A £12,000 appeal has been launched by Kidderminster’s Baxter College to save a “hugely- beneficial” Duke of Edinburgh programme, supporting up to 180 students annually.

The school has been funding free places for all Year 9 students to take the Bronze Award since 2021, during which time Covid adaptations meant the expedition element was run over two days without camping.

This summer was the final year of the restriction and now the school has to buy camping equipment to enable the year group to complete the expedition and achieve the Bronze Award in 2024 and subsequent years.

Andrew Macpherson, science teacher and DofE manager, said: “We know from many years of running the DofE Awards scheme the benefits to students - building skills, confidence, self-esteem and resilience.

“That’s why we took the decision to fund places for every Year 9 student. It provided them with focus and challenge during the upheaval of the pandemic and has proved to be hugely beneficial to their all-round progress, so we are determined to keep going.”

But the school has been unable to find grant aid to allow three groups of 50 students to take part in the required overnight expedition next summer and is appealing for support from local businesses and organisations.

Mr Macpherson said: “A basic kit pack consisting of a rucksack, sleeping bag and waterproofs for each student, plus tents and stoves, costs around £200. We have a good store, but not at this scale – so I desperately hope we can find some sponsors to support us.”

As well the expedition, students have to undertake volunteering work, learn new skills and achieve a greater level of fitness to gain a DofE award.

Mr Macpherson is contacting a number of local businesses and organisations to appeal for help and if any others are interested in contributing, they are asked to call him at Baxter College on 01562 741524.