Chairman’s Report 2016
I began my report last year by describing it as the most challenging in our recent history. This year has been equally tough but I am delighted to inform you that our Charity has responded magnificently, enabling a record number of young people to start their DofE programme, a record number to achieve their Award and record numbers of disadvantaged, at risk and marginalised young people to engage with the personal challenge of their own DofE programme.
Key to this success has been forging ahead with our Directly Licensed Centre (DLC) strategy whilst continuing to work closely with local authorities to get the best out of each local set of circumstances. This flexible response has enabled us to maintain and grow DofE activity right across the UK.
Building our capacity to handle all of this has required significant investment in additional employed staff, resources, IT and training over the past three years in particular. This year, I believe, demonstrates the effectiveness of that investment.
A record 253,005 young people started their DofE programme in the year, a 6% increase on last year and breaking through a quarter of a million new participants for the first time. Importantly, a record 41,667 of these were young people identified as being disadvantaged, at risk or marginalised: these are the individuals that we know derive the greatest benefit from their DofE experience. Our objective to have 20% of our young participants being drawn from disadvantaged communities was given a significant boost in the year as The Queen’s Trust made a further commitment to support our developments in the North of England.
Some of those young people will have completed their programme in the same year they started it but for many progressing their programme continues across two or possibly more years. This means that at any time there are around 300,000 young people involved in their DofE programme. This year, another record 119,892 participants completed their programme and achieved their ambition of a Bronze, Silver or Gold DofE Award. This, I believe, is testament to the continuing improvement in the quality of the support provided by our network and the ability we now have to monitor each participant’s progress. We have received consistent high level support from Pears Foundation that has given DofE the confidence to focus on supporting young people over the line to completion.
The expanding DofE Network
The pace of change for our Charity shows in the growth in the number of Licensed Organisations that make up our network. We closed the year with 1,822 Licensed Organisations: an increase of 42% on the previous year, which was itself a 41% increase on the year before that. These Licensed Organisations (LOs) range from a single school through to Local Authorities and national youth organisations such as the Scouts, Guides, ATC and many more. Within these LOs, there are 13,218 DofE Centres and within each of the Centres there will be several groups undertaking their DofE at different levels. This requires support from around 50,000 volunteer and professional leaders right across the UK.
It is undoubtedly the key ingredient in the enduring success of the DofE that engagement in the programme by both adult volunteers and young people is such an attractive proposition despite the high demands it makes on both.
I want to say thank you to everyone involved in making the DofE experience a reality for so many young people of the UK. My fellow Trustees and I are very grateful indeed but, more importantly, as I meet the young people you have helped, I know that they appreciate and value it most highly too.
In recent times we have recognised the influence a DofE Award can have on an employer’s view of a potential employee. We have continued to build on our Lifezone website and, in our Diamond Anniversary year, have launched our “Skills for Work” campaign supported by British Gas. This campaign was launched towards the end of the reported year with the aims of recording the commitment of 100 employers who recognise the advantage a DofE Award gives to a young person and the essential personal skills they believe a DofE Award represents. We are already very confident that we will exceed our original 100 employer target.
eDofE and related IT developments
I am delighted to report that a successful launch of version 3 of eDofE was delivered in the year. Not only has the system been overhauled but the support infrastructure and ability to maintain the system has been upgraded too. We now enjoy a high level of confidence in the system and, most importantly, our ability to develop it further to deliver even better management and support of DofE activity. We are indebted to the Gosling Foundation for their unfailing support for our IT developments, enabling us to invest in these important on-line systems.
Age range pilot
A highly significant development launched this year, with the encouragement and support of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award network, is the piloting of an extension of our lower age ranges at Bronze and Silver to accommodate whole school year groups. There has been a positive response to this initiative which will enable leaders in schools and out of school to offer the DofE to young people who would in the past have been excluded from taking part with their year group cohort because they are just below the lower age limit for their level. I hope to announce a significant take-up of this opportunity in my report next year.
Our financial position I can confirm remains a major strength, allowing us to plan for future growth with a high degree of confidence.
Our income this year increased by £2.4m or 21% to £13.9m, enabling us to increase our total expenditure by £1.3m to £12.8m.
Investment values declined by £0.4m in the year, reflecting adverse stock market movements and volatility, but the cumulative gains over the last three years are still in line with our investment strategy and targeted returns.
The overall financial result was a positive net movement in funds of £0.7m. This was a strong performance, in line with the previous year.
Diamond celebrations launched
We launched our Diamond Anniversary celebrations towards the end of the reported year. Our 60th anniversary provides a wonderful platform to celebrate the Charity’s astonishing achievements and set out our ambitions for the future. We have received tremendous support from our donors and in particular from our Diamond Headline supporters, Amey, British Gas, RSM and Heathrow Airport. Next year’s review will of course report in more detail. As we launch into our 61st year, it is not inappropriate to reflect on the foresight, tenacity and energy of our Founder, Prince Philip for creating, sustaining and inspiring such an extraordinary movement that has simply become part of our way of life, our heritage and proven to be one of those “Best of British” creations.
Our Diamond ambition is that we should engage another two million young people in the DofE by 2020-21. To achieve that we will have to accelerate the pace of our growth and development. We plan for the Diamond celebrations’ success to drive both our motivation and our finances to enable us to fulfil this ambition. We appreciate it will require considerable investment in people and facilities to recruit, train and support the thousands of volunteers that will be required and support those young people less able to fund their DofE involvement.
The year ahead marks the end of our current five year strategic horizon. We have already set ambitious growth targets for the next five years and are working on clear plans to achieve them.
Whilst we could not have foreseen the changes and challenges of the past five years, the enduring nature of our programme, our robust organisational structure, the professionalism of the staff team and the inspiring leadership of our volunteers have together enabled us to take a course that has greatly strengthened our Charity.
I am very confident in our ability to respond positively to whatever the future holds, ensuring that our volunteers are motivated, organised and supported to help even more young people to excel through their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award experience.
The Lord Kirkham CVO
Chair of Trustees
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award