“You are not comparing yourself with anyone, you are not competing with anyone, what you are actually doing is creating yourself.”
– Brendan Kennelly, Poet and President’s Award Leader
The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is the world’s leading youth achievement award, bringing together practical experiences and life skills to equip young people for life. Since it was founded in 1956 by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh (husband to Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom), over eight million young people have participated in the Award in over 140 countries and territories. Schools, colleges, universities, employers, social clubs, youth organisations, such as the Scouts, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides, young offenders’ institutions, religious organisations, sports clubs and more all run the Award.
DESC is very proud to offer the prestigious International Award (better known as the Duke of Edinburgh award in the UK) to all of its students in Year 10 to Year 13. It is an award that is closely aligned with the values of the school particularly in terms of equipping our students with the key skills of resilience, independence, collaboration, enterprise and innovation. The award is facilitated by our in-house fully trained expert- Mr Ford – who oversees and encourages the students to complete all parts of the award and progress from Bronze through to Gold.
For many students the highlight of each stage of the award is the expedition where the students must refine their camping skills and co-operate to navigate unforgiving terrain and expand their horizons. In 2015/16 these excursions included overnight stays in locations as diverse as Cyprus and Scotland. The expeditions are rewarding and challenging in equal measure. Independence and commitment are also paramount and cannot be underestimated in terms of successfully completing a stage of the award. Each student sets their own goals and records their own progress. The only person they compete against is themselves, by challenging their own beliefs about what they can achieve. Alongside the ‘trip’ students must also refine a skill, initiate and sustain an act of service and exert themselves in a physical discipline. The entire process is reflective and teaches our students to refine their skills and equips them with lifelong learning.
The further benefits we have seen for our students ensures that the programme is given the platform it deserves and what makes it popular year after year. Those that take part develop further self-confidence and a self-motivating attitude that transcends into the classroom. They also hone their skills of research, problem solving and presentation which can be applied to almost any situation. For our KS5 students’, having an International Award on their UCAS application or CV proves their willingness to try new things; their self-motivating attitude and their connection to broader society. These are all held in high esteem by potential Universities or employers.
Despite the emphasis on self-motivation, our students are supported and mentored throughout the process. The award body itself recognises the importance of this aspect which they suggest plays a significant role in inspiring students to finish all parts of the award: service, skill, physical recreation, adventurous journey and residential.
This section of the award provides our students with a sense of worth from having given service and help to others and their community. The opportunity to give service over an extended period of time also enables them to witness and experience the benefits that service provides to others and encourages them to become better global citizens. Other benefits of the Service part of the award include our students improving their: tolerance, compassion, leadership, satisfaction and commitment. This year students took part in service activities throughout the Gulf working with a range of environmental, charity and emergency services.
The Skill section provides our students with the opportunity to either improve on an existing skill, or to try something new. As with other sections, a level of commitment over time to progress in their Skill leads to a sense of achievement and well-being. Other benefits of the Skill part of the award include our students improving their: time management, self-confidence and self-motivation. This year students took part in skills in the fields of music, sport and games. Learning a new musical instrument or a new language are always popular choices.
Encouraging healthy behaviours has benefits, not only for students but for their communities, whether through improved health, or active participation in team activities. The Physical Recreation section therefore specifically aims to improve the health, team skills, self-esteem and confidence of our students. Other benefits of the Physical Recreation part of the Award include our students improving their: fitness, perseverance and self-discipline. This year students took part in Physical Recreation in areas as diverse as ball sports, athletics, water sports and martial arts.
The opportunity to engage in adventurous activities in a new environment provides our students with the chance to learn more about their wider environment, as well as develop their self-confidence, teamwork and health. The Adventurous Journey section aims to take our students out of their comfort zone but within a safe and secure setting achieved through sustained training and supervision led by Mr Ford. Other benefits of the Adventurous Journey part of the Award include our students discovering: a spirit of adventure, self-reliance, group dynamics and independence. This year the Bronze students camped overnight in Dubai, the Silver students went for a week to Cyprus and the Gold trekked across Scotland. All who took part thoroughly enjoyed and embraced the challenge.
Residential Project (Gold)
The Residential Project is generally the last activity that participants undertake during their Award due to it being required to complete their Gold. It is also an opportunity to use many of the skills developed during the overall experience such as teamwork and leadership. This year our Gold students have completed Residential Projects throughout the world in a number of capacities, most notably environmental and conservational projects. We have found that this part of the award has a particularly lasting impact on our students and therefore provide both experience and legacy in equal measure.
Overall the philosophy of the Award and its impact on our students is immeasurable. It provides them with a further framework to develop their life skills and enables them to deal with the challenges that life provides: essentially the Award aids in providing them with the resilience to succeed in life.
International On-Line Record Book
To read the Participant User Guide, please click HERE