Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

DofE LogoYesterday I was at a roadshow given by the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme for the South East Region. (If you haven’t heard of the Award or want to find out what you have to do to complete it have a look here.) It was a really interesting presentation as the Charity is looking to up date it’s image and develop more interactive / web based systems. This was very positive and also ties in with a lot of the work we are doing across the county to develop our monitoring and information systems and hopefully (fingers crossed) their system will help with this!

As a County we support the DofE and use it as one of the main forms of accrediting young people’s activities. Knowing that there is occasionally an image problem with the Duke of Edinburghs Award we have worked hard to try to ensure that it is available for all young people and that they can all have a go at the Award.Cobnor Activity Centre

This has meant that we have made a lot of use of Sectional Certificates (where a young person completes a part of the Award for instance the Expedition) and then gets recognition for this. We have also used ‘Access Certificates’ where a young person completes a part of the Award maybe the skills section with the local canoe club and can then sign up, or not, to complete the rest of it if they wish.

For us the key objective is that young people have the opportunity to take part in a personal development programme that is based on their interests and is something that has national recognition (especially outside of youth work settings). It was therefore somewhat disconcerting to hear that those involved in developing the award appear more concerned with ‘completion’ rates and individuals completing the ‘whole’ award. When asked whether they were going to get rid of access organisations (places like leisure centres, youth centres etc that are monitored by those that hold a licence, usually the local authority) they said that it was under consideration. We pushed to find out why and were told that people were abusing the system, when we tried to find out what this abuse was it came down to the fact that young people were then not signing up for the whole award.

For me this goes against all the work that we have been trying to do. Any system of accreditation has to take into account the young person’s needs and interests and surely should be about the young persons journey. I found it disturbing that the organisation is potentially going down to a one size fits all mode. Fortunately this is under discussion and hopefully we will be able to influence that decision!

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Comments on: "Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme" (2)

  1. I think the difficulty with DofE is its so large that its hard to fight against the inevitable increase in bureaucracy that comes with growth. Its a shame if the result is that the focus shifts towards self promotion though.

    I’m surprised that DofE is still thought of as having a bit of an image problem though – I’ve been hearing organisations saying for years that they’ve been using it with ‘disadvantaged young people’ despite the image etc. so thought that by now with all that going on this would have rebalanced.

    I’ve never worked directly with DofE but have worked with a lot of young people making their way through one award or another and what I really like about it is that it is something that is widely recognised – I think most employers would understand that somebody has had to undertake some ‘challenge/s’ etc. in order to gain an award.

    What I’d really like to see is a scheme with similar recognition that recognises ‘community challenges/contributions’ and that has routes for young people that don’t want/aren’t able to do the ‘outdoorsy’ aspects. The problem I imagine is they’d need a huge amount of investment to get to this stage (but maybe that would be more useful than the funding thats gone into V to get young people doing what they were largely already doing anyway?!)

    PS – like the new blog theme

  2. billybean said:

    We still encounter a problem with image amongst some colleagues and external partners who are not aware of how far the award has developed and therefore don’t choose to promote it to the young people they are working with.

    I definately like the fact that it is widely recognised and most people have some understanding of what it is. I also like the fact that it is not portfolio based and that there is actually minimal writing etc involved and that it is more activity led.

    It would be great to have a ‘community challenges/ contributions’ type award wouldn’t it?!? I know that there is the old MV now becoming V certification but I for one struggle with using this and its ‘value’.

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