students mentoring in Duke of Edinburgh Award

Tuesday February 16, 2021

Four Concord students have been undertaking voluntary Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Ambassador training, to support and mentor other Concordians taking part in the prestigious DofE Award. The DofE Award – highly sought after by higher education establishments and employers – is a youth awards programme founded in the United Kingdom in 1956 by Prince Philip. Concord has had hundreds of students past and present taking part in the award, achieving Bronze, Silver and Gold accolades, and now, four students are providing mentorship to new Bronze participants. Megan and Anders in Form 5, and 6.1 students Anna and Ryan have been undergoing external training as well as receiving additional support from Concord staff, to each manage a group of Bronze Award students. The DofE website states that ‘mentors should encourage more young people to get involved by talking about their personal experiences, be an extra pair of hands on expedition training days and even support with other sectional activities.’ Speaking of the ambassador training which took place online recently, Form 5 student Megan said: “In the course, we learnt more about how to support those in our school with their DofE – We shared ideas on how to encourage people to continue and finish their DofE, even with the challenges of Covid-19. “We discussed how to adapt and meet Covid-19 guidelines, and how some parts of the programme might have to significantly change. “The training was online this year – so it’s been harder to express ideas than in previous years with physical training sessions, but it’s important for ambassadors to discuss ideas together so everyone’s ideas are heard, and more students are encouraged to join the award.” She added: “It feels good that I can help others, just like how others helped me when I first started DoE at Concord. It is also very fulfilling whenever someone completes a section that you have guided and helped them organise.” Concord’s mentors have been assigned groups of up to 10 students each and have to schedule group and individual meetings to support and monitor progress, in line with the college’s Covid-19 guidelines. For Anders, he hopes to assist students with the expedition side of the award: “I hope to help Concord’s DofE participants by answering their queries and assisting with the expedition section, which could include training on how to pitch up a tent, how to cook food using a Trangia – a special stove for the outdoors, and what to do in the event of an emergency. “The majority of Concord’s DofE participants enrol in Form 3 and start their Bronze level, and this year, we have 39 Form 3s who enrolled. “As the DofE Ambassador scheme was introduced quite recently in our DofE Region – Central England, it makes me proud to be one of the first students nominated.” Said mentor, Anna, who hopes to receive her Gold Award this June: “We have experienced DofE first-hand, so it’s up to us to promote the benefits of the award and help enrol more students to achieve their awards.” Similarly to Megan, Anna mentioned ‘the challenge of having to do everything online’: “It creates a disconnect between the students and myself, so this is something we have to overcome. “I’ve found that by using the chat function on Microsoft Teams more, students are more comfortable chatting online, messaging rather than full meetings. “It feels very rewarding knowing I can give back the help that I received, skills I learned, and experiences throughout the completion of the other two awards.”