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Sixth form take on the Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award challenge

Going for gold; pupils at Rendcomb College have a royal appointment

What have singing, decoupage and survival skills in the wilds of the Brecon Beacons got in common?

They are just some of the activities carried out by a group of intrepid Rendcomb College students, to book their place at a Royal awards ceremony at St James’ Palace, London.

These hard-working sixth formers are in the final stages of completing the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. It has involved completing five gruelling stages, that have proved beneficial to many of the other pupils at the LOCATION private(?) school too.

The Duke of Edinburgh scheme attracts thousands of UK participants, aged 14 to 24, though only the most dedicated progress to the Gold level. It involves a substantial commitment of time and energy, to fulfil requirements across Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition. To achieve Gold, there is also a Residential element.

So, what did Rendcomb College’s sixth form students do, to go for Gold?

Volunteering – fun for many pupils

The award requires that young people volunteer for at least one hour a week, for 12 months (18 months if they’ve skipped the Silver level).

The Rendcomb College team’s volunteering activities included a decoupage arts and craft club (for years 7-9) run by Anna and Ella. This club even found ways to be “crafty” about recycling, making bunting out of unwanted cardboard, and producing revision folders and book holders out of recycled cereal packets!

Meanwhile, Daisy and Emily volunteered in the Junior School, with a popular ‘knit and stitch’ club for year 3-6 children; making cushions, pillowcases and quilt covers.

Physical and skill learning exploits

Fortunately, Rendcomb College was able to help the sixth form students to reach their Physical DoE milestones within our comprehensive sports programme.

For their Skills target, most students chose to do singing lessons, though Anna learned dancing instead.

Interestingly, the First Aid skills training part of the Award scheme proved valuable when one participant on an expedition suffered from badly blistered feet!

Expeditions and survival

The Gold Duke of Edinburgh participants were put to the test on two practice weekends (Dartmoor and Exmoor) and one assessed expedition to the Brecon Beacons. This involved camping out for four nights, but also carrying all their equipment and food on seven-hour walks of at least 18km each day. They also faced challenges including orienteering and navigation.

Our students had to work as a team and stay properly “fuelled” for their walking and wild camping, which for Anna meant a 1,000-calorie breakfast on one of the days! 

The final stage

The last step before they receive their Gold Awards is a five-day stay away from home for more personal development. For Anna, this involves staying with a family in Madrid to improve her Spanish, and for Emily a residential course to become a Stage 1 Swimming Teacher.

Another example is Ella’s participation in the “English Literature House Party” school trip, which aims to give our students access to exciting literary locations.

Benefits of the Duke of Edinburgh Award

Involvement in the Gold Award is no “picnic” and can in fact become quite painful at times!

However, the successful students at Rendcomb College all agree that the adventures and fun they’ve had more than compensate for the tough times.

They are also about to book their date with royalty and have a superb addition to their CVs and applications to university (the award provides additional UCAS points).

Well done, and let’s see how many more students follow in their footsteps next year!