Great expeditions


Many parents look back on the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme with fond memories of expeditions beset by mishaps. As society emerges from the pandemic, the unique and very valuable skills DofE teaches pupils have never been more important.

Wet sleeping bags, blisters and being freezing cold – just three of the things some might associate with the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme. But whilst the expeditions might sometimes be beset by mishaps, map reading errors and bad weather of biblical proportions, they teach pupils a range of skills which cannot be found in the classroom.

"Although it can be uncomfortable – and they can get soaking wet etc – I actually think they really enjoy that part of it!", reflects Emma McKendrick, Headmistress of Downe House.

"It's the expeditions where things go wrong, they will talk about for years afterwards. Partly because you develop friendships, you have to work out things collaboratively and you also learn you can do it – you can get lost on the moors and find a way out collaboratively. And actually, that's a really important part of building up their resilience."

Thomas Garnier, Headmaster of Pangbourne College agrees: "I do think the discomfort is actually quite an important rite of passage on the journey towards developing resilience – and teamwork and confidence."

The Award was started by The Duke of Edinburgh, initially as a pilot scheme in 1956, with four sections – Rescue and Public Service, Expeditions, Pursuits and Projects, and fitness. It proved popular, with 7,000 boys getting involved in the first year and 1,000 Awards achieved.

Emma McKendrick and Thomas Garnier discuss the valuable skills pupils gain from the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme

Matthew Smith is the Editor of Attain.