More and more ambitious young people in Somerset are taking up the opportunity to improve their leadership and communication skills by pursuing a Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award.
Following two years of turbulence caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Somerset DofE team are delighted that a total of 2,649 students have started an award in one of the 62 centres that work directly with the Somerset County Council DofE team.
This includes 533 awards that have been started by disadvantaged pupils, whether at mainstream schools or settings specifically for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN).
The DoE Award can be started in the academic year a young person turns 14, and potentially run until their 25th birthday. It is a progressive award with each level getting slightly longer in terms of time commitment. For example a Bronze Award will take a minimum of six months to achieve, while Gold can take up to 18 months.
The award is achievable for all and does not discriminate against gender, age, and ability. There are four key sections for all of the awards – Physical, Skill, Volunteering, and the Expedition; at Gold there is also the addition of the Residential section.
Participants who commit to the award are likely to experience increased self-belief and confidence, learn new skills, and improve their leadership, teamwork and communication skills.
The principles are that the award is personalised – so every young person can choose their activities and do activities that appeal to them. The award should also be enjoyable and balanced – as well as non-competitive and achievement focussed.
Charlotte Bennett is one of the young people in Somerset currently working for her DofE Award.
“I am taking part in DofE because I think it is a good opportunity to build my skills and confidence whilst having fun with friends,” Charlotte said.
“From taking part I have gained confidence and become more resilient. I have learned new skills and improved my ability to work as part of a team. DofE has allowed to feel part of something good and that I have achieved something.”
Carol Authers, Somerset DofE Operations Manager, expressed her delight at the number of pupils opting to participate in the scheme.
“I am absolutely thrilled we have increased participation numbers for the award. Our DofE Leaders have made this possible and deserve a lot of credit for the success of the award in Somerset. I would like to thank each of them for their commitment in helping to deliver expeditions and providing a full award experience to the participants.
“The DofE operations team who work with home-educated young people alongside supporting our 62 DofE centres also need a massive thank you, for constantly looking at ways to improve the award and grow numbers.”
Heather Thompson, Duke of Edinburgh Award Director – South West, added: “Despite the challenges of the last two years, it is fantastic to see so many young people across Somerset taking part in the DofE this year. The programme has a proud history of giving young people incredible opportunities to develop their skills, showcase their talent, test their resilience, raise aspirations, and give back to their communities so it is wonderful to see so many young people, and communities, benefiting from it. We are hugely grateful to the DofE team at Somerset Council, and all the volunteers across the county, who are developing the young people of Somerset so they have the confidence and self-belief to take on anything that life throws at them in the future!”
The majority of young people across the county will have the opportunity to start their DofE Award at school, college or SEN provider. For anyone who is Home Educated or wishes to access the award if a different way, there is the Somerset Open Award option, where young people can work directly with the Somerset DofE team to gain their award.
Anyone wishing to learn more on any of the options can email DofE@somerset.gov.uk.
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