With its accreditation as a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Directly Licensed Centre renewed earlier this year, the Duke of Edinburgh Award sits well with Worth School’s Benedictine ethos, as pupil Laura Chow in Year 13 explains…
At Worth, it is not unusual to hear the Benedictine values being quoted as the way to conduct ourselves and live our lives to the best of our ability. These values can quickly become forgotten or seen as unnecessary in the modern day, but one of the ways this ethos is quietly and practically applied is through the highly regarded Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) scheme.
The DofE is encouraged at Worth as it “gives all young people aged 14-24 the chance to develop skills for life and work, fulfil their potential and have a brighter future”. All young people who take part must push themselves to do something skill based, action based and voluntary based for a number of months, as well as surviving a challenging expedition.
The freedom this programme offers is unlike anything else. At each level, participants have to complete an expedition (of varying duration). At our Gold Level, young people are given maps of a designated area and are then left to complete a challenge, relying heavily on their training, imagination and thirst for adventure and with Worth staff helpers putting their own time and effort into making sure the expedition is done in a secure way.
The influence and popularity of the Award in the Worth School community received a further boost when, at the beginning of 2014, the School’s licence as a Centre for the Award was renewed. For the DofE inspector who came to Worth, the number of enthusiastic and passionate young people who were taking part in the Award made a great impact on him, and he concluded: “Worth offers young people a challenging and varied DofE programme with good support and opportunity for progression.”
‘Fidelity in relationships’ is a Benedictine value which is often overlooked or seen in a romantic sense and therefore limited in how it can be applied in extra-curricular activities. In DofE, however, this value is the beating heart of what goes on from start to finish. Without faithfulness to one’s group and dedication to what you have committed yourself to, the whole thing falls apart. Each member of the team depends on the others to do their part in the route planning, to carry tent poles and to carry the stove. Everyone has to give support and encouragement to keep the group going during the expedition. This element of trust and team spirit can only thrive if there is fidelity between team members.
James Sparks, last summer’s outgoing DofE Prefect said of the programme, “The DofE allows and encourages candidates to make and take opportunities and then to reap the rewards of those opportunities. It allows pupils in a very structured and safe way to live out the Benedictine ethos.”
Despite its numerous challenges, the DofE gives young people the chance to live and breathe values that are central to our School and faith. Achieving the Award will require hard work and endurance, but the perspective gained is invaluable and the very nature of the Award allows the more important ideas of faith, stamina and hard work to flourish.
This article first appeared in the Summer 2014 edition of Insight. Worth School is licensed to run and approve DofE Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. Typically, about 35 students are enrolled at Gold level, 35 at Silver and just over 80 at Bronze level.