The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a nationally recognised qualification for young people in the UK. It involves a challenging programme of activities designed to encourage students to learn new skills, help others and experience adventure.

Employers and universities see the award as evidence of a student’s positive commitment and qualities.

At Cirencester Sixth Form College, students have the opportunity to sign up for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award or the Silver Award designed for young people aged 16-25 years of age.

The expedition section, which all students are interested in, have taken our DofE students to many places including for the:

  • Silver Award

    • The Peak District
    • Exmoor
    • Dartmoor
  • Gold Award

    • The Lake District,
    • North Wales,
    • The Brecon Beacons
  • A Silver DofE programme has 4 sections, Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition.  You need to do at least 6 months Volunteering and a minimum of 6 months on either Physical or Skills and 3 months on the other. It’s up to you which one you do for longer.
  • If you did Bronze, you can choose the same activity for Silver, but you need to show development in it.  It’s best to try something new!
  • The Expedition section involves planning, training for and doing a 3 day (2 night) expedition.
  • If you start your Silver without doing Bronze first you’ll have to do an extra 6 months volunteering or doing whichever of the Physical or Skills sections you have spent more time on.  Though you can change your mind later, you should decide which section you want to do for longer at the beginning.  Knowing how long you’re going to do it for will help you to choose your activity and set your goals for each section.
  • It will take you at least 6 months for Silver if you’ve already achieved your Bronze, or 12 months if you’ve jumped straight into Silver.
  • Once you are 16 you can do your Gold DofE programme.  No activities can be counted for this before your 16th birthday.
  • If you did a previous level, you can choose the same activity for Gold, but you need to show development in it.  It’s best to try something new!
  • You’ll spend 12 months on your Volunteering section.  For Physical and Skills you must spend 12 months on one and six months on the other – you decide which way round you do it.
  • Your expedition will be for four days and three nights (plus an acclimatisation day) and should take place in ‘wild country’.
  • The big difference at Gold is you’ll also do a Residential section – staying away from home for five days and four nights doing a shared activity with people you don’t know.  It’s great fun and a real chance to do something different!
  • If you’ve jumped straight into your Gold DofE programme you’ll need to do a further six months either volunteering or whichever one of your physical or skills activities you spent the most time on.
  • For Gold, you’ll need to do your programme for at least 12 months if you’ve achieved your Silver Award, or 18 months if you’ve started at Gold level without doing your Silver – even if you’ve done Bronze.

Caladonian Canal Trip

Following a year’s worth of preparation and training, we set off for our expedition across the Great Glen under the worried gaze of Stuart, who was not convinced our supplies of snacks would be sufficient for calorie-recovery after 20 Km of kayaking a day. Little did Stuart know, one of our valiant teammates had come up with an excellent plan to bake DofE’s first ever trangia chocolate cake, to be enjoyed by the whole team. However, it was only when the aforementioned trangia began to seemingly sublimate under the rigorous heat of the cake batter did it dawn upon us that perhaps Stuart had been on to something.

Despite this hardship, our group managed to make it to our campsites in good time – all the while, enjoying the sights of Scotland and taking pictures in order to document the changing scenery as we progressed throughout our journey. Whilst there were undoubtedly hardships during our expedition, such as seeing Stuart on the horizon using a sail to easily propel himself through choppy waters we vigorously paddled, we faced such adversities as a team. Meanwhile, the individual strengths of each and everyone of our teammates shone through: notably, Agi’s extraordinary recovery of Jack’s kayak whilst the waves grew higher in Loch Ness, and Jack’s own fantastic maintenance of a koala-grip on the nose of Abi’s kayak as he fought to save his last cereal bar.

Our team enjoyed the expedition very much, and had no regrets following our journey. It was lovely to have the opportunity to spend time with individuals, all being different in our own way, uniform in our desire to do our best and have a great time.

Lorissa Farrell