Duke of Edinburgh

Valued – Inspired – Prepared

Westhaven School is a unique learning environment with high expectations for learners who experience barriers to learning for a range of reasons. We promote a calm environment that enables everyone to learn. The golden thread that permeates our curriculum and our conduct through every school day are the core values that shape our learners to be:

  • safely independent
  • confident communicators
  • respectful citizens
  • resilient learners
  • inquisitive thinkers

The Westhaven Way is our ethos and it underpins our daily approach to behaviour and learning.

Our main intent in offering the Duke of Edinburgh Award at Westhaven is to encourage and support our learners in setting personal challenges and pushing personal boundaries to gain some of the skills necessary to successfully navigate adult life. Achieving an award isn’t a competition or about being first, it is about personal development. 

Through the DofE programme, our learners have fun, make friends, improve their self-esteem, and build confidence. They gain essential skills and attributes for work and life such as resilience, problem-solving, teamwork, communication, and drive. 

The Duke of Edinburgh curriculum is run according to the specifications and guidelines of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Our learners become confident communicators because they have to work in a team and have to create and present a presentation on their expedition to the external assessor. Our learners become more safely independent through the tasks that they are required to do, especially the expedition. Whilst completing the award, we work in many different environments and with a variety of different people which helps our learners understand how to be respectful citizens and inquisitive thinkers. Finally, the Duke of Edinburgh Award helps our learners to become more resilient as they face personal challenges that they need to overcome, such as learning to tie up walking boots or being able to set up their tent and cook their own meals.

At Westhaven, the Duke of Edinburgh Award is an optional, two-year course for learners in Key Stage 4. The course is led by Mr Bevan and Miss Parker who both hold the Coastal and Countryside with Camping Endorsement qualification and the Outdoor First Aid Certificate. Lessons are taught in small, mixed-ability groups with an emphasis on practical work. We use a variety of resources some of which are listed below:

    • OS Maps and online mapping system
    • Word Maps
    • Trangia cooking systems
    • Tents
    • St Johns First Aid Course
    • Resuscitation Dolls
    • Loopers and bow saws
    • OS Maps Key cards
    • Route Cards

    We use Evidence for Learning and eDofE to evidence learners’ work and this evidence is collated so that learners can gain the Silver Award for the following sections: 

    • Volunteering
    • Physical
    • Skills
    • Expedition

    For the majority of the 2-year course, learners complete practical tasks outside of the classroom. We spent a lot of time in the local area practicing navigation skills, building up to one-day walks in year 10 before the expedition. The volunteering section is completed by working with external organizations, which in the past have included Mendip AONB and Forest England. 

    Nationally there are approximately 325,000 young people starting a Duke of Edinburgh award each year. Out of that number approximately 145,000 complete their award which is roughly 45%. At Westhaven we have a completion rate of approximately 88% which is significantly above the national average. If a learner does not complete their award with us they have until their 25th birthday to do so, or can continue to build on the award gained at Westhaven in their next placement. For example, in the past, we have had learners who completed a Bronze Award with us go on to complete their Silver Award and Gold Award at their next placement. 

    I enjoyed working together as a group to try and solve problems, the expedition, and learning first aid during our skills section (year 10 learner 2021). 
    “I learned how to cook food, read a map, and put up tents (year 11 learner 2022). 
    “I enjoy being part of the DofE experience and seeing how learners progress throughout the year” (Miss Parker). 

    How important is the Duke of Edinburgh Award?

    When your child does their DofE programme they’ll develop the skills and attitudes they need to become more rounded, confident adults. These are qualities that colleges, universities and employers are attracted to.

    The School Inspection Handbook (October 2023) states that: 

    “Schools are crucial in preparing pupils for their adult lives, teaching them to understand how to engage with society and providing them with plentiful opportunities to do so” and we believe that offering the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme is a vital part in providing this for our learners.