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Case study: Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Expeditions in Independent Schools

The DofE is synonymous with personal development and achievements beyond the classroom. It has become a well recognised benchmark of personal achievement and individual excellence, providing a permanent record of a young person’s journey of self discovery and development.

Addventure Awards Ltd. were approached some 10 years ago by a prestigious Independent Grammar School for Boys in Yorkshire to support and further develop their DofE expedition program. Following a review of their existing provision and discussion on intended goals and future objectives a plan was developed and implemented. This plan caters for approximately 100 new candidates per annum.

A contracted coach operator provides late afternoon transport from the school to a residential outdoor centre within a national park. Students eat and sleep at the centre; supervised by school staff overnight. Bronze expedition training commences 9am the following morning. Training is delivered in expedition groups on a round robin basis, with the groups visiting four training stations during the day:

  • First Aid,
  • Campcraft,
  • Tents,
  • The 20 conditions and equipment. 

Following their evening meal, all candidates present themselves for a pre-expedition kit check and weigh–in.  The Bronze groups sleep on-site, enjoy a cooked breakfast and then depart with a mountain leader for a full day of practical navigation training on the hill, eventually arriving at their remote campsite.  The following morning, they are expected to self motivate, strike camp and undertake an un-accompanied expedition back to the outdoor centre, before travelling home by coach.

Silver expeditions are run concurrently with Bronze, candidates travel together on the same coach, upon arrival at the centre, tents are distributed: and the Silvers camp on site. The following morning, after breakfast, groups are allocated a mountain leader, route cards are checked and they depart in their respective expedition groups for a practical navigation day, arriving at separate campsites. Days 2 and 3 are unaccompanied expedition days, with overnight camps in remote locations. All groups are remotely supervised during these expeditions, with a brief meeting early each evening.

The coach returns on the third day, taking the first cohort back home and returning with the second cohort, the whole exercise is repeated over the next 3 days. Gold candidates arrive on the first coach, departing on their expedition the following morning with a mountain leader who will review their route cards and navigational abilities. All concerns are highlighted and addressed before allowing the group to implement their plans with minimal intervention over the next few days.

Following the success of the Boys School expedition program, the Girls School of this Education Foundation requested a review of their DofE expedition training program. This was completed some 5 years ago, resulting in a totally different outcome, to suit their specific requirements.

Training is delivered to Bronze candidates, it comprises a program of six 75 minute sessions delivered as an after school club, with an accompanying work booklet.  Practical topics are then delivered during a full day outdoor session at the school sports facility. The practice and qualifying expeditions are supervised and administered by school staff.