Our strategy: Youth Without Limits

We want to give more than one million young people the chance to participate in our life-changing programmes, over the next five years.

Strategy Strategy (Welsh language)

 

We will focus particularly on those who experience marginalisation, ensuring that the DofE is open to all young people and that our participants reflect the most diverse generation of young people ever.

Latest statistics Annual Review Financial Statements

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.

Executive Leadership Team

Our Executive Leadership Team works together to grow provision of the DofE so that more young people can have this life-changing opportunity.

Badminton
Trustees

Our Trustees set the charity’s strategic direction, monitor the delivery of its objectives and uphold its values and governance.

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Media

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 media enquiries please email [email protected] or call our dedicated media line on 01753 727420.
For urgent out of hours media enquiries, please call our dedicated media line.
Please note the media line is strictly for media enquiries only.

Young woman at top of hill with arms in the air celebrating, overlayed with text that says Proud to be The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award in the UK
International reach

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.

History

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 has continued to grow, with over 130 countries and territories now offering DofE programmes as part of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation.

In 2020, young people stepped up and played an integral role in supporting communities across the UK to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. A remarkable 330,000 young people continued with their DofE activities – a huge force for good, dedicating 1.8 million hours of volunteering, equating to an investment of almost £8.5 million, to local communities at a time when they needed it most. DofE participants sewed PPE at their kitchen tables, delivered food parcels to those who needed them and put on virtual concerts for care homes.

As the UK recovers, the benefits that the DofE offers are more important than ever. Our new strategy puts the DofE at the heart of the national effort to back young people through the challenging years ahead.

Timeline
1956
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for boys started. The programme was made up of rescue and public service, expedition, pursuits and projects and fitness.
1957
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for girls is piloted. The programme consisted of design for living, adventure and interests and service.
1959
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award became a charitable Trust.
1969
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for young people aged 14 to 21 is launched.
1975
One million young people have now started their DofE programme.
1980
One programme for all young people is implemented. It consisted of service, expedition, skills, physical recreation and an additional residential project at Gold.
1986
HRH The Earl of Wessex achieved his Gold Award.
1988
The International Award Association is established.
2001
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh handed over Chairmanship of Trustees to Sir Tom Farmer but remains as Patron.
2004
Expedition section completely overhauled to be accessible for all.
2006
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award celebrates its 50th Anniversary and is awarded a Royal Charter.
2009
eDofE, the DofE’s online management system is launched.
2010
Independent research, supported by The Pears Foundation, is published which evidences the positive impact DofE has on young people who take part.
2016
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award celebrates 60 years and launches the DofE Diamond Challenge.
2016
HRH The Countess of Wessex cycled from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to Buckingham Palace as her DofE Diamond Challenge and raised over £100,000.
2017
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award launches the DofE Adventure, a chance for everyone aged 18+ to get a taste of an expedition whilst raising money for the charity.
2018
HRH The Earl of Wessex takes on the Tennis Challenge 2018, raising over £2m for the DofE in the UK and across the world by playing on every Real Tennis court worldwide.
2019
The DofE’s Diamond fund, comprised of Diamond Challenge fundraising and investment from the #iwill fund - a joint funding initiative from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department of Culture, Media & Sport - contributes to record-breaking numbers of disadvantaged young people starting their DofE in 2018/19: 68,774 (9% increase on the previous year).
2020
The DofE responds to the coronavirus pandemic, with young people dedicating 1.8 million hours of volunteering to their local communities.
2021
The DofE launches our new five year strategy, aiming to give more than one million young people the chance to participate in our life-changing programmes, over the next five years. After the tragic loss of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, the DofE is more determined than ever to ensure his legacy lives on through our life-changing work.