Friday Headlines

the weekly newsletter from Dr Ruth Weeks, Headmistress

Year 9 conquer the great outdoors

07 July 2017

A group of Year 9 students spent last weekend in The Peak District. As part of their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award the 47 girls planned a two day, self-sufficient expedition covering a trail of 25KM and camping overnight.

On the first day, five groups set off at intervals from the village of Tissington and two from Parwich on their 13km routes across the beautiful Derbyshire countryside. Each group orienteered towards Barracks Farm near Hartington, the plan being for everyone to arrive approximately four hours later and set up camp. Along their routes, the trekkers logged their arrival at a number of checkpoints which were monitored throughout the day by Ms López, D of E Bronze Award Leader, and two independent assessors. Final arrival times spanned over a four hour period. One group made exceptional progress and another bore the brunt of a wrong turning, just an hour away from base.

To pass the expedition the girls had to meet 20 separate criteria, including ‘cooking a hot substantial meal’ each day; our pupils’ interpretation of ‘cooking, hot and substantial’ varied, but everyone ate well and re-fuelled for the 12km hike which awaited them in the morning. A group meeting was held before bed, giving the girls feedback on their performances. The focus of the Bronze Award is very much on teaching and providing the girls with skills that they can use to improve, with a view to progressing through the scheme to their Silver and ultimately their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

Following some light drizzle overnight, a second dry day greeted the groups on Sunday with the morning mist burning off and giving way to glorious sunshine. There had been much reflection overnight and the girls approached day two with an increased resilience and sense of purpose. Making use of what they had learnt from the day before, and having noticeably more confidence in their map reading and orienteering skills, all of the groups reached the final meeting point at their approximate estimated arrival times. Each girl made the final long climb up the hill into the village of Thorpe and crested over the brow tired, happy and triumphant.

All of the groups passed their expedition. One of the assessors wrote to Ms López to say, "Can I again take this opportunity to congratulate your students on a fantastic assessment, it was a pleasure working with yourself, your staff and your students.” On the journey home, many of the girls talked about already having their Silver Awards in their sights.

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