The Duke of Edinburgh's Award at Gordonstoun

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award is the world’s leading youth achievement award, which incorporates physical activities, volunteering and expeditions. It owes its existence to the vision of our founder, Kurt Hahn.

Gordonstoun is very proud to be the birthplace of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. The school’s founder, Kurt Hahn, wanted to share his unique educational ethos with the local community and set up the Moray Badge in 1936. It was such a success that Hahn wanted to make it a national award and, in 1954, he consulted with Prince Philip, one of his first pupils at Gordonstoun, and persuaded him to give his name to what then became the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

It is now unquestionably the world’s leading youth achievement award, taking place in over 140 countries. It encompasses the ethos of Gordonstoun which empowers young people by creating opportunities for them to challenge themselves, help in their communities, enhance their skills, grow in confidence and develop resilience. In HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s words ‘The Award is intended to help both the young as well as those who are concerned for their welfare. The object is to provide an introduction to worthwhile leisure activities and voluntary service, as a challenge to the individual to discover the satisfaction of achievement and as a guide for those people and organizations who would like to encourage the development of their young fellow citizens.’

This year, 135 Gordonstoun students participated in the Awards, with 20 undertaking the Bronze, 20 the Silver and 95 of our Years 12 & 13 amidst their Gold Awards.

Following, three of those students share their Gold DofE experiences.

Anna S, Plewlands House Year 13

I started my Gold DofE at the beginning of year 12 without having done either of the two previous levels due to Covid.

Picking my volunteering section was easy as I had my NPLQ as part of the lifeguarding service meaning I volunteered to take shifts in the pool. For my physical section I picked hockey, I trained, played matches and during the holidays kept up with my fitness meaning I could reach the 6-month timescale. Before starting DofE I knew how to knit but decided my skill would be to improve this and learn to crochet which I have done successfully. One of the hardest parts of DofE was the residential where you spend a minimum of four nights somewhere you don’t know anyone. For this I volunteered at a local outdoor activities centre helping with white water rafting and Pak kayaking and even though it seemed hard at the beginning it was a valuable experience. Overall, I have enjoyed every element of my DofE, but my highlight was the expedition as we spent 3 nights in the Cairngorms all the while having a sub target of creating a documentary of all the animals and wildlife we spotted along the way.

Johnny M, Duffus House Year 13

My Gold Duke of Edinburgh was quite simply the most exhilarating pursuit I have ever participated in. I will never forget the challenging times my group faced as we walked 70km during our four day, three night expedition in extreme gale force conditions. The winds were so strong we decided to walk for hours practically holding onto each other in order to succeed and to survive. It was a lesson in leadership and compassion like no other. For my residential, I undertook a cookery course and now have impressive skills I never thought I would have. I have recently completed an online finance course as part of my skills section. These skills came to the fore in my BTEC enterprise and entrepreneurship mock but also provided me with important life skills. As part of my Gold Duke of Edinburgh my weekly coastguard service and football activity at school were also a huge part as they both gave me a contribution to my DofE for the volunteering and physical sections. As well as the problem solving skills coastguard taught me and the ethical teamwork my football activity provided me with. Leaving Gordonstoun with a Gold Duke of Edinburgh award will be a great accomplishments for me and one which will stand me in good stead for the rest of my life, Personally I would encourage everyone to do it.

Eddie F, Plewlands House Year 13

I began my Gold DofE award at the start of Year 12, with no previous experience of Bronze or Silver Levels. I chose my sections with relative ease as I already volunteered once a week coaching the junior school, in various different skills from netball to fun games with the younger years. For my physical section i chose to continue my yoga practice but to push myself harder to learn different techniques and flows that would help my flexibility and wellbeing, i also included fitness training alongside this to improve stamina and strength for my practice. I began this during year 11 summer term and carried it through until Christmas 2022, to complete my 18-month target. In the past i have practiced archery and target shooting, i wanted to take this skill further within my DofE and decided to incorporate bow making along with archery practice and also try out clay pigeon shooting, i have done all of these elements successfully even completing the making of my own bow. The most exciting part of my DofE was the residential as i went on an intensive cookery course in the Cotswold's, this taught me various useful skills in preparing meals for large groups of people, knife and kitchen equipment safety and finally how to make chicken katsu curry ( a valuable skill.) It was refreshing to meet lots of new people and we finished the course with an afternoon clay pigeon shooting. I thoroughly enjoyed the expedition element of the award as it was challenging but exciting to spend 3 nights in the Cairngorms, creating a documentary, seeing lots of wildlife and enjoying brief spells of sunshine amongst the showers.

Huge congratulations to our former pupil HRH Prince Edward on receiving the title of Duke of Edinburgh. Perfect to share a picture here of HRH with a participant of the Moray Badge which was relaunched during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Year, originated at Gordonstoun and was the precursor to the Duke of Edinburgh awards.