The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh award or just as the ‘IA’, is run in over 100 countries around the world! It is a personal development programme for young people aged 14 – 25 with 3 award levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Here at GIS, we’ve been running the IA since 1989 – that’s over 20 years! The Award is voluntary but very popular: this academic year we have had over 120 students involved, making our IA programme one of the largest in the country!
At each level of the Award, students have to complete four compulsory components: Physical Recreation; Skill; Service & Adventurous Journey. In all components, the participants have to show commitment to their chosen projects, hobbies or sports. The ‘Adventurous Journey’ involves students undertaking an outdoor expedition in a group, which becomes lengthier and more challenging as they progress through the levels of the Award.
Where has the IA programme taken our students this year?
Bronze (Year 10)
Our Bronze participants learn essential outdoor survival skills from their Award Leaders during a weekly CCA, before embarking on their first expedition.
Their first trip is a practice expedition to FRIM, where they stay at Kem Perah (2D/1N). Our very own Year 12 & 13 Gold students help lead the younger Bronze level students, as part of their Expedition Leadership Award.
The second Bronze expedition is in Kuala Kubu Bharu (3D/2N). Students get to experience a mixture of outdoor activities including trekking, basic navigation and white-water rafting! A highlight for the team this year was getting all 56 students to the top of Bukit Kutu.
Silver (Year 11)
At Silver level, our IA participants go to Gunung Ledang National Park for their practice trip (4D/3N). This trip involves a challenging climb and a night walk to reach the main summit for sunrise. Students only have access to the natural jungle and the resources it provides for two nights. They must be purely self sufficient and carry all of their equipment!
For their final trip, students travelled to Gopeng and Cameron Highlands for a 4D/3N adventure, where their mental and physical fitness was pushed further still in a series of exciting but challenging tests. This included rafting down some fast flowing rapids and challenging their capacity for heights – tree climbing with ropes! .
Gold (Years 12 & 13)
The Gold Award is considerably more demanding than Bronze & Silver. It is suited for real outdoor enthusiasts who like a challenge and aren’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone.
The practice adventurous journey (5D/4N) takes place in Hong Kong, where our Gold participants trek along the scenic MacLehose Trail in the Sai Kung area. Most nights on this expedition are spent wild camping away from the crowds and students are totally self-sufficient for the whole duration of their trip.
The practice trip and all the award levels that come before it are essential for preparing the Gold level award students for their final challenge, which this year saw them undertake a week-long expedition in Taiwan, where they were pushed through to summit Mount Nanhu In Taroko National Park – an awesome achievement for all involved.
Why is the IA so valuable?
Whether a student is working towards their Bronze, Silver or Gold Award, they are undoubtedly going to gain skills, experiences and friendships to last them a lifetime. In fact, many of our GIS Alumni refer back to the IA as the programme that had the most profound impact on them during their time in school.
The Award teaches students valuable learner skills that include independent thought, problem-solving, teamwork and leadership skills. Personally, it helps students to learn how to become self-sufficient, build resilience, and teaches them the value of commitment as they undertake a sport, skill and service project. As a result, the Award is highly regarded by university admissions teams all over the world, giving participants a competitive edge – no matter what undergraduate degree they are applying for.
In addition, there are many additional benefits of ‘getting outdoors’ through the ‘Adventurous Journey’ section of the Award. As well as being great for students’ physical health, these expeditions help build self esteem, resilience, and a range of practical life skills.
Celebrating IA Success
At the end of each academic year, we celebrate all participants’ progress and achievement at our annual IA Awards Evening. Bronze, Silver and Gold participants have the opportunity to be presented with their Awards in a ceremony attended by their teachers and parents.
To learn more about the benefits of outdoor activities and how they can benefit your child, take a look at our recent piece on the value of outdoor education.
At GIS, our International Award programme is run by Mr Ronan Jezequel. If you’d like to learn more about the programme, or find out how to get your child involved for the 2019-2020 academic year, get in touch with him at email@example.com.