news 8 May 2024

More young people than ever started their DofE in 2023/24 as charity continues to widen access and remove barriers to participation

More than 330,000 young people started their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) in 2023/24, the charity’s annual statistics reveal – with participants giving a huge 4.7 million hours of volunteering in communities all over the UK. 

The numbers, published today, break the charity’s participation records for the third year running. They show that more than 545,000 young people are currently working towards a DofE Award across the UK, with 30% of 14-year-olds starting their Bronze DofE last year. 

The figures signal the end of the third year of the DofE’s five-year strategy which aims to break down barriers and open up access for all young people. With the support of its funders and partners, the charity is working with more community organisations, schools in deprived areas, prisons, and centres supporting young people with special educational needs and disabilities. It is also offering targeted financial support to organisations and young people who face financial barriers to taking part. 


The annual statistics show that: 

  • Participants gave 4,725,825 hours of volunteering in their communities – a huge increase of 33 per cent on the previous year and equivalent to £24,952,356 in paid working hours. 
  • 30% of 14-year-olds in the UK started their Bronze DofE. 
  • The number of young people starting their Gold DofE jumped by a huge 16.6% 
  • The total number of DofE Awards achieved increased by 7% to more than 155,000.   
  • The DofE is continuing to reach more marginalised young people, with 50,277 young people living in the UK’s most deprived areas (IMD 1-3), 88,530 young people from ethnic minority backgrounds and 25,691 with additional needs starting their Award in 2023/24. 
  • The number of Licensed Organisations delivering the DofE has increased by 245 (up by 5%) – including 159 new secondary schools, 109 centres supporting young people with SEND, 58 new community organisations, 19 new further education colleges and six new prisons and other secure settings. 
  • An amazing 39,457 Leaders and volunteers kept the charity’s work going, supporting young people to overcome their own challenges and achieve their personal goals.
  • The DofE invested £3,131,000 to support young people and organisations that otherwise would not have been in a position to participate in the Award.


Ruth Marvel, CEO of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said: “More young people than ever are doing their DofE, with rising numbers taking on the challenge of a Gold Award. These stats show that opportunities like these, offering experiences and skills young people often can’t get in classrooms and textbooks are increasingly wanted and needed by today’s young people, with all the challenges and uncertainties they face.  

“With the support of our incredible volunteers, partners and supporters, we’re making excellent progress against our ambitious goal to give every young person the chance to do their DofE – but a lot more needs to be done if we’re to give every young person a fair chance to achieve what they’re capable of. That’s why we’re calling for the next government to introduce an enrichment guarantee, so all young people can benefit from out-of-school activities like DofE, regardless of their income or where they live.” 

As young people navigate an ongoing cost-of-living crisis, anxiety about the future and a youth mental health emergency, opportunities like the DofE provide a safe environment where they can strive for achievement, overcome obstacles and set their minds to a personal challenge.

Whatever their ability, interest or background, the DofE gives young people the chance to take on their own challenges, grow in self-belief, discover talents and passions, and gain vital skills they can’t get in a classroom.


Since 2021, when its Youth Without Limits strategy was launched, the charity has: 

  • Enabled more schools in England to begin running the DofE – offering grant funding and tailored support, thanks to the Department for Education (DfE) and Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
  • Expanded provision in prisons and young offender institutions in partnership with HM Prison and Probation Service. 
  • Started an ambitious project to support more community and voluntary organisations to run the DofE by offering grant funding, training and tailored support, thanks to funding from Julia and Hans Rausing.
  • Led by DCMS and DfE, started to deliver a pioneering Enrichment Partnerships Pilot (EPP) with NCS Trust, aiming to give thousands more young people the chance to participate in high quality enrichment activities. 
  • With the support of funders, launched targeted funds offering tailored financial support to marginalised young people and the organisations supporting them. 


In the coming year, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award will continue to support more secondary schools, youth justice settings and community organisations to run the DofE, and take more action to support organisations and young people facing financial barriers – including by offering tailored financial support through Licensed Organisations, to the young people who need it most.

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