Duke of Edinburgh
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) is the world’s leading achievement award for young people, recognised by employers and universities alike. It helps to instil a sense of adventure and has a lasting impact on young people’s behaviour, skills and life chances.
As with all Duke of Edinburgh awards at Longridge Towers, pupils are encouraged to create their own tailored DofE programme by choosing a volunteering, physical and skills activities which suit their ambitions and interests, going on an expedition and taking part in a residential activity which requires them to work with people with whom they have not worked with previously. The award enables pupils to develop holistically in a non-competitive environment, and in a way which elevates their self-confidence, independence and aspirations. The DofE is a widely recognised qualification and is viewed in a very positive fashion by university admissions tutors and employers, as it allows pupils to demonstrate resilience and self-management skills.
Each section of the programme focuses on developing a core aspect in our pupils, in a fun yet challenging manner and has specific aims and purposes. By completing the various components, our students develop new skills, confidence and talents, help their community and gain a greater appreciation of the world and their surrounding areas.
Provided they meet the age qualification on completion of the award, pupils are able to enrol in their Bronze Award in either Form 3 or Form 4. To achieve this level, they must take part in activities in each of the sections mentioned above. Their expedition is usually based locally, making use of the beautiful countryside available in both Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. It involves two days of walking, with pupils required to carry everything they need, including for camping out overnight.The expedition allows the pupils to use the skills and knowledge they have learned in the weekly enrichment, including camp craft, navigation, first aid, cooking and organisation. Pupils often find the expedition challenging,but the sense of self-worth and resilience it creates is invaluable in developing their self-esteem.
Although pupils would generally start the award in Lower Sixth, it may be possible for them to start slightly earlier, provided they meet the age requirements. They do not need to have completed Bronze or Silver before the Gold award, as it is possible to be a direct entrant. The Gold Award is a considerably harder challenge and does require a high level of commitment. However, the positive experiences that pupils gain are highly beneficial in their overall development and give a great sense of achievement.
The big difference between the Gold award and Bronze and Silver levels is that an independent residential activity must be undertaken, for at least 4 nights. Pupils at Longridge are encouraged to broaden their horizons as much as possible, and sometimes by travelling abroad to carry out conservation in less developed countries.
The expedition at Gold level requires pupils to spend 4 nights camping and 5 days travelling. Prior to the adventure, pupils are required to plan their own journey as part of a team, choosing where they wish to undertake their expedition. Previous groups have run their practice expedition in the snowy Lake District and then used the Yorkshire Dales for their assessed expedition.