Developing the Duke of Edinburgh Award Programme in the Western Isles

Members of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Education, Sport and Children’s Services Committee will be asked to note a report at a meeting of the committee tomorrow, Tuesday 26th September, detailing the new model and structure for delivering the Duke of Edinburgh Award in the Western isles. 

The new model, which has been approved both by Head Office in Edinburgh and Head Office in Windsor, includes extending the expedition season which currently runs from April to October to January to December. This will allow winter expeditions to take place for the first time through the Award. Through e-Sgoil, the Award will offer online support to participants living in some of the most remote areas. DofE and e-Sgoil will establish a ‘Direct Virtual Centre’ to allow this to progress.

Through the new model, each school in the Western Isles will appoint a ‘Schools Co-ordinator’ who will have the responsibility to support pupils engaging in the award through their school. In communities, Community Learning and Development (CLD) officers will be available to meet with young people who wish to undertake the Award through a community group or youth club and will support volunteers in their own areas. CLD Officers will also create a ‘Community Links’ platform that will take the shape of a one stop website ensuring sufficient links and supports are equal across the Islands.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in the Western Isles is the second highest in Scotland for participant uptake. Over recent years the award participant figures have consistently increased. In 2014/15, 140 participants started their award, in 2015/16 148 started and 228 in 2016-17. Similarly, the figure for disadvantaged participants increased from 52 in 2015 to 153 in 2016-17. Although the authority has impressive uptake figures, completion of awards are lower than anticipated. The new Development Plan is specifically designed to address this issue and will run for a period of three years in an attempt to encourage young people to utilise new and innovative approaches to completing the Award.