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Claremont High School Academy

A Challenge and a Blast

Ms Carswell and Year 11 student Ambika Sharma reflect on Claremont High School’s recent DofE expedition.

From 13th to 15th September, forty-five Year 11 students from Claremont High School, all currently enrolled on the Silver
Level of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards, took part in a ‘qualifying expedition’ in Epping Forest. An assessor is present
throughout this activity to ensure that each group and individual meets all of the requirements for the expedition as set by
the DofE. Ms Carswell, Claremont’s DofE Coordinator, said the students worked hard, gaining new experiences: ‘They’re
developing key life skills that will greatly benefit them growing up and long into their adult lives.’

You have to be mentally as well as physically strong to succeed. ‘DofE isn't meant to be easy,’ explains Year 11 student, Ambika Sharma, ‘it's meant to be a challenge. On the first day of the expedition, I had a couple of overwhelming experiences. Our group definitely needed to communicate more! I was the captain, so I felt l had to take control and do everything myself. Luckily, after a talk with one of the assessors, I relaxed and delegated the different tasks within our group. By the end of day three, the communication, teamwork and understanding between us had improved immensely.’

In addition to training for the qualifying expedition, plus a practice expedition back in May, Claremont’s DofE Silver participants have recently been busy developing new skills, such as learning to play a musical instrument, playing chess and doing photography. Now that the students have all passed the expedition section, in order to achieve their full Silver DofE Award they need to complete three other sections: volunteering (one hour per week over a three to twelve-month period), physical and skills development.

Despite the many challenges, the students ultimately found the experience incredibly rewarding. ‘Overall, DofE was a blast!’ says Ambika. ‘I would definitely repeat it all over again if I got the opportunity.’

Ms Carswell was certainly pleased, praising her ‘terrific bunch’ of students: ‘It was such a pleasure to witness the progress and attainment of Year 11 on their recent qualifying expedition. Some already had a number of the abilities and attributes they needed, but most had to work hard and persevere well beyond their usual comfort zone to develop all of the skills in order to pass the expedition. All should be very proud of what they have achieved. Well done!’