Mrs Collins, Coordinator of Lower School Science and DofE Manager
In our latest blog, Mrs Collins, Coordinator of Lower School Science and DofE Manager, shares insight into the benefits of the Duke of Edinburgh Award and how the courses have adapted post the coronavirus pandemic.
Over to Mrs Collins …
The DofE charity works with schools and organisations across the UK to help young people gain essential skills, experience, confidence and resilience to successfully navigate adult life. The programme features four sections of Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition, with an additional Residential section at Gold level. Some of the benefits of taking DofE include learning about the environment, becoming fitter, developing new skills and completing expeditions.
I have taught Science at SGGS for 17 years and have been involved with DofE for 15 years. The popularity of the awards continues to grow, with over 130 countries and territories now offering programmes as part of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation. At SGGS, we have seen this popularity first-hand. Bronze awards are regularly fully subscribed and, despite naturally becoming less as Silver and Gold awards get progressively harder, interest remains strong at all levels. We have had more applications for Silver awards this year than ever before.
Skill development and increased confidence are two of the most common outcomes seen in students who complete DofE. The awards represent a way for girls to get involved with activities they may not usually and encourages them to find new ways of learning beyond what the methods they are used to applying in the classroom. I am very passionate about making students aware of volunteering and the important role this has in the community. Through DofE, students learn to give something back and many find inspiration to keep doing supporting charities beyond completing their awards, in some cases becoming a lifelong vocation. This is more important now than ever, with many charities relying on the support of young people as elderly supporters shield from the global health crisis.
Changes after lockdown
The biggest change to DofE awards this year is the way expeditions are carried out. Usually, Silver Award students would visit somewhere like the Peak District and Gold Award students could find themselves as far away as Dartmoor or Snowdonia. This year, all DofE expeditions will be taking place in much closer regional proximity, as there will be no overnight camping involved. This means students will go on walks and expeditions during the day but will return home to sleep at night. This may change by the time Summer expeditions take place in 2021, but this is the current approved safe process.
The main principals and four pillars of DofE have not been altered by the coronavirus pandemic and students are still expected to complete an expedition, show evidence of volunteering, undertake a physical activity and develop a skill they already have; which can range from cooking, playing instruments, first-aid and many more. The wellbeing benefits of these types of activities are always beneficial, but certainly whilst the world remains amid the coronavirus pandemic, initiatives like this are very welcome as they provide respite and something positive to look forward to and focus on.
We have remained committed to offering students the opportunity to take part and achieve recognition for their efforts in DofE. Throughout lockdown, we have continued to hold discussions with both Rezilient and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Central England Office regarding moving forwards. We are incredibly grateful that the volunteers who work with Rezilient are still happy to run expeditions for our students. Rezilient are a local social enterprise company who operate in Stratford-upon-Avon, they are a DofE Approved Activity Provider and hold an AALA licence. Further information can be found on their website www.rezilient.org.uk.
There are still places available for students who are interested in obtaining a Gold Award. This level is particularly appealing to employers and for use on university application submissions. If you would like to find out more or apply, please get in touch.