Unity College is a specialist education provision in Buckinghamshire which provides for students aged 11-16 years with social, emotional and mental health needs who can benefit from a smaller, more nurturing educational placement in order to succeed academically. Students at the college are very proud to say that they have successfully completed the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award for the first time ever this year. They overcame some real challenges to achieve this, particularly on the expedition days.
Many hours of volunteering were spent in and around school by the students to complete this section of the award. They helped to clean up, create a small garden, build furniture and helped with displays.
The students worked hard on the physical aspect of the award learning new skills in tennis, golf, football, swimming, basketball, badminton and more… Some of our students even stay after school to do extra PE now!
Our students have been developing various new skills as part of the Duke of Edinburgh. They have learned to play instruments (to a very high standard), cook some fantastic dishes of all sorts whilst learning about healthy eating and food safety. One of our students cooks once a week for the whole school. Our musicians will end the year with a school concert. An amazing achievement for them all.
This was by far the most challenging part of the Bronze award. The expedition started with some training on map reading skills. Then there was a practise expedition followed by the real thing. Both of these events tested the resilience of the students to the limit. Two lots of two days hiking and navigating over open country side in the Chiltern Hills. Up to six hours walking on each day, carrying food, cooking stoves, sleeping bags and tents! There was then a night camping out in tents. The students had to erect their own tents, cook their own hot meals and attempt to get some sleep. This was not easy on the practise as it was very cold and then raining in the early hours of the morning. The end of the second day on the practise was really tough. Everyone (including the staff supporting) was tired and very wet (lovely British weather). The following day the students were up early and in school for their route planning. There was not one complaint about being tired or not wanting to get it done. They were all so focused and positive.
The assessed expedition was the following week. The weather was kind to us which always helps. We walked through some of the most beautiful countryside and along the River Thames. There were some moments of crisis and moments of fantastic team work and togetherness. All four students stuck together, completed both days in full and crossed the finish line as one team.
Talking about the awards, Head Teacher Vicky Carrick-Lynch commented:
“This was an amazing achievement for our students. The staff supported them throughout including camping alongside the students. This has been a great example of team work all round, between the students and staff. The Cross Regional Project (1) has been a part of something special this term and our students have made us all very, very proud.”
(1)Unity College is part of the Cross Regional Project run by Keys Group in collaboration with Buckinghamshire and five other local authorities.