16 Dec Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is Back at Woodstock
The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is set to Woodstock in 2022. The Award is a non-formal education and learning framework operating in more than 130 countries and territories around the world, through which young people’s achievements outside of academia are recognised and celebrated. English teacher Mr Curt Farnham (pictured above in the Quad, and below with former students on a Gold Award cycling expedition in Taiwan), has been instrumental in re-introducing the awards to Woodstock, which will return next year after a brief hiatus since 2018. Prior to joining Woodstock this year, Mr Farnham was the award coordinator at his previous international school in Shanghai for eight years, and is an Award trainer for other educators. We speak to Mr Farnham to find out more about the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, and his ambitions as he takes on the role of award coordinator at Woodstock.
How do you think the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award programme is going to help our student community?
The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, known in India as the International Award for Young People, is an ideal fit for Woodstock and for an IB school. It will give the students at Woodstock a structured way to engage in all that Woodstock has to offer. It is founded on the philosophy that young people are innately good, and that the goal of education is to unlock a young person’s potential. It is a wonderful way that students can grow as individuals, and grow together as members of a caring community.
Woodstock already has amazing outdoors pursuits, community engagement, and CAS initiatives. How do you see the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award complementing these existing aspects of life at Woodstock?
The Award will help to reenforce these things at Woodstock. All of these programs work together to create a level of overlap in the system. All of these projects have the goal of producing good people that are engaged with their community and the wider world. To take the example of CAS; CAS in the Diploma Programme and the Award are very similar. The three aspects of CAS, creativity, activity and service are mirrored in the Award’s service, physical activity and skills. This is by design, by doing the Award a student is meeting their CAS requirements. An advantage with the Award is that students can start at the bronze level at the age of 14. Because of the Award, many of the students at my pervious school were already meeting their CAS requirements on their first day in the Diploma Programme.
What have been the most interesting and exciting activities you have been involved in as a Duke of Edinburgh’s Coordinator in Shanghai?
That had to be when Prince Edward came to the school to present the Award to our first five Gold Award recipients. We were very lucky to have HRH visit our campus, and I was incredibly proud of the five young people who received their Awards that day. Each of them had created wonderful projects that gave back to the community. They had pushed themselves to more skilled in their personal passions; a better singer, a better piano player, a better journalist, a better athlete. They had pushed themselves to be better and to give back more.
What is the most powerful impact you have witnessed the Duke of Edinburgh’s having on one of your students?
Two students set up a Sunday football game and training for migrant children. It was for the children of villagers from all over China that came to Shanghai for work. These are kids that do not have access to social services in cities because their parents’ Hukou, the Chinese internal passport, was a rural one. The students that started these programs are now university graduates, but the programs have become a school tradition and carry on. It was really touching when one of the founding students was told that a program he and his friend had started was still making a difference for migrant kids.
What is going to be your focus as the coordinator of this programme at Woodstock?
My biggest focus will be to set up a program that lasts. I want the award to become a part of what Woodstock is as a school. My goal is to make the Award an integral part of this school and to use the Award to link Woodstock with other Award schools.