The Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE), from Bronze to Gold, is a collective of opportunities from volunteering to hiking and ‘out of bounds’ activities. With 330,000 young people actively participating from April 2020-March 2021, it’s an experience created with the aim of enhancing young people’s life and employability skills. Whilst a clear effort is made in attempting to level out the playing field when it comes to pupil accessibility  at acquiring soft skills and invaluable life experiences.

However, this may not entirely be the case. With activities ranging from various lengths of overnight expeditions to sporting activities, when signing up, pupils need to assess not only their time keeping and organisation skills, but economic situation also. For those working extra jobs out of necessity, young carers or students lacking financial means, DofE becomes somewhat inaccessible. With the cost-of-living crisis still on the rise, making both monetary and time sacrifices is altogether too much to ask for many teenagers and families in the UK.

Considering expedition and residential expenses which can range anywhere from £500-£1000+, plus additional equipment and travel costs, the experience is becoming increasingly expensive. Despite grants and bursaries being available through schools and charitable schemes, it seems the award is becoming increasingly available to just a select few middle-class students. Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of DofE altogether? Was it not started in order to allow students from all backgrounds to grow and develop, when instead it appears to be aiding the already privileged even more.

Changes clearly need to be made in order to allow everyone the experiences that currently only the few are able to encounter. It appears telling of the state of the nation where even awards schemes created to enhance children, of all people, reflect elitist values and an increasingly unequal society.