“Great oaks from little acorns grow.”
14th century proverb

  • The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme | Dickinson School Consulting
  • The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme | Dickinson School Consulting

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme

The DofE, as it is more often known, is a scheme of awards for young people aged 14 to 24, which recognises their achievements in the fields of Volunteering, Physical Activity, Skills and in completing a Team Expedition. Most British boarding schools support students to complete the award, whether at Bronze, Silver or Gold level, due to its universal recognition as proof of an individual’s commitment, resilience and teamwork.

The award is named after HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, who worked with his former headmaster, Kurt Hahn of Gordonstoun School, and the current Minister of Education to develop a programme that would help young men to acquire self-confidence and a sense of purpose. The pilot launched in 1956 had four sections: Rescue and Public Service, Expeditions, Pursuits and Projects, and fitness.

Initially delivered by national voluntary youth organisations, the pilot was quickly extended to include Local Education Authorities, the Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, and a handful of independent and grammar schools. It was such a success that in 1957 a girls’ programme was added, and the number of organisations and young people taking part had more than doubled. Interesting now to note that the girls’ activities were Design for Living, Adventure and Interests, and Service!

Thankfully, the DofE evolved so that by 1980 boys and girls were following the same format, the one still in use today: Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition. For the DofE Bronze Award, participants commit to six months of one of the activities and three months of each of the other two, plus a two-day team expedition. For example, Gina’s son recently achieved his Bronze with three months’ volunteering at his tennis centre, helping on reception; six months of karate; three months of demonstrating his cooking skills (which Gina still misses!), and his team’s expedition was a two-day trek across the Yorkshire Dales (pictured above) from Malham to Grassington. The Silver and Gold awards follow a similar format, but scaled up and with an additional Residential section at Gold level.

The British boarding schools we recommend know the DofE is widely acknowledged as the world’s leading youth achievement award, appreciated by higher education providers and employers alike, which is why they encourage and support students to attain at least one of the levels. Speak to Gina to find out more and to help you find the right setting for your child.