Millions have transformed their lives through the DofE. We now want to enable every young person in the UK to gain its benefits. By 2020/21 we aim to:
How we operate
We license and support a range of organisations including: schools, colleges, youth groups, young offender institutions, fostering agencies and hospitals to run DofE programmes for their young people.
Our Executive Management Team works together to grow provision of the DofE so that more young people can have this life-changing opportunity.
Our Trustees set the charity’s strategic direction, monitor the delivery of its objectives and uphold its values and governance.
There are lots of exciting activities and events going on at the DofE so, whether you’re writing an article about apprenticeships or volunteering, life skills or university admissions, we can help.
For DofE news, young people’s stories and press releases take a look at The Latest.
For non media enquiries please contact Head Office on 01753 727400 or email us on [email protected].
For all general media enquiries please contact [email protected]. For urgent out of hours media enquiries please call 07769 131 566.
The DofE is proud to be part of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation which supports operators in more than 130 countries and territories to deliver DofE and increase opportunities for young people.
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh first considered the idea of a national programme to support young people’s development in the autumn of 1954 at the request of his inspiring former headmaster, Kurt Hahn.
In the post-war era, His Royal Highness wanted to bridge the gap between leaving formal education at 15 and entering into National Service at 18, so that young men made the best use of their free time, found interests and acquired self-confidence and a sense of purpose that would support them into their future and help them to become well-rounded citizens.
Following discussions with the Minister of Education in 1955, The Duke of Edinburgh consulted a number of national voluntary youth organisations with a ‘boy’ membership with a view to starting a pilot.
Led by Sir John Hunt (later Lord Hunt), who provided the necessary administration and co-ordination amongst the partner organisations as the first Director, a pilot for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was launched in February 1956. The programme had four sections; Rescue and Public Service, Expeditions, Pursuits and Projects, and fitness, which would holistically support, guide and upskill young men as The Duke envisaged.
Initially the pilot just involved national voluntary youth organisations and many attended a planning conference at Ashridge College in Hertfordshire in March, 1956. However, the pilot was quickly extended to include Local Education Authorities, the Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, and a handful of independent and grammar schools across the UK. After the first year, 7,000 boys had started a DofE programme and 1,000 Awards had been achieved.
In fact, the pilot proved such a success that, by the second year, other small scale pilots overseas and a programme for girls had also been set up. Furthermore, the number of organisations and young people taking part had more than doubled.
The DofE continued to evolve over subsequent decades and in 1980 the age limit was extended so that any young person aged 14 to 24 could take part. At this time, DofE programmes took on their current four section format of: Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition, with an additional Residential section at Gold level.
Popularity continues to grow, with over 130 countries and territories now offering DofE programmes as part of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation. In the UK in 2019/20, 295,490 young people started a DofE programme and a record 159,051 Awards were achieved through schools, colleges, universities, youth clubs, businesses, housing associations, young offender institutions, voluntary organisations and more.