Seven ways to kick-start your DofE activities
With the autumn term well underway and the summer break now but a distant memory, this time of year can be stressful, hectic yet exciting for DofE Leaders. Not only are you adjusting to new classes of students, you’re also recruiting and setting up DofE programmes for a fresh intake of participants. Preparation is key – there’s nothing like kick-starting the new school year ready and raring to go. Here are top seven tips from fellow Leaders to help you plan and organise your activities so you can get back into the swing of all things DofE.
1. Spread the word – Create a prominent DofE noticeboard to publicise DofE announcements and achievements, as well as a DofE area on your school’s website. Building a positive image of the DofE in this way will help to encourage non-participants, fellow teachers and other staff to get involved, and ensure your activities are supported throughout the year.
2. Create the perfect pitch – Promoting DofE programmes to pupils at the start of the year is essential in order to generate interest. You can do this in many ways, depending on your situation. For example, you can announce it over the school’s loudspeaker system or intranet; create posters and flyers using the Brand Centre; and use current participants or recent Award holders to act as ambassadors. They could give talks, run Q&A sessions, or create films or photo displays sharing their DofE experiences. You might also find our ‘Do your DofE’ promotional video helpful to use in assemblies.
3. Make contact – Invite parents to an information event that covers all aspects of a DofE programme and introduce them to the key resources that will support their son or daughter, including eDofE, the participant Welcome Pack and the LifeZone. If you have already decided on dates for expeditions and training, you can announce them here too.
4. Mind the gap – Carry out an audit of your existing volunteers. List all the roles and tasks you need to support your DofE delivery over the coming year. Put names under these roles and identify any gaps that need filling; you can then target your volunteer recruitment to these.
5. Think outside the box – Put up a list of vacant roles in the staff room and perhaps consider recruiting support from outside the school. Take a look at the Volunteer Management Toolkit for more support with recruitment or use the DofE’s Do-it.org account to advertise (email [email protected] to request a login). External funders or supporters, including school governors, might consider donating their time to support your groups, so try approaching them with smaller roles or tasks at first in order to engage them.
6. Reflect on the past – Produce a report from the previous year’s DofE successes, as well as the resources you’ll require from the upcoming year. This will help to demonstrate the positive impact of your DofE activities on the whole school and encourage continued support for your work.
7. Plan ahead – Submit expedition dates to your school’s central calendar as soon as they have been confirmed. Remember: these could be scheduled Friday to Saturday instead of over a full weekend, or during an ‘activities or enrichment week’ at the end of the summer term.
Do you have your own back to school tip you think other Leaders could use to help them plan their DofE activities for the year ahead? We’d love to hear them! Take a look at our new and improved Schools’ Calendar for more ideas and to start sharing your best DofE advice.