4 January 2024

College creates well-structured DofE programme within a supported learning environment


The team at Bridgwater Taunton College, Somerset, have established a full Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) programme within their Further Education setting.

Fronted by DofE Leaders Ellen Hawken and Alison Stokes, the programme is benefitting their students and participants are and gaining huge enjoyment from taking part in their DofE.

Ellen, DofE Leader, said: “As a group of young people, our students are often overlooked and lack confidence in themselves and their abilities. Taking part in the DofE really made them proud and proved that they could do anything they chose to put their minds to. At the beginning of the year most of the students were unable to cook for themselves and lacked the knowledge and skills needed for employment.”

“The students took part in DofE to promote independence and develop their knowledge and skills within a practical setting. Students were able to develop their confidence and communication skills, whilst also working towards their own aspirations and personal targets.”

“All returning students are now embarking on the next level of DofE. Some students have begun to cook at home as they feel more confident. Others have used the railway as they were lucky enough to get a free pass due to their hard work and dedication.”

“The students really enjoyed the expedition and putting up the tents. The challenges that came with the map reading and the walking were offset by the use of the camping stoves to make hot chocolate.”


The activities the students chose for their awards included cooking, yoga and horse riding, with participants completing their Volunteering sections at West Somerset Railway, Conquest Centre for Disabled Riders and local charity shops.

One of the college’s participants, Harry, who has completed his Bronze Award, believes that the DofE helps people to move outside of their comfort zones.


Harry said: “When I first joined college, I was nervous because I’m not good at socializing with new people, but I gave it a try and now I have new friends. DofE has taught me that being part of a community is well worth it.”

“I have enjoyed testing my limits and making friends. I can now cook different things. My favourite thing to cook has been sausage rolls. They tasted better than the ones from Tesco!”

Ellen said: “Through the completion of the DofE the participants have triumphed and progressed their skills so that they are now able to cook simple meals and complete tasks independently. Several of our students now have independent work placements, without the DofE they may not have had this opportunity or the ability to hold down a successful placement.”

“We have been a flagship for the college’s SEND area. Other groups are now taking part in the DofE and feel confident to do so, due to our success. Our presence within the community has increased, with the group being invited to take part in community events like the tree planting. Ali and I have also presented in front of other DofE leaders at the regional meeting.”

“We are so proud of our students and what they have been able to achieve.”

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