I’m so glad you have found my Junior Duke Award as it’s great fun and a good addition to everything schools already offer. It is aimed at increasing children’s independence, confidence and resilience whilst giving them a good feeling of achievement on completion. I am a primary teacher with twenty-seven years experience and have made up this Award over time, adding challenges for many things I felt the children in my care were lacking in their lives.
Usually, it is an Award that children sign up for in September, receive their booklets in early October, then have until the end of the summer term to work their way through it. For each year, there is a booklet with ten challenges from which just seven need to be completed in order that the child finishes that level. Some of our pupils work their way through it at break-neck speed and finish their seven challenges in a matter of weeks. Others take the full year and a bit of prodding!
There are seventy, age-appropriate challenges in total from Reception to Year 6. These involve a whole array of life skills. These challenges are split into seven progressive booklets (one for each school year) and, as we all know that the curriculum is fit to burst, it is intended that children complete the tasks at home with the help of parents and family. However, there are a few schools who are running the Award as a ‘club’ or a year group activity afternoon-type-of-thing. We find that the parents’ comments are very positive and nearly all mention how much they have enjoyed seeing their children learn and manage new skills. Once a challenge has been completed, many of them require a teacher to assess them – this is a quick read of his or her self-reflection, a look at the photos and maybe a taste of the food he or she has created.
The challenges range from First Aid, eco, exercise, domestic challenges, budgeting for packed lunches, fixing a puncture, building a fire, baking, cooking, washing sheets, making PowerPoints and public speaking, knitting, litter-picking….all manner of things!
To take part, schools all hold an assembly in early September then give out forms to interested children. It costs £10 per child for their booklet, certificate and badge for the year. Most schools request payment from each family taking part whilst some have used PTA fundraising, PEF funding, or they use their budget. One even applied for a grant so that has paid for her children to take part.
The next step is to send you a Trademark form to sign. This seems very official but is costs nothing and ties you into nothing and is a formality every participating school needs to do. On receiving your form, I will send you the top-secret password so that you can have access to all of the resources you will need to run the Award in your school. This will mean that you don’t need to waste time on admin. In this password-protected area of the website, you will find things like:
- ‘how to…’ videos to inform the staff,
- assembly plan and video,
- spreadsheets for you to just add names,
- PowerPoint to inform staff,
- letters for your children’s parents to sign etc.
The deadline for orders is always near the start of the school year to allow time for printing and postage and for children to have as much time as possible in the year to complete their challenges. Once you give me your order, I send out a box with the booklets, certificates and badges and you and your staff run the Award in a way that is appropriate to your pupils. Getting access to the resources now will mean that you will have plenty of time to get ready to start next session.