Dukes Award: Developing Skills & Recognising Achievement

This week, Junior School pupils enjoyed their first Duke Award Presentation Assembly. This year, Wellington parent, Maxine Allan, is new Duke Ambassador. Mrs Allan gave a super presentation on her mountain climb expeditions and some of the challenges she has faced in her own personal experience. Children enjoyed telling her about some of the skills they are learning as part of their participation in the Duke programme.

Chloe Lendrum in P5 was presented with her Silver Junior Duke Award – she is the first person this year to complete the programme, which is a remarkable achievement!

For more about the Mini and Junior Dukes programmes, this excerpt from the summer edition of The Turret will bring you up to speed!

‘We are frequently being told in the press that children spend excessive amounts of time ‘glued to their tablets and phones’. Fake news? Perhaps not. It has been heartening to see so many Junior School pupils take part in the Mini and Junior Duke programme (no digital devices required!). The programme is open to all pupils from Primary 2 to Primary 6 but is by no means compulsory. Instead, children opt in. The Mini Duke Silver and Mini Duke Gold are undertaken by Primary 2 and 3 respectively, meanwhile, Primary 4, 5 and 6 take the Junior Duke Bronze, Silver and Gold.

We were delighted to introduce the Mini and Junior Duke Awards because it is clear that they give children the opportunity to gain new experiences and learn important life skills. Every child who takes part is required to complete seven challenges of their choice from a selection of ten. They choose the activities themselves and complete tasks without any help. The challenges encourage independence and self-motivation, for example, in P2, a pupil may have to use a hoover or polish their shoes. They may also have to pack for a family walk; having considered appropriate clothes and footwear, they then carry their own rucksack for a couple of hours. In P5, some children learned how to sew a button on a shirt. The children who completed this activity said it was something they would never have attempted in any other circumstance, but that they could see the value in such a skill. Older children had to learn a fairytale or story which they then recounted to younger pupils. There were also first aid challenges and cookery activities – the variety of tasks meant that everyone had the chance to try something they had never tackled before. The whole family of Junior School staff were involved as Assessors or House Representatives

The cornerstone of the Mini and Junior Dukes Awards is initiative. Children were very much directing their own experience – not only did they have to choose their challenges independently, they also had to discuss their proposed methodology with their Assessor. Children had to make an appointment for their assessment and it was up to individuals to ensure the various components were completed to the high standard set by the Assessors. After the many steps involved, I am sure you will appreciate that successful completion of all the challenges was very rewarding!’