A pathway to life ahead

Posted on 19th Oct 2023 in School News, Which London School?

Davenies School explains how their award scheme helps to enrich the learning of their pupils.

As a preparatory school for boys aged 4-13, the Davenies Award Scheme (DAS) is a hugely important part of our Senior School enrichment programme. In Years 7 and 8 – the senior years at Davenies – boys take part in a range of activities, projects and experiences designed to enhance their all-round education, to strengthen their understanding of fundamental transferable skills, and teach them essential life skills. The aim is to ensure that every Davenies boy leaves us at the end of Year 8 well prepared for their life ahead; DAS sessions enable us, as a school, to provide a pathway to this, furnished with events to continue to Engage, Inspire and Challenge beyond the weekly timetable. 

DAS started at Davenies as a way of teaching the things outside of the syllabi that we wanted our boys to know, all in line with our school aim to Engage, Inspire and Challenge. All boys in Years 7 and 8 have weekly DAS sessions after school, which provide the bulk of the DAS programme. These Monday night offerings include a series of activities and projects from teamwork and leadership tasks to service in the community, from learning about the government vista to essential life skills acquisition such as ironing and car maintenance. As part of our Senior School Enrichment Programme, boys in Years 7 and 8 take part in projects aligned in their objectives to introduce many aspects of entrepreneurship in preparation for life after Davenies, and beyond.

The Endeavour Project challenges our senior boys to research and create a multi-sensory presentation (in groups) about a topic of their choice; they then deliver short face-to face-talks, in a Science Fair-style, to judges, parents, peers and siblings. In Year 8, boys take part in the Dragons’ Den Project, introducing them to product development, marketing and advertising, culminating in a Dragons’ Den-style presentation to a panel of investors. Following on from this, The Tenner Challenge invites boys to use £20 as seed money (formerly £10 for a number of years but increased due to ever rising costs!) to develop a micro-business in which they design, produce and sell a product, in order to raise money for charity. In doing these projects, boys at Davenies obtain a head start in the areas of project management, sales and marketing, collaborative working and presenting before moving into Year 9, and further ahead, to the GSCE and A level years, potentially planting the seeds of inspiration that could grow and develop into future careers as entrepreneurs. 

The biggest benefits of these projects as part of DAS are seen through observations of the boys. Their ability to work together cooperatively and productively is evident year on year. In preparation for the workplace, boys are able to disagree and debate the merits of different ideas without falling out or taking it personally – there is a collective understanding that it is all for the benefit of the project/team. As a project, it provides the opportunity to all boys, regardless of academic profile, to develop their understanding and shine in a task that they find engaging and exciting. This is borne out in their presentations, which see them thrive whilst being pushed out of their comfort zones, and shows the boys that when they go the extra mile in preparing and developing a project, they can achieve outstanding outcomes. As a result, a number of boys who find presenting a challenge thrive in these projects and their self-confidence and sense of self-efficacy is boosted exponentially. Feedback received from parents about the projects and what their sons get from them are 100% positive every year, as is the reaction received from the boys when reviewing the projects. Their only complaint is that they cannot keep selling and developing their business and profits in school time!

Further strands of DAS include global understanding, cultural experiences, leadership through service and life skills. Drawing on the expertise and experience of leaders in their fields, boys in Years 7 and 8 regularly welcome a variety of guest speakers for short talks followed by a Q&A with time for discussion afterwards. Speakers range from a government advisor talking about Global Issues and the UK’s position in COP26, to a Hollywood Stunt Actor and Coordinator providing an insight into the fascinating, and sometimes dangerous world of filmmaking. Such talks, which are commonplace in senior schools and universities, inform and inspire our boys as they begin to look ahead to future career options. 

Cultural experiences via our Whacky Weekends are a series of optional trips available to both Years 7 and 8. They encompass a range of different visits and activities including theatre outings, adventure trips, meals out and movie nights at school. Although trips vary from term to term, they remain fixed in their fundamental aim of providing a wide range of engaging and cultural experiences for the boys to enjoy, both individually and collectively. By doing things outside of the normal school day, Whacky Weekends form an integral part of the Senior School enrichment programme, providing the chance for boys to strengthen their bonds with each other and the staff, whilst introducing them to new and exciting experiences. 

A rite of passage for all Davenies Year 8 boys, the postexam Leavers’ Programme is founded on the tenets of DAS. The final few weeks of Year 8 life at Davenies are spent offtimetable as the boys enjoy an engaging, stimulating and challenging mix of trips, speakers and activities. As such, the Davenies Award Scheme is viewed as an essential part of a boy’s Davenies education, not merely an add on. The ‘award’ element, therefore, allows for the recognition, reward and celebration of the boys’ engagement, application and achievement as they progress through the multiple strands. Culminating in the award of a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum Certificate, a presentation is made of their overall DAS contributions. In this way, we ensure that each boy’s effort, achievement and experience is recognised formally at the end of their time at Davenies, providing a springboard to success at their next school.

This article first appeared in the 2023/24 edition of Which London School? & the South-East, which you can read in full below: