The Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) Scheme is very important to both students and staff at Banovallum School.
Since the recent passing of HRH Prince Philip, founder of the awards, we would like to take the time to reflect and show the benefits of this rewarding scheme.
Initially, the scheme was only open to boys between the ages of 15 and 18, as Prince Philip wanted to encourage boys to ‘get out there’ and learn new skills before they joined the Army or got a job.
However, this soon changed, and a year later girls of the same age could participate in the scheme.
The DofE awards started as a national scheme but has now reached 130 countries, where young people aged 15 to 24 can enjoy the award.
Even if you are over 30-years of age, there is still the opportunity to participate through DofE Adventure, where participants can raise money for the charity and complete an expedition.
The staff who participate in the DofE at Banovallum School get to work with students outside of a classroom setting and see them learn new skills and grow as individuals.
Our leader, Mrs Fawcett, does an incredible job of supporting every student and ensures that they thrive during their DofE journey.
Our staff voluntarily filled in a questionnaire about DofE, and the responses were 100 percent positive.
Everybody agreed that Mrs Fawcett is the ‘glue that holds the team together’
Mrs Armstrong said that the DofE at Banovallum School is ‘run amazingly and led by an enthusiastic leader who is committed to each individual student’.
Mrs Sheehan agreed by saying it is ‘well organised’ and a ‘great opportunity’ that is open to all.
I think it’s important to recognise all the staff who make DofE possible for our students and we owe a lot to those who help behind the scenes.
Mr Bollan, head of creative arts and design technology, also helps as an assessor for students at Banovallum who choose skills such as woodwork and manufacturing – he feels that being a mentor to students is very rewarding and enjoys providing an ‘opportunity for a student to complete a project’.
Participating in DofE is a great way to learn new skills and meet new people.
It’s amazing to see so many of our teachers at Banovallum enjoy the scheme too, be it helping with expeditions or being mentors/assessors to our students during their other sections.
Our staff have all said that it is visible students who participate in the scheme gain confidence, leadership skills, resilience, independence, creativity, and problem solving. These are just some of the skills you gain from DofE.
Currently, around 438,000 young people are participating in the award, and last September, when the scheme had its 56th anniversary, over eight million people had participated in the scheme since it first started in September 1965.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Banovallum has continued to run the award scheme at Bronze Award and Silver Award level.
I am part of the Silver Award group which is preparing to go on expedition soon.
At Banovallum, we always get a high interest rate, and 16 pupils are currently doing the silver DofE Award.
To complete the Silver award, you must complete three essential sections: skills, physical and volunteering.
You receive a logbook where you fill in your progress, which you eventually use as evidence to show your hard work and effort.
For example, Freya Vine (Year 10) who is also in the process of completing her silver award, has chosen to: bake as her skill, walk and cycle for her physical section, and help her elderly nan for her volunteering.
Freya helps her nan by walking the dog, cleaning around the house and other household activities.
Since volunteering, Freya said she has found a ‘deep appreciation for helping others’ and enjoys the time she spends with her nan.
Another student participating in DofE is Liv Taylor (Year 10) who has chosen singing, running, and litter-picking.
Liv said: “I wanted to do DofE because I wanted to push myself.
“I have met lots of new people, improved my fitness, and I got to spend lots of quality time with my friends.”
After completing her bronze award, Liv had enjoyed it so much that she had no hesitation in signing up for her silver too!
Kieran Taylor (Year 11) chose to volunteer at the Horncastle Library, learn woodturning, and play badminton.
Kieran has loved participating in the DofE award too, because it has inspired him to continue woodturning and badminton as new skills/hobbies!
Kieran had never volunteered before, but DofE has shown him and many students across the country what volunteering is and how beneficial it can be for local communities.
Additionally, Kieran mentioned that one reason he wanted to take part in the scheme was that it would help in future job applications for jobs and higher education.
This is not only because of all the skills he has learnt, but because it allows schools and employers to know more about you and skills gained from the experience.
All the students can’t wait for the expedition!
Even though our expedition is a little different this year, due to covid-19, it’s still the same in principle.
We are currently practising our tent building skills, simple first aid, cooking with a Trangia, navigation skills, and learning how to be organised when packing our rucksacks.
The staff do an amazing job at teaching us these vital skills and ensure we are prepared for all scenarios.
Overall, I just want to say a massive thank you to all the staff who volunteer to help the DofE students, because it definitely wouldn’t be possible without all the time and support they put in.
I hope that Banovallum continues to run the DofE Award Scheme for years to come, because it is such a successful scheme that encourages the youth of our country to seek excellence and excel in everything they choose to achieve.
A fantastic legacy from The Duke of Edinburgh, whose role has now been taken up by his son, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.