DofE numbers across the country – and at Ysgol Eirias – are on the rise

THE number of children signing up to the Duke Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award at a leading school has risen in tandem with national figures.

Ysgol Eirias in Colwyn Bay has enjoyed a surge in pupils beginning the youth scheme over the last 12 months, with more than 100 taking on the Bronze and Silver categories.

Teacher Sam Hawkins – who leads on DofE provision at the school – has plans to introduce the Gold standard from next September and hopes even more learners from across different year groups will get involved.

It comes as the DofE revealed more than 320,000 participants started their Award journey in 2022/23, the highest number in its 67-year history and a huge 10% increase.

The charity aims to reach one million young people by 2026, and Sam said Ysgol Eirias is proud to play its part.

“The school has seen a significant rise in pupils looking to partake in extra-curricular activities, notably the DofE awards scheme,” he said.

“They and their families recognise the value it can have in the future, towards their chosen career, applying to university and for their CVs, given the commitment to completing an expedition, volunteering and the physical and skills aspect outside of school hours.

“Since the pandemic we’ve seen more interest, with an initial 40 completing Bronze last year, and now Silver, and that is reflected in the huge number of people across the UK joining the scheme.

“Our progress has followed national progress, which has been really heartening and looks set to continue.”

Each student will contribute an average of 11 hours of voluntary work in the community, from litter picking to sports coaching, supporting vulnerable family and neighbours, and more.

“Our aim is for the vast majority of pupils to take part in the DofE scheme in the future, given the impact and achievement involved,” Sam added.

“It shows independence, brings together administrative and transferable skills, and shows that the participant is willing to go the extra mile, a big USP for potential employers.

“And the expedition enables them to demonstrate teamwork, navigation and map reading skills, first aid and other factors that can play a part in everyday life – it is an amazing foundation for them.”

Ysgol Eirias has introduced designated weeks where Areas of Learning and Experience can host innovative activities and events to encourage learning and mindfulness outside of school hours.

Led by Assistant Headteacher Alex Metcalfe, the sessions are held on-site in addition to schemes like the DofE, where learners give their own time at home or locally.

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