Working with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme is a way of getting children into your tower to learn to ring. You will normally have six to twelve months to “get them hooked”. The scheme can also be used to accelerate the development of children who already ring.

Making it a success

Send emails to the secondary schools in your local area at the start of the Autumn term reminding them that church bell ringing is on the list for the skills section. You can also send posters for them to put up around the school. The email should include tower contact details and a brief summary of what training is available locally. Alternatively contact your local D of E Centre or Organiser. A pro-active D of E school coordinator always helps.

Consider training children as a group or in a tower with other children. Keep practices varied to keep them interested and make the tower a fun place to be. Nice easy bells to learn on definitely helps.

You'll need good ringing teachers and helpers. Those who have experience of working with children (teachers, Scout and Guide leaders) are particularly beneficial.

Your role

Children are expected to commit to regular activities averaging at least an hour a week during their time on the scheme. Don’t feel pressurised to sign if they don’t fulfill this commitment.

However good a teacher you are, and however welcoming your band, there will be some attrition, as these children are primarily coming into your tower to learn a skill for a period, not because they really want to ring. So some will leave as soon as they complete their skills section. Some will however “get the bug” and continue ringing for the rest of their lives.

A Facebook request for teachers’ experiences of the D of E Awards scheme produced a roughly equal mix of successes and failures (children disappearing after their report had been signed). Those who were supportive of, and used, the scheme for recruitment tended to take the view that “it’s fun to teach children” and “it’s an investment in the future”. They felt good about teaching children – full stop.

The Positive

My two daughters learned through D of E, I got bored just sitting there so I learned too. We are all still ringing 9 or 10 years later.

I taught a 13 year old and he picked it up really quickly and rang very well; couple of quarters and striking competitions. Guild Young Ringer of the Year. He soon dropped the D of E but continued ringing, even at university. It was worth doing to put another decent ringer into the pool even though we have not gained him as a long term ringer here.

Several of our teenage ringers have offered it as a Skill for Bronze, Silver and Gold. So far they’re all still ringing! Some started from scratch, others improved their ringing/learnt new methods. You just have to work hard to keep them interested and make the tower a fun place to be.

My daughter, who was already ringing, taught her friend to ring, both of which went towards their D of E Awards.

The Negative

My experience of D of E is mixed. You can get people who learn and stick with it. However what tends to happen is that ringing is used as one of the ancillary learn something new skills, and these tend to get swapped out whilst you retain a core skill/hobby, as you progress from Bronze to Silver and Gold.

They often start around Year 10 and then decide in Year 11 that GCSEs [or the opposite sex**] should take preference. No doubt a few will keep going – but usually where the family is already attached to the church.
** Sorry if this offends anyone!!

We taught 8 Adventure Scouts through the scheme. It was hard teaching so many, but they stayed for 2 years and we got 2 through a quarter peal. Then they all left. I would do it again, it was fun but we did not “hook” them.

Harrow D of E Speech Day 2017

Success at Harrow

Here at St Mary’s Harrow on the Hill, we’ve had some good experiences of D of E ringing over the past decade. Being adjacent to Harrow School helps (as does the fact that I work at the school), so we have a relatively easy “recruitment channel”, drawing around four new recruits each year. The track record throughout D of E and post-D of E is pretty good. Here’s a flavour …

Christopher O’Mahony

Andrew's first quarter peal

Duke of Edinburgh Success

We are following the Learning the Ropes scheme for all our new recruits. This enables us to have a consistent approach in teaching at all levels and we find that it is very easy to accommodate the D of E award scheme. We meet with the candidate and ask what they would like to achieve in the set timescales. In Andrew's case he selected his objectives and we agreed that they would demonstrate commitment and progress as required by the scheme. For someone new to ringing, the teacher needs to assess the potential and guide the candidate in their choices, but using LtR can help at whatever level is required.

Philip George

What's next?

» Return to the recruitment and retention home page

» Return to read more about other groups you can work with

» Central Council advice on the D of E Awards Scheme