History of the Award
The Award's roots lie in the educational philosophy of Gordonstoun's founder, Kurt Hahn. In 1936 Hahn established the Gordonstoun School Badge. Later that year it became the Moray Badge, so that any boy living in Moray could take part.
By the early 1940s Hahn was keen to extend the scheme to the whole country. It became the County Badge Scheme. However World War II was at its height and the scheme did not survive in this form.
In 1954 Hahn approached one of his first pupils at Gordonstoun - Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh - for help to relaunch the County Badge. Prince Philip agreed but said he could not do it by himself. He therefore formed a committee, which included Sir John Hunt: leader of the first successful attempt to climb Mount Everest.
Together they drew up an outline of what would become the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.
A press announcement was made on 22 February 1956 and, six months later, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme was launched with Sir John as its first Director.
Since then young people in 110 countries have taken part. Currently there are 440,000 participants, some 200,000 in the UK.
How it works
The Award has three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold.
- Has four sections - volunteering, skills, physical recreation and expeditions
- Is open to young people aged at least 14
- Requires a minimum commitment of six months
- Has the same sections as Bronze
- Is open to young people aged at least 15
- Requires a minimum 12-month commitment
- Has the same sections as Bronze and Silver, plus a residential project
- Is open to young people aged at least 16
- Requires a minimum 12-month commitment (18 months for students entering straight into Gold)
Doing the Award at Gordonstoun
Many students start the Bronze or Silver Award in Years 10 and 11 and progress to Gold in Year 12.
Others prefer to concentrate on Gold without having done Bronze or Silver.
The curriculum enables pupils to participate in all sections of the Award.
Students must put in a great deal of effort in addition to their timetabled commitments. Completing the Award takes commitment, drive and dedication.
In addition to Service activities each Wednesday afternoon, students taking the Award must give up additional time, such as:
- weekend mountain rescue expeditions;
- fire duty during the week for those in the Fire Service;
- weekend sail coaching for juniors in the Special Boat Service; or
- evening training and weekend fixtures for students undertaking the Award's physical recreation component.
Why Gordonstoun students take the Award
Finishing the Award at any level is a real achievement and contributes to the pupils' all-round experience at Gordonstoun.
Achieving Gold is particularly rewarding. Here are some achievements that successful students have highlighted:
- Completing a mountain expedition in very challenging weather
- Experiencing a residential project
- Learning something new or sharing skills and efforts with someone less fortunate
Receiving the Gold Award, at St James' Palace in London or the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, gives a sense of shared accomplishment with other young people from other schools and walks of life.