In the Senior School, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme (D of E) is introduced and offered to all pupils in S3 (Year 9). The award combines four elements: a physical activity, a skill, volunteering and a group expedition.
There is such a wide variety of options to complete the first three, this encourages each pupil to develop their own personal initiative and independence. The expedition section requires significant training and supervision, so Birkdale teachers provide this in after school sessions for all S3 boys (Y9) once a week from February half term onwards. We run a practice camp in mid-May and the Bronze Award qualifying expedition in late June, which is opted into and successfully completed by 90% or more of S3 every year. Other aspects of the award are completed over the next two years, with the support and encouragement of both staff and parents.
In S4 (Year 10), all pupils take part in a residential to the Lake District, and during this a Silver level practice expedition takes place, building on the skills already acquired during S3. Some pupils choose to complete Silver level, and this has become increasingly popular, with over 85% of S4 pupils working towards the Silver Award. The Silver DofE is run by a specialist outdoor education organisation, in conjunction with Birkdale staff. Other but pupils opt to move straight to Gold, with staff support for either preference.