DofE Awards – giving opportunity to all

Many people will have heard about someone who is ‘doing their Duke of Ed’, but what does undertaking a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme actually entail?

In any given year, 8,500 young people in Northern Ireland sign up to start their Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards, adding to the 27,0134 participants aged between 14 and 24 who are already part of the programme. 

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award - Northern Ireland is about ‘giving opportunity’ to young people from all walks of life

says Kate Thompson, Northern Ireland Director for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE). 

Our mission is to inspire, guide and support young people in their self-development and to recognise their achievements.  The Awards are achievable by any young person who chooses to take up the challenge, regardless of gender, background or location. 

In Northern Ireland we are also very fortunate to have a Joint Award Initiative with The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and Gaisce – The President’s Award.  The Initiative enables any young person who meets the conditions of the DofE programme in Northern Ireland to have a choice of certification. They can choose a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, a Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award or a Gaisce – The President’s Award Certificate.   

We also have tri-branded literature, literature in Irish and a separate website for the Joint Award Initiative available in both English and Irish at

We work closely with many schools in Northern Ireland who offer DofE/JAI programmes, however, since the programme is a personal challenge and not a competition, every participant’s programme is tailor-made to reflect their individual starting point abilities and interests.

CSSC officers spent some time learning more about the DofE/JAI and how they can bring benefit to controlled school pupils. 

It was interesting to learn the views of employers who consider the DofE Awards to be the most important activity undertaken at school by potential job applicants

said Jayne Millar, Head of Education Support. 

I know from personal experience the benefits that gaining a DofE Award brings. 

In addition to participants gaining skills in leadership, communication, and teamwork, not forgetting an increase in confidence, Award holders believe that activities they undertake as part of their Award could support them in their future career.

The DofE/JAI is offered through Licensed Organisations, including the Education Authority, although a number of schools also register directly with the DofE.  There is a small participation charge per participant (£20 at Bronze and Silver and £27 at Gold). 

We want the DofE/JAI to be available to as many young people as possible

 said Kate Thompson.  

There is no cost for a school to register with the EA and we are keen to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds through offering free places and helping with resources and equipment.  We also offer support to all schools and schools can also opt to Licence directly with the DofE to offer the programme.

If any school or young person is interested in finding out more about The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the Joint Award Initiative, then please contact Julie or Kate on 028 9069 9100 or visit or for more information on the DofE/JAI. 

Published 12 October 2017