in March 2020 the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (the DofE) who are the UK’s leading youth achievement award approached the fund with a project idea for the Cynon valley and we were excited to support them with a grant of £22,220 for their project DofE enhancing young people’s CV! (Cynon Valley). The aim of the project was to further develop programme delivery in Aberdare where specific needs and opportunities have been identified by their local Operations Officer. Of course, at that time nobody knew the impact and disruption that the pandemic would bring. As an organisation they talked to us and we agreed to postpone project and even when delivery started again schools were facing all kinds of pressures and making changes but DofE continued to work with them and us to ensure project could be delivered.
Coleg y Cymoedd: They worked with the college to develop a plan for running DofE, with a strong focus on the sustainability of the DofE provision at the centre. Unfortunately the attempts to launch DofE to the students were hugely impacted by Covid restrictions, with students learning online for a large period of the project, followed by difficulties in bringing groups of students together. However, the college is still committed to making DofE a success, and the extension to the original project timeframe means DofE can continue to support them to work towards these objectives.
Ysgol Maesgwyn: faced challenges in delivering DofE during Covid restrictions, but were able to support 11 young people to start a DofE Award over the two years:
4 Bronze in the 2020/21 academic year
7 Bronze in the 2021/22 academic year
Due to the challenges caused by Covid, the school decided to focus only on the Bronze Award, with a view to reintroducing Silver and Gold from September 2022. Over the same two-year period, 2 participants achieved their Bronze Award, and 2 participants (who started their Awards in 2019/20) achieved their Silver Award. The participants who started their DofE Awards in the 2021/22 academic year will complete their Awards during the current academic year. The school now has 2 Leaders with all the skills and qualifications needed to lead DofE in the school, as well as deliver exciting, accessible expeditions to any young person from the school who wishes to take part. The funding also supported these groups to complete their expeditions, which was a much valued opportunity to explore new areas of the country after lockdown restrictions. The school was able to purchase expedition kit and clothing to enable the participants to access the expedition section and this will continue to benefit many future groups of young people at the school.
Park Lane School had a great success in expanding DofE to more pupils, with a total of 33 young people starting a DofE Award over the two years:
10 Bronze and 2 Silver in the 2020/21 academic year
14 Bronze, 4 Silver and 3 Gold in the 2021/22 academic year
Over the same two year period, 13 participants achieved their Bronze Award and 7 participants achieved their Silver Award (some of these were participants who started their Awards in the 2019/20 academic year). The participants who started their DofE Awards in the 2021/22 academic year will complete their Awards during the current academic year. The school identified two new Leaders to run DofE in the school, and over the past two years they have gained the skills and knowledge to deliver DofE to pupils – from sign up through to achievement. Supported by the funding, these Leaders attended the Introduction to DofE and Expedition Assessor and Supervisor Training courses, and further developed their skills by attending Lowland Leader Training and Outdoor First Aid courses, with the Lowland Leader Assessment booked for this year. These National Governing Body outdoor qualifications mean that the Leaders are able to plan and lead DofE expeditions.
Quote from DofE “Whilst the project faced many challenges during and after the pandemic, the training for DofE Leaders has enabled more young people to take part in their DofE at Park Lane and Maesgwyn schools than was previously possible, and the Leaders have also acquired the skills and knowledge to support young people with a range of additional needs to take part in their DofE. The funding provided by the project was key in increasing participation by removing financial barriers. Young people facing barriers to taking part were supported with a funded place, and the schools invested in equipment and clothing to ensure they had what they needed to complete their expeditions safely and successfully. The funding and support of the Leaders has led to an excellent achievement rate for the young people at these centres over the past two years and the training opportunities that Leaders have been able to access has been a key part in developing sustainable DofE provision at each centre. The purchase of kit and equipment is another key factor in creating a long-term, affordable DofE offer for young people at each centre.” – Ian Gwilym, DofE
Quote from PyC “We were excited to support this project as DofE supports young people from all backgrounds develop vital skills for life and work – regardless of any barriers. The Award is a game-changer in a young person’s life and operates in schools, colleges, youth groups and pupil referral units. Young people make a significant commitment when they undertake their DofE, and the positive effects are proven and far-reaching. Communities are enriched with passionate and driven volunteers. Schools taking part build a powerful culture of non-formal learning that drives attainment. They showed real resilience and commitment to the project during the most difficult of times and we are sure that the project will have a lasting impact for those schools involved and future students.” – Kate Breeze, Executive Director Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund
Quote from Park Lane School
“The funding that has been invaluable and has been used in a number of ways. Firstly, it has funded the places for our pupils which has been a great benefit. Many of the families in our school have financial constraints which would highly likely have made it difficult for many to participate and to not experience the opportunities available through Duke of Edinburgh. We have pupils who are working at Bronze award, Silver award and Gold award. In order to support their volunteering section the pupils said they wanted to support the local schools through litter picking. As a result, we have purchased litter pickers and bin bag holders to allow them to do this independently and with more confidence. In previous years we have borrowed this equipment from a local garden centre. Being able to have this equipment readily available allows for more frequent and spontaneous volunteering sessions. We saw an increase in confidence, problem solving skills, resilience and responsibility in our students and most of all they had fun and enjoyed themselves. It has allowed our pupils to build their confidence, self-esteem and independence. They love the challenges and it supports their team work and social skills.”