Duke of Edinburgh Award


The Duke of Edinburgh Award is a voluntary, non-competitive programme of practical, cultural and adventurous activities, designed to support the personal and social development of our student’s. It offers an individual challenge and encourages young people to undertake exciting, constructive, challenging and enjoyable activities in their free time.

We currently have students working towards their GOLD, SILVER and BRONZE AWARDS.

 All the awards involve students participating in the following areas for different lengths of time depending on which award they are working towards:

  • Voluntary work
  • Skill
  • Physical activity
  • Expedition
  • Residential (Gold only)


Locations for the expeditions


Leighton Buzzard/Woburn/Brickhills/Ashridge/Ivinghoe


Derbyshire – White Peak Area


Lake District/Snowdonia



Letters/information about future expeditions



Saturday 23rd September - Sunday 24th September 2017

General information letter issued 05/09/17


Duke of Edinburgh information leaflet February 2017

Kit list

How to pack a rucksack







Gold Assessed Expedition - July 2016

On 2nd July, myself and the rest of the team bundled into the Vandyke minibus for an 8 hour drive (fun) to the Lake District in Cumbria. Our first night was spent watching football and eating at a restaurant - which felt like our last proper meal before expedition began the following morning.

The first day was the most challenging, with all of us scrambling with our heavy rucksacks battling rain and wind to reach the summit of Scafell Pike, which felt like a huge achievement. The following day we trekked around Buttermere where Kieran attempted to be macho by running through the bog… which ended up as a complete failure as he slid and fell face first, leading to a quick clothes change; this was by far the highlight of the trip for me! The day got worse when we got to the campsite and it was pouring with rain. We ended up cooking dinner on a trailer and eating it underneath by the wheels - mmm cold pasta!

Day 3 saw us all trek up Fleetwith Pike; unfortunately we had an injury halfway up which saw the whole team half carry Hannah up the Pike, as well as her bag and morale! However, the day became amazing as the campsite we were staying in had lovely views and WARM SHOWERS, but was full of midges which attacked us when we were trying to eat our porridge!

The final day saw us go up and over Catcalls and through Keswick, where we had beautiful views of all the lakes and hills. Morale was high as we knew the end was in sight… a McDonalds at the service station on the way home and listening to “Uptown Girl” for hours. I couldn’t be happier with the team I was in, as we all worked so well together, dividing up roles and generally taking the mick out of each other for 4 days. The team will re-unite at Christmas for a meal.

Steph Dawson
Year 13 student

Gold Assessed Expedition - August 2014

Seven Vandyke students travelled to the Lake District National Park to complete their Duke of Edinburgh's Gold award expedition between the 27th - 31st August. After a 400 mile journey in the minibus we arrived at Wasdale Head, our campsite for the first two nights. Although the camp site was set in a beautiful location, we found it hard to enjoy the scenery in strong winds and torrential rain. After meeting our assessor and enjoying a meal in the Wasdale Head Inn we turned in for the night, it was at this point that the horror soon began to unfold. We had the worst night of our lives and were able to enjoy a night in high winds and torrential rain!

Our first day of walking started early and unfortunately the rain had not eased off at all. Nevertheless, our adventure began at 9am and we began our ascent to the summit of Scaffel Pike. Our pace as a team dropped because of the appalling weather and the difficulty of the task we were undertaking. Day one was a very miserable day for many of us and we spent a lot of time wondering why we had chosen to do this! Our day perked up when we reached the summit of Scaffel Pike, we had just achieved something incredible and we began our descent feeling rather proud of ourselves. On the way down and the weather cleared up for us so we could pitch our tents and cook in the dry.

Day two began in a very similar way to day one – torrential rain and howling wind. Our pace as a team was fantastic and we covered ground very quickly which gave us a huge morale boost. We reached the camp site in good time and after pitching our tents in the dry we took refuge in the storm shelter at the camp site. This gave us the perfect opportunity to get everything dry before another challenging day of walking!

Day three was the most challenging day of our expedition for us as a team. We had difficulty in finding the footpaths and we had to adapt our route due to an injury. Adapting the route proved to be a fantastic decision because it gave us the opportunity to climb Cat Bells. Braitwaite Bridges campsite was true luxury and we were all able to enjoy a hot shower. Day three was my birthday so we celebrated this with cake and a camp fire! As Mr Workman so beautifully put it, “What better way to spend your birthday than in mud, rain and misery!

The team rose at 5am on our final day. The entire team were motivated by the fact that we were going to be having a McDonalds on the way home and the thought that we didn't have to put our bedrooms up when we got home!

DofE promises a challenge and like every expedition, it certainly delivered a challenge for all of us. Weather, terrain and altitude were all huge challenges for us on this expedition, not to mention the constant worry of having wet sleeping bags. We had achieved something to be proud of, our DofE adventure was now over. With just a little bit more hard work to complete all the other sections, our DofE Gold awards will be finished and we'll get the honour of going to St James's Palace to collect them.

Once again, we would like to thank Mrs Green, Mr Workman and Miss Gibbs who dedicate huge amounts of their own time to give Vandyke students the opportunity to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme. Expeditions like this take huge amounts of planning and organisation so we'd like to thank all three members of staff for their hard work and commitment to extra curricular activities at Vandyke.

Matt Nash

Gold Practice Expedition – July 2014

The end of the summer term is traditionally a time for winding down and beginning to kick back, but this was definitely not the case for six Vandyke students who travelled to Snowdonia National Park to complete their Duke of Edinburgh Gold award practice expedition between the 19th - 23rd July. Duke of Edinburgh is more than just a walk round the countryside; it's a challenge at every single stage of the process. Completing the four sections (Volunteering, Skill, Physical Recreation and Residential) is not in any way easy and the planning and preparation for the expedition takes months. After such a long time in the planning, sitting on the minibus gave us a strange realisation that DofE Gold was actually real and we were on our way!

After a white-knuckle ride in the minibus through the Welsh mountains, we arrived at our first campsite the night before our adventure began and the team set about their final preparations for the expedition. The highlight of the first night in Snowdonia was our trip to a local restaurant where we enjoyed our last civilised meal before we began to live off of boil in the bag food.

The next day saw the start of our great adventure, and my god were we in for a tough day. We had 23 kilometres to cover by the end of the day and by 11am a heavy fog had come down and made navigation a real struggle. By the time we found the minibus, we were very far behind schedule. Miss Gibbs spent the rest of the afternoon walking with us, and she taught us some valuable lessons about taking part in an expedition like this. The weather had caused us real problems today, so our route was cut short and we had never been so glad to see the minibus as we were at the end of day one! After another short journey in the minibus we arrived at our campsite where we pitched our tents and began to dry our boots under the hand dryers in the toilet block. The second day was by far and away the most exciting day for the entire team, we were climbing Mount Snowdon today! Along the way, we were treated to some breathtaking views from a considerable height. By lunchtime we had climbed Mount Snowdon! A massive sense of achievement and pride set in across the team, this was literally the high point of the day. It was at this point that we realised we were the first ever group of Vandyke DofE students to summit Snowdon. As we began our descent, one member of team began to feel unwell and so all our emergency training kicked in as the team worked together to get one member of the team down the mountain to safety.  The teamwork was simply outstanding and when we were all safely at the bottom of Snowdon, we were able to reflect upon our excellent teamwork.

Day three saw the demonstration of yet more outstanding teamwork as another member of the team was injured and we had to work together to bring her down a steep hill to safety. After a review of our route to make it accessible and achievable for all members of the team, we set off on a beautiful walk alongside a lake. We were rewarded with yet more staggering views of Snowdonia as we arrived at our final campsite. The team rose early on day four and pulled down our tents for the final time, it was unanimously agreed that we would not miss pitching tents when we returned home. We were on the move by 8am and with a high level of morale and lots of banter, we made storming progress. We made one small navigation error on day four but this worked out for the best and we were able to make our final lunch stop in a shaded part of some woodland. After lunch we carried on through the forest where we were greeted by the sight of the minibus waiting to take us all home.

An expedition promises a challenge and we can safely say that it delivered a challenge for every single one of us. The challenging aspects of the trip were endless: carrying and cooking our own food, pitching a tent every night staying healthy and hygienic and having to remember how to tie a bandage! The smallest challenges seemed like the biggest ones to us, a prime example of this is having to live out of a rucksack for five days and going without a shower for far too many days!

Before we ventured to Snowdonia our team was made up of people who hardly knew each other. During the course of the expedition we all bonded incredibly well. The team spirit and the banter within the team will be our abiding memory of this trip! What makes a trip like this are the people and we can safely say that was the case here.

We would like to thank Mrs Green for all the hours she devotes to managing the Duke of Edinburgh's award here at Vandyke. Her hard work, commitment and dedication cannot be faulted and without Mrs Green the chance to achieve a Duke of Edinburgh award would not be possible!

Matt Nash



For me the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award had been one of the most rewarding experiences to date.

The four sections; volunteering, skill, physical recreation and residential all develop different skills and help you become the person you strive to be.

All the sections have allowed me to develop all my personal qualities such as leader ship, teamwork, self-confidence and most importantly the award has been enjoyable and fun.

One of the key parts to achieving the award is commitment and perseverance. The award does take time and does require you to push your-self further, maybe more than you normally would, but for me all the hard work and commitment has all been worth it.

Employers today look for all the above skills when seeking employees. For my interview for my university course most of the time was taken up by the interviewer asking me questions about completing my Duke of Edinburgh award and what I felt I had achieved. Not only can the award help you at a personal level but it is also very recognised by both employers and universities.

One of the best parts about my D of E was collecting the award from Prince Edward at St James Palace. Upon entering the palace you walk through the various rooms and I was in the Drawing Room. One very recognisable thing about the inside of the palace is the amount of gold that covers the walls, doors and window frames. There is a short ceremony where you meet the Duke or a Prince and then you receive your certificate. You are also joined by a special guest and there were celebrities such as Johanna Lumley, Theo Paphitis and Michael Palin.

For me the award has helped me at a personal level and has opened up many opportunities for me that never would have been there if I hadn't participated in the award. The D of E is a personal challenge and it asks only for you to do the best you can.