Uncovered: The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

It is synonymous with personal development and employers see it as a mark of excellence on an applicant’s CV. Independent School Parent tells you all you need to know about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award…

What is it and who can take part?
The DofE award was founded by The Duke of Edinburgh in 1956. The initial idea came from the Duke and his Headmaster, Kurth Hahn, at Gordonstoun School. Both recognised that it would give young people a sense of achievement and purpose.
It is achieved by completing a programme of activities that can be undertaken by anyone aged 14 to 24. DofE programmes take between 1 year and 4 years to complete, depending on the route taken. All programmes must be completed by the participant’s 25th birthday. It has built an admirable reputation with both universities and employers who recognise it as a mark of excellence on their applicants CVs.
It is awarded as recognition of a young person’s successful journey of self-discovery and development. Its balanced programme develops the whole person – mind, body and soul, in an environment of social interaction and team working.

The breakdown

There are three levels which, when completed, lead to a Bronze, Silver or Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Your son or daughter achieves their Award by completing a personal programme of activities in four sections (five if they’re going for Gold): Volunteering, Physical, Skills, Expedition, and, in the Gold Award, Residential.

The variety on offer will mean they could find themselves helping people or the community, improving their fitness, developing new skills, going on an expedition and taking part in a residential activity (Gold only).

Time frame
It will take your child a minimum of six months to complete their Bronze DofE programme. They can start their Bronze when they are 14 (or slightly earlier if most of their peers are already 14). They will have to complete a two-day, one-night expedition and also undertake their chosen activities for three months from the other three sections: Physical, Skills and Volunteering.
It’s worth doing the Awards in order as it takes at least six months to complete a Silver DofE programme with a Bronze Award under their belt, 12 months otherwise. Similarly, a Gold DofE programme can be completed in at least 12 months if they have a Silver Award but at least 18 months without, even if they have already achieved a Bronze Award.

They are required to show regular commitment to the Award for the duration of their DofE programme – usually at least one hour per week.

Time for the expedition!
This can be one of the most challenging, but also the most rewarding, sections of a young person’s programme as participants are required to plan, train for and complete an adventurous journey in the UK or abroad.
The section helps to develop initiative and leadership and will really challenge your daughter beyond her expectations.
It also offers your child a rare opportunity to truly separate themselves from their daily lives and modern mass media and communications. They can learn to be entirely self-sufficient!

Volunteering in the community
For many participants, the Volunteering section offers a completely new experience. They are able to learn about, and engage with, their communities and feel a sense of belonging and purpose.
DofE participant Sebastian established an IT course for his community with two of his friends as part of their Volunteering section.
“It has proved to be challenging but rewarding, and people have really enjoyed what we have done. It has been great to see that benefit and satisfaction directly and it has been nice for us to give something back to the community.”

The deciding factor – your child gets to tailor their Award

Your son or daughter’s programme can be full of activities and projects that gets them buzzing, and along the way they’ll pick up experiences, friends and talents that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
If you need any further information, talk to your local DofE Leader or, if you’re not sure where you can do your DofE, get in touch with your nearest Licensed Organisation and they will be able to help you!
Getting Started
Before they start, your child will need to complete an enrolment form and pay a small DofE participation fee. They will then receive a DofE Welcome Pack full of lots of helpful information and their own online DofE account where they can log in and record their progress through their DofE programme.

To get started, the participant just needs to pick which activities they want to do for each section and confirm their choices, along with their timescales, to their DofE Leader, who will support them all the way through their programme – then they’re all ready to go!

More opportunities
Huge benefits are also gained from the Physical and Skills sections. These help young people improve their fitness, learn to set and respond to challenges and raise their self-esteem through improved performance, as well as improving their time management skills.
The Residential section is a fundamental part of Gold DofE programmes. It may well be the first time a young person has been away from home for any length of time. This experience develops self-sufficiency and the confidence to thrive in an unfamiliar environment.

Employability
Amey plc, currently offers Gold DofE programmes for all of its younger staff, Chief Executive Mel Ewell says, “We believe the DofE is incredibly important, offering young people the opportunity to experience fresh challenges and achieve new skills, while contributing to their local community. We are very proud to be a Gold partner of the DofE.”
In research carried out by The University of Northampton into the value of the DofE, 87% of the DofE Leaders said that participants’ problem solving skills improved while doing their DofE programme. Meanwhile, an incredible 93% feel that doing their DofE has helped them to develop teamwork skills.
Independent research carried out by the United Learning Trust showed that employers considered The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award to be the most important activity undertaken at school outside of formal qualifications. For more on The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Charity visit: DofE.org

This article is courtesy of Independent School Parent
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