October 2017


  • Rooting for you
    Geoff Barton welcomes leaders to the new academic year and shares ASCL's renewed ambition and optimism to remain true to its roots, and serve all members. More
  • Don't be a hero
    Does school and college leadership really matter? World-renowned educationalist Professor John Hattie says yes, but it has to be the right type of leadership. More
  • Redo the maths
    Welcome though it is, the National Funding Formula requires a more sophisticated level of calculation if it is to reflect the real cost to schools of providing a worthwhile education, say Sam Ellis, Susan Fielden and Julia Harnden. More
  • Aiming higher
    Headmaster Walter Boyle says helping students to develop soft skills as well as encouraging successful academic grades can benefit staff and students alike. More
  • Changing places
    Teacher shortages and the developing role of multi-academy trusts (MATs) are two highly important issues for current education policy. Senior Economist Jack Worth says that research suggests that MATs are successfully deploying staff effectively across schools. More
  • Vital support
    Member support is the backbone of ASCL's work. Director Richard Tanton says it's been a busy year for his team, advising and representing leaders in a challenging education landscape. More
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Headmaster Walter Boyle says helping students to develop soft skills as well as encouraging successful academic grades can benefit staff and students alike.

Aiming higher

In today’s society, skills such as communication, time management and teamwork are often hard to come by but for those who do have them, they shine brighter than most. In my mind, these skills are developed from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and facing new and exciting challenges.

At the heart of our school is a pastoral care system that is second to none. We are committed to supporting students’ emotional and spiritual development and live and breathe this ethos, even in the smallest aspects of our day-to-day life and interactions. It helps that the staff within our boarding school are passionate about providing support and help to enable all of our pupils to develop strong personal relationships between themselves and with others; in doing so, we hope that we give every young person a strong sense of their own self-worth.

With that in mind, we made the decision just over a year ago to start delivering The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) at our school, Holyport College, a co-educational day and boarding school in Berkshire sponsored by Eton College.

Creating well-rounded individuals

Our timetable is based on that of a traditional boarding school, so there is a longer day, but we see this as indicative of the importance that we place on the development of the whole student – academic, physical and personal. We believe in a holistic education, combined with a strong community spirit, and in giving all of our students the tools that they need to go on to lead independent, purposeful and fulfilled adult lives. HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh founded the DofE in 1956 and he himself said; “It is what I like to call a do-it-yourself growing up kit.”

The DofE provides students with the opportunity to set and achieve goals over a broad range of activities, becoming well-rounded individuals. Achieving things they wouldn’t previously have thought possible encourages our students to aim higher in all aspects of their school and personal life. Over the course of their DofE programme, a young person demonstrates that s/he is willing to commit, that s/ he is driven and determined and that s/he has a ‘can do’ attitude. This lays a great path for his/ her future, fostering a work ethic and attitude that many employers and universities will look for in applicants.

At Holyport College we have a joint DofE leadership that is split between the head of humanities and one of our fantastic teaching assistants, along with the support of many other staff members who volunteer their time. Both leaders regularly tell me that they have really noticed the positive impact that the DofE has had on their students as well as the school and teaching staff as a whole – not to mention the benefits that they themselves as staff have seen through developing new skills, while enhancing their own professional development.

Teaching Assistant Jane commented, “Many of our students across all year groups are now asking about DofE and how/when they can sign-up. The students who have participated are really pleased to have achieved their DofE and many of them wear their badge with pride on their blazers. There are plenty of new members of staff who are keen to help out when they hear that we offer DofE and those who volunteered last year are still happy to be involved. It is great for both personal and professional development for both students and staff.”

In our first year of delivering DofE, we saw a 93% completion rate, with 78 students achieving their Bronze DofE Awards. We now offer Bronze and Silver DofE and we hope to offer Gold DofE as we look to expand the programme to incorporate our sixth form students.

The great outdoors

My team of staff and I are keen for the students to get outside, go walking, learn how to put a tent up and read a map (a paper one). Countless studies have examined the benefits of taking education outside of the classroom and how it can benefit students and teachers by stimulating an interest in learning about the environment, which can support traditional indoor learning methods.

With today’s young people being social media obsessed, introducing the DofE as an extra-curricular programme was something we wanted to do and now we find that our students are showing interest in learning new skills, developing old ones and creating new friendships, which may not be the case if they were sat in front of a screen.

We have different ways of helping students log their progress and we’ve issued a colour-coded spreadsheet to students, form teachers and learning support assistants to show how participants are progressing with their programmes. We also reward the first few students to get all of their activity sections signed off by offering house points as an incentive and a way to publicly celebrate their achievements within the school.

The DofE provides an opportunity for young people to achieve more for themselves; as well as developing new skills, it helps build confidence and gain a sense of satisfaction and increases both physical and mental wellbeing. We do encourage high achievement academically but we know that this goes hand in hand with ensuring that all of our students leave Holyport equipped with skills for life. That is what the DofE offers.

The students who have participated are really pleased to have achieved their Duke of edinburgh and many of them wear their badge with pride on their blazers.- Comment from Jane, Teaching Assistant at Holyport college


Find out how your school or college can get involved. See www.DofE.org

Walter Boyle
Headmaster at Holyport College in Berkshire