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General good practice within the organisation
General good practice within the organisation

Quality Mark Logo All 3 Levels

Organisation: The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

Title: General good practice within the organisation

Contact: Susan Wildee



During this challenging time dealing with COVID, many of our partners have been juggling with implementing online solutions, furlough and redeployment and young people have struggled with all the well documented effects of lockdown. Our technological response has been multifaceted and is underpinned by our existing digital system eDofE.

eDofE allows young people to enter details of their activity and demonstrate their progress online. The app introduced in 2019 has made this easier, especially during COVID, so young people can add their information using their phone, for example taking and uploading pictures as evidence instantly.

Using eDofE, Leaders can easily access the information for their groups and are alerted when young people interact with the system. DofE can analyse where activity occurs and where further help may be needed, as well as easily quality check Awards from across Wales. We have a Business Information manager and our operations team can call on various reports and breakdowns of the information to enable them to track and best support their centres.

eDofE allows records to be easily swapped between groups, so that a young person’s activity can be continued no matter if they transfer from centre to centre. E.g. going from secure estate back to school or transferring from a school to a voluntary group.

Using eDofE as our base we were able to layer in further changes and virtual alterations to allow many young people to continue or start an Award:

  1. We introduced flexibilities to the programme to enable young people to continue their DofE within COVID restrictions. Our ‘#DofE with a Difference’ campaign was quickly under pinned by changes in eDofE to facilitate the temporary changes.
  2. We introduced a new temporary Certificate of Achievement (CoA) which would be emailed direct to the participant and encouraged young people to complete the Skills, Physical and Volunteering sections of their award during lockdown. To do this they could take advantage of changes which allow them to swap their activities more than once, mentor family members and we advertised lists of activities which could be completed at home. The CoA recognises young people’s progress through the programme and over 3,000 have been awarded in Wales so far, but they are still able to gain a whole award when Residentials and Expeditions can be completed.
  3. We also introduced a unique virtual award presentation (“Presentations with a Difference”) for groups of young people who had completed their Silver Awards. We enlisted the help of Welsh celebrities to record video presentations which were released on social media for young people, their families and centres to celebrate their achievements.
  4. We implemented a new training platform using Adobe Connect and created materials which would allow us to conduct online training while leaders were not able to travel and had time to consider upskilling. We trained 244 people in 2020-21. This new way of delivering courses continues to be offered and will remain our main way of ensuring that existing leaders are kept current with developments and new leaders receive the training they need to successfully deliver the DofE.
  5. Evaluations rated the training experience at 4.5 out of 5 stars with young people trainees sharing quotes such as:
    • “Brilliant easy to follow interactive enough to keep you engaged”
    • “This was a really useful in-depth course. I am excited to get started in my school as a leader.”
    • “Clear and excellent delivery, great content and enjoyed the interactive aspects. Particularly like the anonymous multiple choice sections.”
  6. We released new recruitment and delivery toolkits to help leaders and young people find all the resources they would need to participate and introduced lots more virtual resources including videos in Welsh and English to help substitute for face to face recruitment presentations when young people were learning from home.
  7. For the first time, we introduced virtual parent/carer information sessions which aim to take pressure off leaders and give information direct to parents/carers about the DofE and how to best support a young person through their Award.

To support young people who will be finding it harder than ever to move into the workplace, we were proud to undertake a 5 day social media campaign for our Employability Week, featuring bespoke video content, support materials, and insights from business leaders, employers and DofE Award holders from around Wales. These valuable resources remain available on our website.


In addition to our eDofe Initiatives we have been busy supporting our inclusivity agenda. Please see examples of our work:

Equal opportunities are central to The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award with one of our 10 guiding principles being “Achievable by all” – the programme is achievable by any young person who chooses to take up its challenge, regardless of ability, gender, background or location.

DofE programmes are youth led and based on the needs and starting point of each individual, this makes them uniquely flexible as a tool for engagement for all young people whatever their circumstances. The programme is ultimately adaptable for all needs and is delivered through youth work in statutory and voluntary groups as well as in schools and specialist settings including Pupil Referral Units, The Secure Estate and businesses. Wherever DofE is delivered the programme can be adapted to suit the individual needs of the young people without reducing positive benefits for those taking part.

Young people choose for themselves what activities they undertake in each section and are fully empowered to pursue interests and activities which are personally relevant and achievable. No two DofE programmes will be identical and this flexibility underpins the enduring attractiveness of the programme for young people over the past 65 years.

Operations Officers review the need in each centre and help identify and provide support/funding based on individual centre need and have funding available, due to our amazing supporters, to target disadvantage and help break down barriers for marginalised young people. We target and regularly achieve 25% of our participants each year to be from disadvantaged backgrounds.

DofE has an Additional Learning Needs (ALN) working group who combine knowledge and experience to bring best practice across the field and facilitate ALN resources being made available to encourage and support centres who need to adapt the programme to support their young people. This group have recently created an ALN Handbook for DofE staff and a series of masterclasses and independent training for staff is being introduced which will also be embedded into induction for all new staff.

Our ALN Centres and groups are able to reflect the diverse interests of the participants and the ingenuity of their leaders working with the flexibility of the programme to overcome all barriers and surprise even their own parents at times. An Award putting them, sometimes for the first time, on an even playing field with their siblings and peers.

A research report for the DofE charity by Chrysalis Research published in March 2021 on “Participation in and impact of the DofE on young people with additional needs” noted that:
“Evidence captured for this research contained a lot of feedback from teachers and others working with ALN young people, highlighting that the programme design and its guiding principles were crucial in making it possible for their students to access it and truly benefit from their experience.

The programme’s focus on the individual and making sure that each participant’s DofE journey is personalised and is a challenge unique to them was the principle that was highlighted most often. The resulting flexibility of the programme as well as its openness to adaptations, to maximise it inclusivity, were mentioned equally often.”

Ysgol Cedewain in Powys have been very successful in embedding DofE into their school

“All of the pupils at Ysgol Cedewain have learning difficulties, but many also have physical and medical needs. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is so inclusive, that all our pupils are able to take part and enjoy the benefits that the award has to offer, whatever their ability. We have seen our students grow in self-confidence, and all aspects of the Award help with this.

The volunteering is sometimes very daunting for our participants, but as the weeks go on, they gain so much in confidence. One volunteering activity that we do is to visit a residential home for the elderly. They have cleaned, and tidied, for the old people, they have enjoyed chatting to them, and these things were very beneficial to our students. But, on top of that, they organised and ran regular bingo sessions for the residents, who thoroughly enjoyed it. The significant thing is that our students are usually the ones who are having the help and support; so for them to be able to help others in a clear and tangible way, was a joy to see.

We have had a wide variety of skills, from filming, car mechanics, learning board games, camp craft and cooking, to name but a few. We adapt the skills depending on their disabilities, but all of them gain new or improved skills.
Many of our students do not enjoy physical activities! They have to be encouraged to improve their fitness, but they all take part in the expeditions we do with the DofE. Even those that need a lot more encouragement in the beginning seem to understand the importance of the actual expedition and push themselves more. This is also when the team-work, that we work hard to instil, comes to the fore, with all students encouraging and helping each other.”

Portfield School – Pembrokeshire

A participant from Portfield School, Pembrokeshire undertook weightlifting for his Physical activity section at Strength Academy Wales. He trains 3 times a week for an hour and a half each time. The club are so impressed with him that following his first competition, the club hope to enter him into Special Olympic Powerlifting competitions and have been liaising with ‘Special Olympics Wales’.

Woodlands School - Cardiff:

The school purchased specialist equipment for their visually impaired pupils enabling them to get the best experience whilst on their expedition. Jess Rumble, Operations Officer says: “The funding for a talking digital compass had a huge impact on the ability of a visually impaired student to participate fully in and enjoy the Bronze qualifying expedition in July 2019. When used with the voice recordings and the braille route booklet produced by the school, the compass meant that the young person could play a full part in navigating the trail and taking ownership of their own expedition. The compass also proved popular with some of the other young people in the group, and was a useful navigational tool that they were able to use with the route booklet. It’s a simple piece of equipment that can really add to the expedition experience of young people with additional needs, and will add great value to the school’s expeditions for the future.

Ysgol Bro Dinefwr - Carmarthenshire

Ysgol Bro Dinefwr has two learning resources for pupils with severe and complex needs, and recently offered a group of students from its specialist resource base the opportunity to do their Bronze DofE.

Although initially unsure whether the DofE was for them, the students decided to embark on a ‘Donkey DofE’, supported by their school-based youth worker.

They incorporated learning about, and caring for, animals into their activities to build their confidence, volunteering at an animal-assisted therapy centre and following a programme of weekly animal care sessions for their Skills section. For their expedition, the group travelled with two donkeys, caring for and prioritising their welfare throughout the journey.

The Bronze participants reported an increase in their confidence and self-esteem as a result of doing their DofE – and their attendance at school has also improved as a result.

Coleg y Cymoedd

Coleg y Cymoedd’s School of Vocational Access has launched a brand-new bike maintenance scheme to help staff and learners with any bike-related issues they may be having.
The course, which has been introduced after the learners expressed an interest and in response to growing numbers of staff and learners cycling to college, will see them develop skills in bike maintenance and then offer out their services on a voluntary basis.

As part of the programme, staff and learners will be able to bring in their bikes to the Nantgarw campus where the learners, assisted by Vocational Access support staff, will be on hand to help fix any issues. They will be able to provide a range of general bike maintenance services from lubricating chains to checking for faulty gears, brakes, handlebars, and moving parts.

The three learners involved in the scheme are all completing the course as part of the skills and volunteering section of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. With Covid restrictions making many volunteering opportunities difficult, the college created the bike maintenance course as a way for learners to fulfil this element of the award while developing valuable skills.

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