The Long Eaton School reports great take-up of Duke of Edinburgh award in its first year

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The 1200-pupil Long Eaton School has reported an amazing take-up of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme which has been offered to its students this year for the first time ever.

The challenging scheme, which gives students the chance to camp out overnight while on a countryside expedition, as well as volunteer in their community and take part in a sport over a period of months, was offered to students at the Thoresby Road school for the first time.

A cohort of 45 students took the school up on the offer and are all set to achieve their Bronze award.

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Teachers at the school said it had been a great experience for pupils – many of whom had rarely even left Long Eaton before taking part in a two-day expedition in the Peak District, with staff volunteering their time to accompany them.

Pupils at Long Eaton School who took part in D of EPupils at Long Eaton School who took part in D of E
Pupils at Long Eaton School who took part in D of E

Maths teacher Liz Coggle, who was one of the staff members who went with students on their expedition, said: “There were some students who had never walked before, never camped before, never cooked before, and some who have never really left this local area.

“We really saw their confidence growing. They developed resilience and they have taken on things they have never done before.”

The Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme was launched in 1956 and gives young people aged 14 to 24 the chance to experience a range of activities at the heart of which is an expedition, with young participants having to carry their tent and cooking equipment over the course of the trip and camp out overnight.

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Leaders at The Long Eaton School said they had been wanting to launch the scheme for a while but this was the first year they had been able to offer it, which they did with the benefit of some funding to help pay for equipment, to help reduce costs for families.

The school also put in place other measures such as offering its minibus to transport students to the expedition site in the Peak District, to save parents on the fuel costs of getting there themselves.

Phil McNeill, Duke of Edinburgh manager for Archway Learning Trust – of which The Long Eaton School is part – said: “With Duke of Edinburgh, you see a different side of students to what you see in the classroom. Some students who go on a trip are very quiet but when they are out of school they come out of their shell a lot more.”

The school had hoped to see around 20 students taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh, but were wowed when more than double those numbers enthusiastically signed up.

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“It was challenging, but fun!” said Sofia, 14, while her friend Lauren added: “I’ve never done something like that before and I didn’t know what to expect. I found it a great experience and I’m really glad I did it. It taught me perseverance and teamwork.”

Year nine pupil Olli said he had enjoyed his volunteering work during the challenge. “I worked behind the till at a charity shop – I liked talking to people!” he said.

Next year even more Long Eaton School pupils are expected to take part as the next levels of the scheme, silver and gold, are introduced.

It is thought that this is the first time that the Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme has been offered at The Long Eaton School.

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Academy manager Debra Willey, who was a pupil at the school herself in the 1990s, said: “Duke of Edinburgh wasn’t available to us when I was at the school and as far as I’m aware it has not been offered before. I think it’s a great opportunity for our students and I was so delighted to see so many of them taking up the scheme and overcoming challenges and barriers to achieve their awards.”

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