On 9 April 2021 Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh passed away at the grand age of 99. One of his most notable initiatives was setting up the Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE), which launched in 1956, and over six decades later sees close to 300,000 14-24-year-olds complete an Award every year.
In the infant days of the Award, it was initially offered to boys in Local Education Authorities, the Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, and a handful of independent and grammar schools across the UK. It set out to ‘make the best use of their free time, find interests, acquire self-confidence and a sense of purpose that would support them into their future and help them to become well-rounded citizens’. These days the Award can be achieved through schools, colleges, universities, youth clubs, businesses, housing associations, young offender institutions, voluntary organisations and is now globally recognised with 130 countries offering a format of the scheme.
DofE at Truro School dates back to 1962 organised by Peter Lang (TS Staff 1952-92). The first group to undertake the highest level, Gold, was in 1964. Primarily the expeditions took place on Dartmoor and the Lake District, but in the 1990s Gold expeditions began abroad.
Sophie, Lower Sixth, is currently working towards her Gold award: “I was determined to embark on Gold as I was really excited to go on an expedition to Slovenia. I was also interested in taking part in a residential which wasn’t part of Silver or Bronze. So far, I have enjoyed my Leiths cookery which is part of my skills section for Gold. I have really improved in confidence and doing DofE definitely encouraged me to take the diploma along with my A Levels.”
Jenna, also completing Gold, added: “I first decided to do bronze DofE as I absolutely love the outdoors and I thought it would be an amazing experience to have. I made so many good memories, so I decided to continue the award to gold. DofE gave me the chance to really get to know people I otherwise wouldn’t have. Training weekends provided me with a break from the stresses of school and exams, which I was really thankful for. It also gave me the opportunity to try new things outside of the school curriculum and find new hobbies and learn new skills. I feel I have learned a lot about navigation and wild camping through the expeditions. DofE has also helped me gain confidence in myself and my abilities. It has taught me how to be resilient, especially when things go wrong, and in my opinion, this is an essential life skill. Doing DofE pushed me out of my comfort zone and provided me with many incredible experiences I will be forever grateful for.”
A shift to eDofE in 2011 enabled an online record of how many people completed an award since that year. From 2011 to present, a total of 1070 Truro School students have been involved in the scheme. A breakdown shows 636 Bronze, 260 Silver and 176 Gold awards presented.
Mr Cucknell, DofE Co-ordinator, said: “DofE requires a phenomenal effort which takes perseverance, dedication and commitment to progress through their activities which culminates with their expeditions. And not forgetting all the behind-the-scenes organisation from staff, parents, and volunteers to support the students in reaching these awards.”
Last year, Truro School was confirmed as the leading school in the South West providing the scheme. A total of 3,341 hours of skill, 3,146 hours of physical activity, and 3,432 hours of volunteering with a social value of £14,929, was achieved by Truro School participants in the 2019-20 academic year alone.
The Head, Mr Johnson, said: “The Duke of Edinburgh Award has been transformational for so many of our pupils. It has given them the opportunity to show themselves in the best light, whether giving up time for volunteering, building on their team work and determination in the expedition, or developing their skills and fitness. The philosophy of the Award mirrors that of the School’s and has been embraced by pupils as a result; shaping them to enter the world confident, curious, creative, courageous and compassionate members of society.”
As the School moves forward we are honoured to continue the incredible legacy created by HRH Prince Philip and look forward to inspiring the next generation of people to embark on their DofE adventure.