Writing: James Watson (Former Student) and Patrick Jenkins (Former Student)
The DofE (Duke of Edinburgh) Award scheme is the largest youth achievement programme in the UK, with almost 300,000 teenagers signing up for it last year. Launched in 1956, it encourages young people to learn new skills, be physically active, and make a difference in their local area. The programme comprises three awards (Bronze, Silver, and Gold) and is aimed at anyone between the ages of 14-24. Through the scheme, you spend at least an hour each on volunteering, a skill, and a physical activity, per week for a certain time frame depending on the level. Participants complete an overnight expedition in small groups while participating in their awards, and at Gold level they must also spend at least 5 days away from home on a residential.
Alongside the actual process, throughout the journey of completing the award there are a huge number of skills to learn and to develop. Completing the award is useful on CV’s or personal statements as it can demonstrate where you have used your skills in real life situations, and what makes DofE so great is that throughout your journey there are numerous opportunities where you can demonstrate and build upon these skills. Whether that be through being organised and keeping on track with your activities, or through teamwork and communication during an expedition. Furthermore, DofE can be a great way to meet new people and build on new friendships. Given that so much of the award is to do with being around other people it means there are so many ways in which you can meet people who are passionate about similar things to you which can make the whole experience even more enjoyable. Overall, it’s important to remember that DofE can offer you tools which you will use in many situations throughout your life and this can be highly valuable for progressing in the future, but additionally it shows a hugely positive outlook on who you are as a person and alongside the skills which you can develop it is a highly rewarding experience.Duke of Edinburgh's Award websiteeDofE login page
DofE at DCGS has quickly risen in popularity since it was introduced over ten years ago: this year 120 students from Year 10 are doing Bronze and 60 in Sixth Form are completing Gold. The Silver award is also going to be run at Challoner’s from next year, and will be offered to Year 10’s who have done Bronze as an exciting way to further their experience. Each participant will also gain access to their own eDofE account, where they can track their progress, plan their expedition, and look for ideas. The expeditions are some of the highlights of the programme that send Gold students to Dartmoor for a four day hiking tour and Bronze students to the Lambourn Downs for a two day trip, all organised by Mr Sharp.
Whilst challenging, these will create long-lasting memories and expand participants’ skill sets significantly. Support with finding opportunities and completing activity planners can be found on the frequent DofE email communications, and in the weekly 'DofE Clinic' on Thursdays. Overall, the programme is a great way to make and strengthen friendships, develop new skills, and give back to the community through volunteering.