24.09.2020 By Arran Templeton

Our ‘new normal’ sees the introduction of the DofE Certificate of Achievement

The initial COVID-19 outbreak changed the way we went about our lives; how we exercised, socialised, learned, and worked was transformed overnight. Country-wide lockdowns meant young people went through a period of learning virtually from home and could no longer attend youth services and clubs.
Naturally, this became a challenging period for those doing their DofE. Young people were concerned about how to complete their sections, when their expeditions would take place and how they would be able to achieve their Award.

To ensure that COVID-19 didn’t stop anyone from continuing with their programme, the DofE introduced various temporary programme changes.

The DofE prides itself on being a ‘blended learning’ model –DofE programmes can be completed alongside other commitments such as school and hobbies. We also promoted various temporary programme flexibilities to allow young people to continue their DofE through these uncertain times and to recognise their efforts in the process. We introduced:

– Advice for how to complete the Volunteering, Physical and Skills sections safely online, at home and whilst following Government guidelines.

– The DofE Certificate of Achievement.

– A variety of temporary expedition flexibilities.

Regular updates and advice for participants, parents and Leaders can be found here.

These temporary changes to the DofE programme have been paramount to enabling young people to continue benefitting from the DofE during COVID-19. Now is a very critical time for young peoples’ mental health and through the DofE, they’ve continued to have the opportunity to expand their horizons, connect with their local community and environment as part of their sectional activities.

What impact have these changes had?

June Ford, Assistant Community Partnership Manager (Youth Work) shares how the DofE temporary programme changes made a positive difference for young people in North Lanarkshire. She said,
“The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a core element of the North Lanarkshire Community Learning and Development Youth Work Delivery Plan. The DofE provides a framework for young people to capture their personal experiences and achievements that, in turn, improves mental health, attainment and active citizenship.

North Lanarkshire CLD has an excellent track record of young people achieving Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards with a particular focus on young people who are involved in community-based youth work and young people who may face more barriers to participation as a result of poverty-related issues.

COVID–19 has created many challenges, but the temporary flexibilities to DofE programmes have enabled young people to still carry on with their DofE during these very difficult circumstances and, for some, been a lifeline to their peer group, community and a relationship with a trusted adult such as our CLD Youth Work staff. During COVID-19, 42 Awards were achieved and over 80 DofE Certificates of Achievement presented and, as we enter the youth work recovery phase, CLD Youth Workers will continue to support current DofE participants in the community and with schools as well as create new and innovative ways to engage with young people new to the DofE.”

To continue supporting young people to access and participate in the DofE we’re encouraging all LOs and Centres to make use of the new DofE recruitment and delivery toolkit resources. These resources have been designed to make it easier to promote the DofE to potential participants and support them on their DofE journey.

The DofE Certificate of Achievement is an official recognition of just how much participants have accomplished by completing their Volunteering, Physical and Skills sections during these challenging times. We want them to be recognised for their amazing efforts and achievements even if social distancing, personal circumstances or other challenges mean it’s not possible for them to do an expedition and/or residential at Gold, and therefore achieve their Award, over the next year. The DofE Certificate of Achievement celebrates and recognise their dedication to their programmes and everything they’ve achieved through these three sections, as well as their resilience in coping with ongoing uncertainty.

We understand that Leaders may have lots of questions on how to implement the temporary programme flexibilities with their groups; please do ask your Operations Officer for any assistance you may need.

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