Monday, 4 December 2023
Monday, 4 December 2023

Specialist autism school introduces Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme

PORTFIELD School in Christchurch, which provides education for up to 100 autistic children and young people, is to offer the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) award for the first time from September 2021.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.

Portfield School in Parley is owned and operated by the charity Autism Wessex and provides specialist teaching and care for students aged 4 to 19 who hold an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis (ASD).

Head Teacher Jemma Dudgeon said:

“We are extremely excited to offer the DofE scheme to our older students from next term.

“At Portfield School, we aim to ensure all our students enjoy the same exciting learning opportunities as all young people. DofE will enrich their life skills and future job prospects as they pass through this school and on to our further education.”

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme was founded in 1956 by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and sees participants achieve objectives in volunteering, physical challenges, skills and through an expedition.

If successfully completed, the programme leads to a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Jemma Dudgeon continued:

“Portfield School is a huge advocate of outside learning, and our Forest School already equips our young people with skills such as tent building, fire building and outdoor cooking.

“The Duke of Edinburgh’s scheme fits perfectly with our ethos, and we are looking forward to providing our young people with all the support they need to enjoy some truly memorable experiences.”

Portfield School will be starting the Bronze DofE scheme with a small group of its Sixth Form students, led by Forest School Leader Damian Brown.

Specialist autism school introduces Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme

Damian said:

“We are excited to get started and have already done some hikes in Corfe Mullen and Ferndown. Our most challenging one to date has been between Buckler’s Hard and Beaulieu.

“We have built shelters and a bridge, and although our students have varying abilities and different needs, they have had fun and are already developing problem-solving skills which will help their progress through the scheme.”


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