How does the Duke of Edinburgh award help you?

Making a difference in real life

Here’s a couple of short stories. I’ll try and keep it brief.

We work with all sorts of schools and youth organisations… some of the best schools in the world, right through to schools that have pupils with serious behavioural needs. The following gives an example from both extremes…

Taking responsibility & turning life around

There was one participant; he came along on one of our expeditions within a team of young men whose behaviour was very poor and completely antisocial. My team and I took him through his bronze and silver DofE expeditions. The difference in the participant from the beginning to the end, was night and day.

We gave him some responsibility, and thought that he would struggle with things at the beginning, but to our surprise he took to it like it like a duck to water.

An unfortunate percentage of the pupils at this particular school will normally end up in prison. I think about half of the lads from that year group ended up back in prison or serious trouble of some sort, from what I have been told.

This young man, who everybody thought would end up in prison after he left education, is now on the management fast track at a worldwide corporate company. He is doing exceptionally well and works really hard.

When he saw his teacher after he left the school, he said that the best part of his educational journey as a teenager was his Duke of Edinburgh award, in particular the expedition, because it brought him out of his shell. This young man wasn’t an amazing academic, and he certainly didn’t like being inside classrooms. To put this in perspective though, when we first took him out, he’d never seen a sheep in real life.

The expedition taught him about being responsible for himself, managing his team, communicating and dealing with problems. It opened his eyes to a different way of thinking and actually allowed him to be comfortable with succeeding in a in an environment that was completely alien to him.

Being able to demonstrate that you’ve gone the extra mile

On the other side of things, a friend of mine who I did my DofE with when I was a teenager, and who is still a very good friend of mine to this day, went in to the biomedical sciences industry and is now one of the top in his field.

In his first interview, he got the job because of his gold DofE.

The person who interviewed him was his line manager for many years, so the fact that it was his DofE that got him the job was actually clarified further down the line. It was made clear to him that his academic achievement was good, and the stuff he did outside of school was was great, but the fact he did his gold DofE was the reason he was picked beyond another 42 People.

Now he has a very successful career, not just because he’s a bright chap, which he is, but because he did something extra, by completing his gold DofE. He got the job that set him on the path of being one of the brightest and best in his industry, this is just one success story, and there are plenty of others if you ask around.

The world’s leading youth achievement scheme

The Duke of Edinburgh’s award is the world’s leading youth achievement award. It’s been going since 1956, with hundreds of thousands of young people involved in the UK every year.

Why is it so popular?

The reason it’s so popular is because it develops young people in lots of different ways, notably, it’s about trying new experiences, it’s about meeting new people, it’s all about learning new skills.

Improving soft skills

From a soft skill point of view, if we wanted to categorise what those things are, we would be looking at enhancing the self reliance of an individual, their perseverance, communication skills, teamwork skills, leadership skills and the capability to deal with problems in adverse conditions. All of these components are what is going to help them in their future lives and careers. These are things that go beyond academic achievement. That’s why the top employers in the UK and around the the world value the DofE so much.

We all know that the academic side of life is important… we all know that it is, but having a Duke of Edinburgh’s award also shows prospective employers, universities, or whomever it may be, that you have a very high level of those soft skills, responsibility, commitment and in my opinion that is what the DofE does best for the future lives of participants.


Thanks for reading,

Sam Sykes

Sam Sykes™ Bronze DofE Expedition Documentary

In November a group of school children from inner-city Manchester, set off to the Lake District to begin their Duke of Edinburgh adventure. For many it was their first time in the countryside.


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