The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme is a highly respected activity at Felsted, supporting one of the five Felsted values of ‘Adventure’. We celebrate the legacy left by The Duke of Edinburgh, who worked so tirelessly to inspire young people and provide them with opportunities to build their confidence and character.
Felsted is one of the most active DofE schools in the country, with participating numbers so high that we have our own DofE Operating Authority, ensuring that all Felstedians gain the full benefits of the opportunities provided by this scheme. Each year, most of our Year 10 students will complete the Bronze Award, at least 50-60% of Year 11 will complete the Silver Award, and between 20 and 30 Sixth Form students will complete the Gold Award. This major achievement is marked with a presentation by ~HRH Prince Edward (formerly Prince Philip) at St James’s Palace.
This year we have 54 Bronze, 45 Silver & 51 Golds Awards in progress, with two expeditions planned for June, playing catch up on those delayed from last year (24 Gold and 13 Silver for 2020 and 27 Gold and 32 Silver for 2021).
Dee Whittock, Manager of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme at Felsted, plays tribute to the Scheme and shares her experiences; “I was privileged to meet both HRH The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh when they visited Felsted in 2014, a much anticipated and celebrated event by all involved. The Duke particularly enjoyed and took time to have conversations with students completing the Award at that time. I was also fortunate to meet him with Miss Donaldson when we were invited to the DofE 60th Celebration in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. Many of our students were also presented with their Gold awards by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh himself and he was always interested to know how they had achieved their Gold Award.
“I believe the DofE Award Scheme is one of the most amazing ways to empower the students we work with. Often just by giving them the insight to see and enjoy who they are and the world around them. Keeping the award personal to each participant whilst encouraging them to work together whenever possible seems, in my experience, to develop their ability to notice and understand more. The ethos behind the award is that it is participant driven and that is key to getting the most from your award experience. I never get bored of hearing the expression, "wow Miss, did you see that?" Whether that was star spotting in Dartmoor one frosty night at the end of March or a herd of Deer or a Grouse in the North Yorkshire Moors.
Cold nights and even colder mornings, through to the hottest of expeditions in summers gone by; seeing the expression on a students face when they work out their map skills and put their group back on track or exploring the waterfall at The Malleon Spout, I consider myself very lucky to be able to share these experiences with the students I have been privileged enough to work with over the years.
I have and always will believe DofE is built in a way that, when fully engaged with the award, it opens the eyes of the participant to what they really can achieve. Learning something new, improving something you already know, supporting others, helping in your community.
It develops life long skills, friendships and stories the students will recount many times and many years later!
Even during the terrible pandemic over 170 of our students have continued with their DofE commitments, switching to supporting their family and local community during the lockdown periods as well as facing the many challenges that have just accompanied everyday life.
Embracing the DofE award really means going that extra mile and pushing that little bit harder in whatever each individual faces. You don’t need to be captain of your first team or be predicted A*s across the board, you just have to challenge yourself. The opportunity to develop character through the award scheme is something that just grows as our young people work their way through the levels of the award.
The work undertaken by the award participants is so varied and widespread and the members of supporting adults who unwittingly add so much value to these experiences is immeasurable. I don’t think HRH The Duke of Edinburgh could have possibly known how successful or how far reaching this award scheme would become and continues to grow, reaching out to young people, and for this all our Felsted participants will always owe him a debt of immense gratitude.”
Amber Aitken, a former Felstedian, completed her Gold Award in 2019. “Working my way through from Bronze to Gold was a huge personal achievement whilst at school. The expeditions increased in toughness and you really got to know your strengths and weaknesses as a result, all things that have increased my confidence and resilience. Volunteering at the local school for children with learning difficulties made me realise the importance of supporting those less fortunate and travelling to Switzerland on my own to take part in a United Nations insight course really took me out of my comfort zone; both things I would never have done without the encouragement of the scheme. In addition I was able to use many of the elements as part of my IB Diploma and it really supported my university applications. I know I will use many of the skills learnt in the future and I am so grateful that HRH The Duke of Edinburgh set up such a valuable programme for us to challenge ourselves with.”