More than 200 students have completed outdoor sections of their Duke of Edinburgh Award challenges at Harrogate Grammar School this month – a welcome sign of their lives getting back to normal.
Stormy weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the Year 11 and Year 10 students as they were finally allowed to share the fun of group adventure with their friends, as well as paying fitting tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, as lockdown restrictions eased.
Eighty Year 11 students spent May Day Bank Holiday weekend completing the practice DofE Bronze Award expedition which was called off when lockdown was imposed last year. They then went straight on to the two-day expedition – the final challenge of the award which tests young people’s problem solving, life skills, resilience and more.
The next weekend an unprecedented 144 Year 10 students completed training expedition walks aimed at developing their teamwork, communication and camping abilities ahead of their qualifying DofE Bronze Award expedition in June.
Neil Renton, Headteacher at Harrogate Grammar School, said:
It’s wonderful to see our students getting back to normal school life, including the DofE challenge. Learning is not just about being in the classroom, the skills they develop through our wide range of extra-curricular activities will serve them well for life.
Teachers Jake Kempton and Laura Chesworth, who organised the expeditions, said the students were delighted to be back outdoors, enjoying testing themselves alongside their friends.
Mr Kempton said:
Seeing the looks on students faces and receiving feedback from parents shows the scheme has had such a positive impact. It would have been easy to cancel the expeditions again this year but after the challenging 12 months these young people have had we thought it was massively important to go ahead.
Mrs Chesworth said it was crucial that the Year 11 students completed the outdoor expedition as they had spent the last two years completing the award’s other qualifying sections, which involve physical challenges, learning new skills and volunteering.
Mrs Chesworth said:
They’ve shown resilience, flexibility and worked hard to adapt their challenges to still meet the criteria during lockdown.
We wanted to do them justice by seeing them complete the award as a whole.
Mr Kempton added:
We were particularly proud to deliver the expeditions this year as it felt like a fitting tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh. As teachers we take great joy in being out there with the students as part of an experience that creates lifelong memories.
In order to satisfy the unprecedented demand for DofE expedition places, extra staff volunteered to help supervise, and outdoor adventure organisers the Lupine Adventure Cooperative provided enough trained and qualified DofE expedition leaders to allow everyone to take part.
In addition to DofE is it wonderful to see other school trips and expeditions are now being planned as Harrogate Grammar School eases back towards normal teaching life packed with extra-curricular activities that make it such a special place to learn. Year 11 and Year 13 are both having a well-deserved day of fun at Flamingo Land next week. Year 12s studying a BTEC in Outdoor Education have already resumed their practical studies and are taking part in their own expedition in Swaledale and Wensleydale, Year 7 are looking forward to the Humanities visit to Bolton Abbey, Geography fieldwork trips are in the pipeline, plans are being made for a Year 9 residential trip to the Lake District next spring and finally PE fixtures have resumed for the Summer term.