Wendover students attend Buckingham Palace to receive Duke of Edinburgh awards

Four students were taken to the iconic setting
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Students from Wendover were taken to Buckingham Palace to celebrate receiving gold awards from the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.

Youngsters who completed the scheme under the Chiltern Way Academy visited the palace in May.

Chiltern Way Academy is a trust that supports schools in Aylesbury Vale which assist young people who have a range of additional needs across the behaviour and autism spectrum, including ADHD, autism and high anxiety.

Lukas Murrel and Matthew RushLukas Murrel and Matthew Rush
Lukas Murrel and Matthew Rush

The trust has ran DofE groups at its schools since 2018, and the scheme has gone from strength to strength in that time.

The award scheme is offered to young people to help them get the best outcome in life, and offered as part of the school curriculum. It is one of the most successful and popular subjects that the trust offers.

Last month's celebration was the first time students from the trust had attended the special event at the home of royalty.

With the complex needs of the students, Chiltern Way offer an alternative curriculum with more focus on practical skills, and DofE is an integral part of this.

Students trekking through the Peak DistrictStudents trekking through the Peak District
Students trekking through the Peak District
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While the trust teaches core subjects such as English, Maths and Science, its students also learn new skills such as barbering, construction, food tech and mechanics. With a big focus on gaining employment after they finish education, students are given the opportunity to gain qualifications and get work experience through a placement in their chosen field.

For their Volunteering section, students help with landscape gardening in the local community from churches to football pitches.

Chiltern Way states its students generally enjoy being active, and so the Physical section is fairly easy to fulfil, while their Skill section links back to the employability focus, offering activities such as food-tech and bike maintenance.

Learning mechanical skillsLearning mechanical skills
Learning mechanical skills

Several pupils have progressed to become chefs since finishing at the school, while two pupils who helped build a pump track for mountain biking through

their DofE are now working in construction. They also develop skills in business, for example by organising a pop-up café which gave them a valuable understanding of catering and generating income.

Chiltern View staff say the the biggest benefit they see from taking part in the DofE is the way the students learn to make friends and work together as a team. This is not always as easily achieved in a classroom.

DofE activities can act as a kind of therapy for students who may need a distraction from a troubling homelife.

Chiltern Way Academy DofE manager Matthew Rush said: “Schools like ours can have the perception of being a ‘naughty boys school’ but we’re trying to change that, to let people know about all of the good stuff our young people are doing.

"We want to get noticed for the right reasons. You hear so much negativity in the press towards young people – county lines, anti-social behaviour, drugs. A lot of the students who are depicted in this come to our school, but when they come to school, they’re not like that. The good things often go unnoticed because the bad stuff gets the headlines, but we’re here to prove people wrong.”