Duke of Edinburgh

Are you able to meet the challenge?

The Windsor Boys School - Duke Of EdinburghThere are three Awards: Bronze, Silver and Gold, and they are highly respected by employers as they show you have achieved something more than just academic qualifications. To gain an award you need to complete four sections (plus a fifth at gold: a Residential Project.)

1. Physical recreation (i.e. a sport or a physical activity). This must be done for an hour a week (or two half hours) over a sustained period, e.g. training for and playing in the hockey team, learning to scuba dive, judo, dance etc. It has to be extra-curricular (so P.E. lessons don’t count).

2. Volunteering (Service). This should average at least an hour a week, but could be two hours fortnightly. It will involve some training as well as some practical service. E.g. you might do a first aid course (once a week for 8 weeks) and then volunteer to be a casualty in training exercises for the St John’s Ambulance. (Saturday mornings every other weekend for a month); or spend every other Saturday morning helping sort out the second hand clothes at Oxfam, having spent the first week learning how to grade those that can be sold from those that will have to be sent for recycling. Provided it is voluntary (unpaid) service within the community more or less anything can be done for this section.

3. Skill.  This can be a skill you already follow, but want to become more proficient at, or it can be something completely new.  Again it should involve an average of an hour a week and the possibilities are vast – but it mustn’t be something that would count as a physical activity, so you could do fishing or bush craft/survival but not croquet or horse riding.  Sometimes your skill may compliment one of the other sections, so navigation would compliment sailing, and may well lead you to doing a waterborne expedition.
The length of time you need to spend on each section depends on the level of the Award you are trying to get, so Bronze can be done in just six months, whereas a Gold award takes at least a year. You must complete the awards before your 25th birthday.

4. Train for, plan and then go on an expedition during which you complete a project. Your group (4-7 candidates) must be self-sufficient i.e. you have to carry everything with you: tents, stoves, food, … everything. You can do this on foot, or in canoes, or in rowing boats, or on mountain bikes, … but not using motorised vehicles of any sort.
Typically a Yr9 student starts their Bronze Award as soon as they reach their 14th birthday, but we do not do the expedition training until the start of Yr10. This will consist of a long weekend mid September in the Chiltern Hills, about 20 miles north of Windsor, where you will be taught how to pitch a tent, cook meals on Trangia stoves, and how to navigate across the countryside using a map and compass. Then in October you will get together with your group to plan and do your assessed expedition, usually around the Marlow area.

What does it cost?

That depends.  If you need to do it as cheaply as possible then it can be minimal, and indeed grants are available for a lot of activities. The equipment that you need for the expedition can be borrowed, and the activities that you choose for the other three sections needn’t cost anything, so other than registering with the school group and getting your log book (£40) and the food/camp fees for the expeditions (£40ish) that’s it. However, to be realistic, you’re going to want:

  • Sleeping bag    £20+
  • Ruck sack (75litre minimum)  £30+
  • Walking boots    £40+
  • Waterproofs    £30
  • Sleeping mat    £10
  • Plastic cup/bowl/cutlery
  • Water bottle

So you could be looking for £150 for the expedition kit – but if you plan to go through to Gold it will be worth buying good equipment now, which will cost a lot more.

To get a Bronze award you must be 14 and complete these four sections

Volunteering Physical Skills Expedition
3 Months 3 Months 3 Months Plan, train for and complete a 2 day, 1 night expedition
You must undertake a further 3 months in the volunteering, Physical or Skills section.

 To get a Silver Award you must be 15 and complete these 4 sections

Volunteering Physical Skills Expedition
6 Months One section for 6 months and the other section for 3 months Plan, train for and complete a 3 day, 2 night expedition
Direct entrants must undertake a further 6 months in the Volunteering or the longer of the Physical or Skills section

 To get a Gold Award you must be 16 and complete these 5 sections

Volunteering Physical Skills Expedition Residential
12 Months One section for 12 months and the other section for 6 months Plan, train for and complete a 4 day, 3 night expedition. Undertake a shared activity in a residential setting away from home for 5 days and 4 nights
Direct entrants must undertake a further 6 months in the Volunteering or the longer of the Physical or Skills section.

 For more details log-on to: www.DofE.org