Thursday, 23 September 2021

Activities award schemes for teenagers saved

TWO Duke of Edinburgh’s Award schemes for teenagers have been saved.

TWO Duke of Edinburgh’s Award schemes for teenagers have been saved.

They were under threat of closure after Oxfordshire County Council decided to stop paying for the licence from March next year.

This would have meant the scheme could no longer be offered at the Eyot Centre in Wargrave Road, Henley, and Chiltern Edge School in Sonning Common.

Now the Oxfordshire Open Expedition Group, a not-for-profit organisation and licensed provider for the award, will take over the licence.

However, the two schemes will effectively be combined and only offered by the Eyot Centre, although some of the activities could continue at the school.



Kevin Nutt, who co-ordinates both schemes, said: “The school won’t be doing it but the majority of the children will join the Henley group, so they have been given a lifeline.

“I’m pleased because it’s for the children who would otherwise be missing out.

“With all the cuts that are going on in youth services and moaning that there is nothing for children to do, if we lost the scheme it would be cutting off that lifeline.”

He said the Eyot Centre had planned to pay the £1,200 cost of becoming a separate licence holder until Oxped stepped in and Chiltern Edge would have had to obtain its own licence if it was going to continue to offer the scheme.

Currently, the Eyot Centre has 15 teenagers doing their bronze award, 10 the silver award and 12 the gold award.

They learn new skills, doing sports, undertaking voluntary work in the community and completing a walking, canoeing or cycling expedition.

Mr Nutt, a former head of PE at Chiltern Edge, said he expected the number of children on the scheme at the Eyot Centre to double from March. He is part of a five-strong voluntary coaching team and said he hoped the volunteers from Chiltern Edge would also switch to the Eyot Centre.

Mr Nutt said: “We try to encourage parents to come along and help as it’s their child’s award and without their support the scheme could not run.

“If a child is with us to get their gold award then their parent would be with us for quite a few years helping out.” He said children from places such as Wargrave and Remenham in Berkshire would be eligible to join the Eyot Centre scheme even though it was being backed by an Oxfordshire organisation.

Daniel Sadler, headteacher at Chiltern Edge, said some of the activities could still take place at the school.

He said: “We were very disappointed when the county council withdrew support for the scheme.

“We’re delighted that Kevin Nutt, who is a very experienced Duke of Edinburgh’s Award facilitator, can continue to work with our students and we’re pleased it will be able to carry on in partnership with the Eyot Centre.

“We will still be able to do lots of the activities at the school but the administration of it and the core activities will be run at the centre.

“We hope it is not going to mean a big difference to the students.”

The council said its decision to stop funding Duke of Edinburgh’s Award schemes in the county reflected a national trend for providers to hold licences themselves.

• An enrolment evening for the Eyot Centre scheme will take place on Thursday, starting at 7pm for the bronze award and 8pm for the silver award. Anyone wishing to start their gold award at the centre should send an email to tom.dofe@gmail.com



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