Bishop Walsh Catholic School
Bishop Walsh Catholic School in Birmingham first offered the DofE to its pupils in 2009, after recognising the opportunities for personal development that it offers young people.
Grant Huddleston, Head of Physical Education, put himself forward to set up and manage the DofE at the school and, five years on, the school has gone from one member of staff managing 14 Bronze participants in the first year, to three members of staff supporting over 130 Bronze, Silver and Gold participants this year.
Explaining how the DofE has grown so rapidly, Grant said: “We have been able to easily integrate the DofE into the school’s existing extracurricular activities by offering our pupils volunteering opportunities. Most of our after school sports clubs are refereed by Silver and Gold participants doing sports leadership for their Volunteering section; we have DofE participants supporting year seven Special Educational Needs students with their reading, others volunteering in the Dance and Drama department and some participants taking part in environmental projects with the school’s grounds men.”
Grant was a member of the teaching staff in the PE department when the DofE was first introduced and was keen to progress in his career, as he explained, “I saw managing the DofE as an opportunity to demonstrate my organisational and management skills to senior members of staff. When the Head of Department vacancy came up, it was my experience managing the DofE in the school that really demonstrated my capability to run a department. It definitely helped with my career progression.”
Speaking about the benefits of offering the DofE at the school, Grant said, “The DofE has had such a positive impact on the hundreds of individuals that have achieved their Awards while at Bishop Walsh Catholic School, as well as on the school itself. In particular, the volunteering activities that we offer in school have enabled our pupils to broaden their experiences, their soft skills and build their confidence, whilst also strengthening relationships across the whole school by bringing different year groups together in shared activities and working with teaching staff across the departments.”
Grant concluded, “The popularity of the DofE in our school and the huge numbers signing up each year is testament to DofE programmes; not only are they fun for all pupils and staff involved, they enable young people to try new activities and develop key life skills, which support them as they move on to college or the working world.”