On Friday 26th May 2017 Wessex Archaeology (WA) hosted our third and final Jon Egging Trust (JET) Blue Skies inspiration day for this year. The participants are enrolled in the Level 2 (second year) of the programme, which offers inspirational activities and experiences to encourage the 13–15-year-old students to reach their full potential. Once again the day, held at Perham Down on Salisbury Plain, was based on archaeology and history, but this time with an underlying theme of ‘leadership’.
The students were divided into three groups and asked to choose a leader. Two of the groups kept the same leader throughout the day, while one decided to take turns. The three exercises on offer, which were devised to emphasise good leadership, allowed the participants to take on the responsibility of directing a team, and showed the importance of recognising people’s skills and of strategic delegation. Team members also assessed how well their leader managed their role.
Overseen by Nick Crabb (WA), each group was tasked with conducting a geophysical survey of a defined area of the landscape, in order to detect buried archaeological features. They used Ground Penetrating Radar equipment mounted on a cart. They soon found that wheeling the cart could be very tiring, but group leaders solved this problem by rotating the task between the team members.
After some instruction, Kirsten Egging Dinwiddy and Mai Walker (WA) asked the team leaders to direct the setting-out and excavation of a test pit as safely and as accurately as possible. A Safety Officer was assigned to take responsibility for team welfare, including ensuring everyone drank plenty of water on such a hot day! A few of the students were delighted to find a few interesting artefacts associated with the military use of the site.
The Breaking Ground Heritage (BGH) team, led by Dickie Bennett, and Richard Osgood of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) were very successful in promoting leadership skills and encouraged all the groups to work as effective units. Their military-based activities enabled some of the shyer students to feel confident enough to contribute to, and even direct the teams.
The students clearly enjoyed working outdoors and engaging with the various activities, and it was a pleasure to see them growing in confidence and using skills they have been working so hard to develop.
Wessex Archaeology is very grateful to Richard Osgood of DIO for arranging access to Perham Down and for again being on-hand to help host the session, together with Dickie Bennett and his team (Matt Smith and Chris Boyd) from BGH – an archaeology-based recovery pathway for injured military personnel. Mark Khan (DIO) was kind enough to offer his time to assist, particularly with identifying various objects found during the day. We also extend our thanks to the staff of Ferndown Upper School and Kaye Jackson (JET Youth Liaison Officer) for co-ordinating and supporting the visit. It is always a pleasure to contribute towards the JET Blue Skies Programme.