A message from the DofE’s CEO to our licence signatories
Hello, my name is Ruth Marvel and I’m the CEO of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. As you wrap up this unprecedented school year and prepare for the next, I know you have a huge amount to think about – and, understandably, the DofE might not be front of mind.
But – as you navigate the challenges of returning to our ‘new normal’ and help your young people transition back to the routines of school and daily life after lockdown I wanted to reach out and remind you that the DofE can help.
The coronavirus pandemic has put young people’s studies, work and social lives on hold, and its longer–term impact threatens their future education and employment opportunities.
It’s affected their mental health. And, for some, it’s heightened inequalities that jeopardise both their short and long-term life chances.
The DofE can help young people recover and rebuild after this difficult period, providing a simple framework to help young people develop their skills, confidence and re-establish vital social relationships, as a complement to their academic studies.
The DofE can fit around your priorities and needs. As face-to-face contact is likely to remain limited in the autumn, DofE programmes can provide at least three hours each week of structured, self-directed activity – keeping students engaged and active as you manage smaller groups and classes, remote learning, staggered breaks or rotating timetables.
DofE programmes also support young people’s mental and physical health. As they return this autumn, working towards an Award will help them safely expand their worlds again, reconnecting with peers and helping to rejuvenate the school environment by incentivising young people to volunteer and support peers and younger children.
Through the DofE young people will encounter people, activities and opinions outside their immediate circle, enjoy new experiences and broaden their horizons. And they’ll develop new skills, confidence, adaptability and resilience that will help them navigate the challenging times ahead.
As you’ll know, DofE Awards are also highly respected by employers and can open doors when applying for further education or jobs. And – as many inspiring participants have shown in recent months – it helps young people become active citizens, giving back to their communities too.
We’re committed to helping you give as many young people as possible the chance to do their DofE. But the need for this intervention is greatest for disadvantaged young people many of whom have been hardest hit by the pandemic’s effects.
For young people living in poverty, those with special educational needs and disabilities, and those who are marginalised and at risk, the DofE is an accessible development tool, with low – or no-cost activities that can be done from home or in the community.
And, when they achieve, they gain a respected and internationally-recognised Award that can help level the playing field.
I’ve included some case studies with this message to show how schools have used DofE with different groups of students to demonstrate the flexibility and impact of programmes on those young people who are most marginalised.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the DofE has created a wealth of resources to help participants continue their programmes from home and while socially distancing.
We know that Leaders will face inevitable challenges delivering expeditions – so we’ve introduced flexibilities to help you adapt the format and offer a range of expedition experiences once it’s safe to do so.
And, for young people who simply won’t get to do an expedition this year, we’ve launched the 2020 DofE Certificate of Achievement to formally recognise everything they’ve achieved through their Skills, Volunteering and Physical sections.
We’re hosting virtual support sessions, have moved Leader training online and we’re developing the recruitment tools Leaders need to encourage young people to start their DofE journey.
Like you, the DofE is invested in young people and we are committed to working with you to support young people’s development and help them successfully navigate the challenging times ahead.
If you would like support to create a tailored DofE delivery plan for your centre, or explore how the DofE might be used to benefit your young people, please do not hesitate to get in touch with your local DofE Operations team. We’re here to help.