Apex Expeditions was founded with the sole purpose of providing young people and adults with unparalleled expeditions. To create opportunities for anyone searching for it, whilst making it accessible and diverse enough to ensure everyone has the best possible adventure.
One of our main services is being an Approved Activity provider for the Duke of Edinburgh’s award; providing diverse and memorable expeditions from Bronze through to Gold. Our expeditions are designed with the young people in mind. We know from experience the challenges and hardships they can face when on expeditions and we believe it is our job to help show them how amazing the award is and how determination and team work can help them through.
Young people can decide on their locations for Silver and Gold awards; choosing either lowlands, moorlands or mountainous locations. This is one way we make our expeditions more diverse and accessible to young people. Not everyone wants to climb the highest peak or endure the wilds of Dartmoor, however we do believe that everyone has the desire to achieve. Giving young people the option to choose where they go on expedition, gives them the choice to grasp which opportunity they wish to achieve.
The DofE is not only beneficial for young people though. From September 2019, Ofsted will apply a new framework when inspecting education providers in England, with a greater focus on how well schools and colleges provide for all pupils’ personal development. This will include inspections on a variety of extracurricular activities taken up by young people.
If schools are hoping to be judged outstanding, they must give pupils access to a “wide, rich set of experiences.” This should be through curriculum and extracurricular activities.
Ofsted are looking to see if schools develop pupils’ character – defined as ‘a set of positive
personal traits, dispositions and virtues that informs their motivation so that they reflect wisely, learn eagerly, behave with integrity and cooperate consistently well with others’.
The DofE takes pupils outside the comfort zone of the classroom and their social circle, broadens their horizons and gives them a positive approach to overcoming challenges and reaching goals. Young people choose their own activities and set their own targets – so their level of achievement depends on their own enthusiasm, commitment and self-motivation. This boosts their independence, responsibility and ability to reflect on the impact of their actions. They learn to work well and respectfully with others, become more confident and expand their aspirations.
Ofsted will also look to see if schools develop pupils’ confidence, resilience and knowledge so they can keep themselves mentally healthy. The DofE is widely recognised by teachers, higher and further education leaders and employers as one of the best models for encouraging and celebrating qualities like confidence and independence. Planning and executing their expedition gives young people resilience, determination and self-reliance, while for many giving back to their community by volunteering can bring benefits for their own mental health.
There are at least eight other categories within an Ofsted inspection that can relate to the extracurricular activities such that the DofE award provides; not only within its expedition section but also through the volunteering, physical and skills sections.
“Schools are crucial in preparing pupils for their adult lives, teaching them to understand how to engage with society and providing them with plentiful opportunities to do so. In this judgment, therefore, inspectors will seek to evaluate the quality and intent of what a school provides (either directly or by drawing on high-quality agencies and providers, for example The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award…), but will not attempt to measure the impact of the school’s work on the lives of individual pupils.” Ofsted school inspection handbook, 2019
At the very least, we believe the DofE should be accessible and available to all young people, disadvantaged or not. We work hard to promote the award to schools not only for the benefit of the company, but to enrich young people’s lives.
The opportunities and challenges don’t end after young people leave education, making it so important that they have all the necessary skills, independence, determination, will power and team work to take opportunity when they see it and overcome challenges when faced with them.