted to welcome special guest, Alan Stapleton from 10:10 Ventures, an experienced outdoor instructor to help celebrate pupils’ achievements. In a passionate speech Alan spoke of the value of outdoor education, what it has taught him and the impact it has had on his life.

The evening also offered a chance to thank all the staff and students whose commitment makes Outdoor Education here at Princethorpe such a success, including Simon Robertson, Assistant DofE Co-ordinator, and the DofE Ambassadors, Ciaran, Ben, Ishbel, Emily, Jack and Joe who have taken a leading role in promoting, guiding and mentoring DofE participants at Princethorpe. They have been fantastic in helping younger pupils to select their activities and complete their awards.

Across the evening, pupils were presented with their Bronze, Silver and Gold Award Certificates to mark the completion of their Awards.

Also in attendance on the night were Richard Lea from our expedition partners, Peak Pursuits, and David Arundal from DofE Central Office. We were delighted they were able to join us in celebrating pupils’ achievements.

Thanks also go to the wider school staff for their help and support of pupils taking the awards. Last year 48 teachers volunteered a combined 200 days on expeditions alone, not counting all the hours put in by the wider community of staff.

Head of Outdoor Education, Will Bower, commented, “The Awards celebration was a positive and fun evening and superb opportunity to get together to celebrate the achievements of our young people. I am staggered by the breadth of their endeavour to do their Awards and do them well! The DofE temporary changes allowed pupils to help out those close to them, and this was a brilliant response to the restrictions of the pandemic. Allowing new section ideas that could be completed at home, or online made an enormous difference, enabling so many to continue with their award. I hope pupils have enjoyed the challenge and that their experiences will serve as a steppingstone to future endeavours.”

There is still time for anyone who has not quite completed their award to get it finished. Pupils are encouraged to attend the Tuesday lunchtime eDofE drop-in clinics for help.