I am three months away from completing my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award at Fyling Hall and I couldn’t be prouder.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award is a programme created for young people aged 14 and above, where each participant has to show commitment and progress in each of three sections: skills, volunteering, and a physical activity, as well as take part in an expedition involving camping and usually hiking. It is a great enrichment of any personal statement, also worth UCAS points when one applies to university. The so called ‘DofE’ has been part of the extra-curricular programme at Fyling Hall for a long time, but it was only last year when our school became a Directly Licensed Centre, which is able to organise, assess and present awards on behalf of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.

Since last September, part of our PSHE curriculum is the introduction to the DofE scheme. All students in Year 9 learn what is involved in the programme, along with basic first aid and map reading skills. This gives them a taste of the DofE adventure.

Completing my ‘Gold Award’ has been difficult and challenging but most of all incredibly rewarding. Not only have I learnt new skills, but formed new friendships and passions. The highlights of my experiences include the spectacular views on our expedition to the Lake District; learning to bake s’mores over a bonfire and a week of splattering paint over the walls in a youth hostel – that is, helping with renovation in order to complete my residential section. If I had not volunteered at the National Trust centre, I would have never learnt so much about Robin Hood’s Bay and coast conservation. If I hadn’t picked hockey and writing as my DofE activities, I would probably have lacked determination to improve these skills. Now I regularly contribute to the weekly school newsletter and play in the first hockey team – all thanks to the progress I made with the motivating support from the DofE community at Fyling Hall. The fact that I arrived here eighteen months ago with little abilities in written English and now my article is published in a local newspaper just proves how far a good education and the DofE experience can lead you, if only you put in enough effort.

There is no way to speak about the Duke of Edinburgh Award in general terms. The scheme is personalised and each participant takes away different experiences and skills. What I can say for sure is that through the DofE scheme, Fyling Hall provides its students with great opportunities that inspire us to become independent and more proactive individuals.

Joanna Koter (Year 13)

dofe Kieran Smith Year 12