More Than Just Skills: The Value of DofE Awards

Posted on 05th Feb 2024 in Outdoor Education

We have been running an exciting Outdoor Learning Programme at ESMS for over 55 years, and at the heart of that programme is our commitment to the Duke of Edinburgh Award. ESMS is one of the largest providers of the award in Scotland, with over 300 students receiving a Bronze, Silver or Gold certificate last year.

The experience starts in our Junior School with the JASS award, the Junior School equivalent. JASS helps our Junior School children develop problem solving, team work, interpersonal and communication skills. It also helps to builds self-confidence and a sense of well-being. Last year alone, 273 students completed their JASS awards, laying the foundations for the skills required to tackle the Duke of Edinburgh Award in their later years.

As with the programme in the Junior School, the Duke of Edinburgh Award in our Senior Schools is a voluntary, non-competitive programme of practical, cultural and adventurous activities, designed to support the personal and social development of young people. When speaking to both our current and former pupils, their experiences of the DofE programme often stand out as the most enjoyable highlights of their school career.  

DofE offers young people the chance to undertake exciting, constructive and challenging activities in their free time. It also helps to teach them about the importance of contributing to their local communities, as the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards require a commitment to volunteering. Last year, 460 students took part in DofE, completing over 6,200 hours of volunteering in their local communities, the social value of which equates to over £30,000.  

What’s more, friendships formed on a DofE expedition are often new and sometimes surprising. When tasked with a challenging hike or a residential trip, our students learn a lot about themselves and their peers. They build resilience, a strong sense of identity and a true understanding of their strengths.  

Our Head of Outdoor Learning, Mr Ogilvie, comments: “DofE offers our students the opportunity to learn and develop many skills and forge lifelong friendships, but perhaps what is most rewarding to see is the  dedication the students give the programme. Lots of aspects of school life involve help from Mum or Dad, but for DofE, by the time students gets to Gold, they have to really step up and put their heart and soul into it. It’s just brilliant to see them succeed.”  

Simon (S6) is working towards his Gold Award: "DofE has taught me things like resilience and commitment… I love the expedition most as I'm a very adventurous person who enjoys doing hikes and different activities like that, and it is made better when it is done with friends.” 

Kirsty (S6) is also working towards Gold and has picked up more than a few new skills: “I’ve learnt leadership, confidence, technical hockey skills, surfing, guitar, map reading and outdoor knowledge. What has surprised me most was my resilience and perseverance… even when things got difficult, I managed to keep going.”  

We wish this year’s JASS and DofE students the best of luck in completing their awards!

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