Below you'll find some top tips to engage each of the different groups connected to DofE activities in your school. If you have any other tips to share, please do send them through to [email protected].
You (DofE Leader/Co-ordinator/Manager)
EXPEDITION DATA Input all expedition details on to your participants' eDofE accounts, using the 'expedition set up' tool, so that your participants only need to enter their aims and objectives.
PROGRESS REVIEW Use eDofE to review where participants are with their programmes. Arrange a catch up with any who haven't made progress and help to address any barriers they might be facing. Directly approve any Programme Planners and Assessor Reports as soon as they come through.
KIT SHARING Contact other local DofE groups or centres (including other schools, youth clubs or Guiding or Scout groups) to see if they would consider sharing any expedition kit or minibuses. Approach local outdoor stores for discounted kit opportunities.
MINIBUSES If minibus driver training is required, join together with volunteers (in your school or other local schools and centres) to help get a cheaper rate.
ACTIVITY IDEAS Participants struggling to find activities (particularly volunteering) could try looking within the school for opportunities. Examples include; ASN/learning support department, sports clubs, litter-picking, after school or lunchtime clubs, student guides or ambassadors, student mentors, music clubs, environment campaigning, youth parliament projects, reading schemes, language clubs or the school newsletter/newspaper/website editorial team. If a club isn't in existence, your participants could set one up. Suggest to any teachers running these extra-curricular clubs that they add 'this activity can be used for your DofE' to their posters and sign up sheets.
INSPIRATION If participants are struggling to think of activities then you could suggest they take a look at the LifeZone (accessible through their eDofE account) for inspiration. They might find ideas for their career paths through the World of work and business pages and then choose DofE activities to support them on these paths.
MENTORING Engage your Gold and Silver participants to act as mentors to Bronze participants who are just starting out. They can support them on eDofE, 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. This mentoring could even be used for their own Volunteering section.
ADDITIONAL SUPPORT Invite participants to drop-in sessions to support them with eDofE evidence and Assessor Report uploading. Keep an eye on their 'last login' dates on eDofE to identify any who might be struggling. Book in sessions in the IT rooms, particularly for those who don't have computer access at home.
RE-ENGAGE Try to re-engage with participants who didn't manage to complete in the previous year. They might now have other more involved or supportive peers or have developed personally to handle the additional challenge. They can use the Opportunity Finder to find opportunities for open expeditions if they missed out on the school one or they could try using an AAP.
RAISING FUNDS If your participants are looking to try some more unusual activities or an expedition that's further afield then they could have a look at these 40 fundraising ideas to help raise some money. These ideas could also be used to fundraise for new kit too.
SHOWCASING SKILLS If your participants are learning to play an instrument for their Skills section or perhaps something else that could be performed, why not encourage them to put on a Christmas performance? They could invite along other pupils, teachers and parents, and it's a great way to raise some money for your DofE activities too! It's also good to give them something to aim for when they're starting out.
RECRUITMENT Consider recruiting parents as volunteers - invite them along to 'taster' sessions at DofE meetings so that they can see what it's all about.
EXPEDITIONS Send out expedition consent forms well in advance of the trips, detailing the expedition area and any key information. It is worth outlining behaviour expectations and, where possible, getting agreement from the participants themselves.
UPDATE If your school circulates a pre-Christmas newsletter, make sure you submit a DofE update for inclusion. It can focus not just on the expeditions but also news on the other activities, particularly volunteering work, Awards that have been achieved and any quotes or photographs you have.
For DofE volunteers/supporters/helpers
eDofE Check eDofE to make sure your Leaders have been logging in regularly and managing their alerts. Make sure there aren't outstanding Reports or Planners awaiting approval.
REVIEW Carry out another audit of your volunteers to ensure you have individuals covering all the areas needed for the rest of the year. Request extra support from your staff if needed.
For the headteacher and senior management team
PROGRESS UPDATE Update your headteacher and senior management team on your progress against your targets. Your DofE reports could also be included in any reports produced for school inspections to help demonstrate how the school, through DofE activities, is supporting its students to develop outside of the classroom. You might find this Ofsted document helpful. Review general pupil progress reports and chat with subject and form teachers to see how DofE involvement has impacted participants' wider attainment.
For governors and the PTA
RAISING AWARENESS Attend the Governor's Christmas meeting and present an update on your DofE achievements so far (or contribute in advance to their report). Focus on the progress you've made towards your targets, any positive outcomes so far (quotes and photos are great illustrations for these) and demonstrate the impact of your work. This helps to raise awareness of the DofE activities and encourage their wider support (if they haven't already invested). Don't forget to share any positive stories before you go on Christmas break too! (You could include them in an email if there is no formal report).
For your clerical or administrations teams
APPROVAL FOR VISITS Seek approval for your expeditions early on from the Educational Visits Co-ordinator and ensure the dates don't conflict with any other major activities (including exams, school productions, trips and exchanges).
For the wider community
POSITIVE PUBLICITY Send a press release to your local paper on DofE achievements (from this year and the previous year). Include updates on your expeditions, Award achievements and any interesting or unusual activities - particularly those that have engaged the wider communities. For ideas, check out this document on 'Telling your DofE story'. Don't forget to include lots of photos and quotes from participants, parents and Leaders. Make sure you display any coverage you receive on your DofE noticeboard and in the school reception, or on social media.