This week I had the pleasure of sending off NINE completed Bronze Award books for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. For any teenager this is an achievement, for mine who all have an identified SLD this is amazing. It’s also the first time that pupils from my school have completed the award.
We have done the Award during timetabled Enrichment time – pupils all come on school transport so after school just wasn’t going to happen.
My gang – four girls (autism, Downs, profoundly deaf, epileptic and never spent a night away from home) and five boys (autism, Downs, SLD in combination) and two teaching assistants, one of whom had also never camped before!
We learnt to play the handchimes. Pupils were not content to just play the notes when I pointed at them, they decided that they wanted to be conducting. We stuck to simple music (Twinkle Twinkle, London’s Burning, Happy Birthday) and printed out lots of individual photos. The sheet music was blown up to A3 size and a member of staff then put the photo of the right pupil under the note of the handchime that they were holding. The conductor was able to use this to tell the appropriate pupil how many notes they had to play. OK, so it took 5 minutes to play a tune, but THEY were doing it on their own.
We learnt to play ‘New Age Kurling’ and had great fun while we were at it. This included taking part in two competitions, and of course we came away with a medal! Pupils were able to set the space up to play, organise themselves into teams, take turns and encourage others to do better.
We went to our local Country Park which has a good record of working with pupils like ours and did some countryside management work. We were lucky enough to be able to leave before lunch and eat lunch while we were there so that we got more time to work. Things we did included weeding, finding and counting the swans, collecting litter and trimming back the extra growth on a large number of ornamental trees.
I applied for a variation for this part, as some of the pupils were never going to be able to meet all of the requirements. I split the group, the more able walked and the others went to places of interest in the local area. Pupils helped put up tents; set up, light and cook on Trangias and collect wood for the evening campfire. Those that were walking were able to use a book of photos taken previously along the route to find the way that they were supposed to be going. They slept independently in their tents and managed sleeping bags well (we practised this skill a lot!). On returning to school pupils recalled what they had done, chose photos and dictated captions for their presentation, which they then shared with the Head Teacher.