The DofE network continues to expand
The primary aim of our charity is to support as many young people as possible to achieve the benefits of a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. This year 142,961 achieved their Bronze, Silver or Gold Award, an increase of 7.2% over the previous year. This is not only a record number for the DofE in the UK, and also within our family of international DofE organisations, we really are the world’s leading achievement award for young people.
The number of DofE Award new starters also hit a new high, with 275,988 starting either a Bronze, Silver or a Gold Award an increase of 1.7 % on last year.
Our online systems now let us see just how many participants are actively pursuing their Award at any time; and at our year-end there were 438,329 actively engaged in doing their DofE.
We have continued to grow our structure of Licensed Organisations over the year and now have 3,019, an increase of 16% year-on-year. This network of mainly directly licensed schools born out of the necessity, to fill the gap left by local authorities no longer able to support DofE delivery, has proved to be a remarkable success. Whilst we have capped our licence fees for this year and next, we have uplifted our investment in these schools and other youth organisations through training and funding support.
This financial investment has been principally through the efforts of our incredible supporters who took part in the Diamond Challenge Fundraiser boosted further with a £1m funding match from the #iWill fund in England and our own development funds in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. We started to receive applications in the reported year and expect to see the real beneficial impact of this funding in the current one.
The level of information we are now able to obtain through our online systems is helping us to identify the best Award delivery more clearly, and is highlighting the key role played by volunteer DofE Managers.
Our biggest challenge is to meet demand from young people by ensuring that we have the capacity to deliver in every school and group. The most effective DofE Managers are actively “managing” the DofE in their school or group, rather than simply “running” it. They have involved around them teams of volunteers – usually teaching colleagues, parents and past pupils – to deliver Award programme itself, while they ‘manage’ the DofE by orchestrating the activities and marshalling the resources to make it all possible.
This is a great skill set deserving of recognition and in the coming year, we’ll be working on a high level DofE Management programme linked to the professional development of teachers and other youth work professionals. We aim for this to set the standard, and to reward exceptional skills and delivery.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was launched in May 2018, reinforcing legislation from the Data Protection Act 1998 and introducing new privacy rules to protect people’s data. As we already held the Data Security Standard ISO 27001, the main implication for the DofE was to ensure we used people’s contact details only for the purpose for which they had been supplied to us.
Therefore, before GDPR, we updated our privacy policies and procedures, asked our audiences to opt-in to receiving marketing (non-programme) content via email and clarified to staff our approach to data protection.