Shropshire students beat global pandemic challenges to achieve Duke of Edinburgh awards

A group of students at a Shropshire college had to overcome the challenges of a global pandemic to achieve their Duke of Edinburgh awards.

Concord College students overcoming challenges of Covid-19 to complete their Duke of Edinburgh expeditions
Concord College students overcoming challenges of Covid-19 to complete their Duke of Edinburgh expeditions

The 19 Concord College students completed the award, with 16 gaining silver and three bronze, as they made various adaptations to their expeditions to comply with Covid-19 safety and government guidelines.

In addition to these 19 students, a further nine students at the Acton Burnell-based college are awaiting a safe time to do their final expedition in order to complete their awards.

Concord’s head of outdoor education, Ruth Newton-Badman said: “The group has been particularly impressive.

“In the absence of expeditions, DoE introduced certificates of achievement to recognise students who completed their volunteering, skill and physical sessions.

“DoE allowed students to change their chosen activities to better suit their situation.

“At Concord, we encouraged boarding students in particular to choose new opportunities on campus, including support in preparing and delivering an event to raise awareness and funds for their chosen charities and a new nature and wildlife conservation club for form three.

“There has also been some great volunteering with day and overseas students back in their communities supporting elderly neighbours with their shopping and more.

“Expedition guidelines included restricting groups to a maximum of five students with a supporting staff member, and Concord’s SMT were able to approve ‘camping’ elements of trips to take part on the college’s Hall Meadow.”

Students were transported to and from college each day and night to set up camp, cooking their meals on Trangia stoves positioned at safe social distancing.

Single occupancy tents were used and with separate portable facilities and year group bubbles.

Mrs Newton-Badman said: “The camps ran extremely smoothly.”

Speaking of the difficulties of DoE, silver award participant Wing Hin Lau, 17, who is in Concord’s sixth form, said: “When remote learning was introduced last March, I was unable to attend my violin lessons and work on my goals as normal for DoE.

“Fortunately, my violin teacher and I have kept contact with each other through Outlook.

“One of the main challenges I encountered was keeping the motivation high to practice at home without regular lessons, while continuously improving and monitoring my right-hand bowing posture, as stated as one of my initial goals.

“I think DoE has provided me with the skills to persevere and to be more self-reflective.

“Whilst we returned to campus later in the year and government and DoE introduced new rules affecting our practical expeditions, we still had to do our normal routines such as map reading and walking, packing up and setting up the tents, cooking dinner every day and sleeping overnight in our tents.”

Since March last year, a further 66 students have started the DoE awards.

Mrs Newton-Badman added: “A huge well done again to all students involved in the DoE awards.

“As well as the recognition of the awards, I think that those students involved in volunteering, skills, walks and expeditions have found the change of scenery a refreshing experience.

“This has both lightened their mind set and eased some of the stress they are undoubtably feeling from global circumstances.

“For now, we are awaiting later guidance to see whether any of the planned 2021 expeditions will be able to take place in the summer term.”

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