Colleges urged to take students on an adventure

18th April 2014 at 01:00
Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme seeks FE participation

It has helped thousands of schoolchildren to broaden their horizons, challenge themselves and contribute to their communities. Now the Duke of Edinburgh's Award programme is aiming to do the same for college students.

DofE Scotland will hold an introductory session for colleges next month, with the support of the College Development Network, to outline the opportunities it provides. The organisation has also recruited a development officer to oversee the roll-out in colleges and universities.

More than 38,000 young people have taken part in the awards in Scotland over the past 12 months - one in every six 16- and 17-year-olds. "The DofE is available to any young person up to their 25th birthday, yet only 25 per cent of our work is with those aged 18 and over. We want to change this," Alex Cumming, assistant director at DofE Scotland, told TESS.

He added that the programme was recognised across the UK for boosting participants' transferable skills and helping employers to identify young people with the values and attributes they were looking for.

"We know that the DofE develops core values such as passion and commitment, thinking and problem-solving in students. This is why we are supporting Scotland's colleges by investing in a full-time post to develop delivery in this area," he said.

"If young people haven't had the chance at school or through a youth work setting to do their DofE, then we want to ensure that opportunity is not closed to them."

Some students already have the opportunity to work towards awards at Dundee and Angus College and Edinburgh College.

Mike McCabe, a programme manager at Edinburgh College, said the DofE had proved to be hugely beneficial, and that students with ASN enjoyed exploring outside the classroom and being energetic.

"It is active, and it creates hundreds of opportunities for learning and development. It also allows individuals the opportunity to contribute to their community. They improve their problem-solving, teamwork, literacy and numeracy, and even their ICT skills, for example when they use the GPS. I would 100 per cent recommend it to other colleges," he said.

According to Mr McCabe, the activities also broke down the "barriers between students and their lecturers and the fears of the classroom" by allowing pupils to spend time in the natural environment. In addition, he said, the programme allowed students to identify areas of interest in which they might want to pursue a career, from agriculture to social care.

Convinced of its success, Edinburgh College plans to expand its DofE offering after the summer. Lecturers already deliver the bronze and silver programmes to school-leavers with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Mr Cumming said that initial interest from the wider college sector had been significant. Glasgow Kelvin and North East Scotland colleges are among those looking at making it available to their students.

The DofE was established in 1956. It allows young people aged 14 to 24 to work towards one of three levels of award - bronze, silver or gold - by completing a personal programme of activities in four key areas: volunteering, physical, skills and expedition (plus residential for gold awards).

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