Starting off the term on the right foot – feeling bright, confident and ready to take on new groups of participants – will stand your Licensed Organisation (LO) or DofE centre in good stead for the rest of the academic year. To help you manage your time and budget, set goals and stay on a path to success, we’ve pulled together tips shared by DofE Managers and Leaders in schools on how to plan and get organised.
Apply for additional funding
With school budgets becoming increasingly stretched, consider identifying additional sources of funding. For example, Pupil Premium, open to schools in England, is aimed at raising the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and closing the gap between them and their peers. Check with senior management in your school on how this funding is being spent – you could use it to offer pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds the chance to start their DofE.
High Needs Funding is intended to offer the most suitable support package for young people with special educational needs and disabilities in a range of settings. Speak to your school’s SEN co-ordinator for advice on how to apply for the funding from your local council.
There are several grants that may be relevant to your LO or centre, such as local funding opportunities, Children In Need and Gift Your Gear. Don’t forget to submit your requests and bids, emphasising the impact and benefit of the DofE on your pupils, teachers and school as validation.
Create a DofE calendar
The autumn term is always a busy one – with Halloween, bonfire night and Christmas celebrations and much more to contend with. Don’t let your DofE groups fall behind. Create a calendar, either online or printed, recording all your important forthcoming DofE activities.
This calendar could include dates for information evenings, meetings, drop-in sessions, training courses and expedition dates. Share it with your volunteers and key staff so that they’re informed and can avoid clashes with other activities, such as exam periods. This will also help you demonstrate to senior staff the time and resources required to support DofE delivery.
Using your DofE calendar, list the actions you’ll need to take for each activity – such as booking camp sites, distributing Welcome Packs, sending letters to parents etc. This will also help you work out where you might need additional support.
Promote DofE programmes
Promoting DofE programmes to students at the start of the year is essential. You want to engage and excite whole year groups and ensure everyone has the opportunity to participate.
Play the video we’ve developed with The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. You could also create resources on the Brand Centre, adding your own logo and pictures. Put these where young people congregate or walk past, e.g. busy corridors and use current participants or recent Award holders as ambassadors.
Introduce parents to the DofE
To help get new parents on your side and understand the significance of their child achieving a DofE Award, invite them to an information event.
Outline DofE requirements, give timescales and set expectations of commitment levels and costs. Provide clear examples of where they’ll need to support their child and describe the resources available to support their child, e.g. eDofE, the Welcome Pack, the LifeZone and the DofE Card. If you’ve decided on dates for expeditions etc., you can announce them at this event
Recruit new volunteers
September offers an opportunity to recruit volunteers to support your participants. New teachers are a great group to engage.
Remind teachers that DofE activities will help them build better relationships with their pupils outside the classroom and can support their personal development. It can help them gain new skills and provide leadership opportunities. See our Volunteer Management Toolkit for more support with recruitment.
Set up a resource hub for volunteers
It’s important that your team feels enthusiastic, appreciated and well informed. Happy volunteers help make the DofE successful in your school.
To motivate your volunteers, set up an online hub of resources, such as leaflets and activity sheets. This can be on your shared folder system or in a closed/secret Facebook group, which might also work well as a place for vital discussions, arranging expedition dates and sharing best practice.
Do you need more help in organising your DofE activities this year? Visit the Schools’ Calendar for lots of tips and ideas from DofE Managers and Leaders. And don’t forget to add your own!