Supporting Adults in the Award

Published: 3 May 2019

The three Frameworks of Governance, Operations and the Award have been in place for a number of years now, and all members of the Association have been working hard to strengthen their organisations within these areas.

The Foundation is also looking at how it can help Association members in this, through multiple initiatives, tools and projects. One such project is ‘Supporting Adults in the Award’.

Back in April last year, a brief overview of the work being carried out was posted on this link. Not much more has been publicly communicated about the project since then, but work has been carrying on in the background with various contributors from within the Association to get us to a place where we can start involving more operators.

A more detailed update on the work to date, and timelines for the future will come as part of the new ‘Need to Know’ Briefing Pack. For now, though, I want to share the thinking behind the project.

The ‘Supporting Adults in the Award’ project is centred on increasing the number of adults in all areas of the Award and making sure we have the right people in the right place doing the right work to help deliver the Award to young people.

The majority of these adults are Award Leaders, or volunteers supporting Award Leaders. We know through our annual statistics that we have around 65,000 Award Leaders who each support an average of twenty Award participants. They also enlist the help of between four and six additional volunteers who help to run the Award in their respective Units. The Association has about 400,000 adults involved in the delivery of the Award in total.

But there’s more to it than that; across the Association there are also thousands of other adults who work with adults; operations managers, national operator staff, trainers, trustees and other volunteers who all support our Award Leaders on an operational level either directly or indirectly.

The thinking is that we should have something in place that recognises all of these roles, and put in place appropriate learning opportunities for them in order to bring people on board, get them up to speed quickly and support their development throughout their service with the Award. If we can do this, we can scale our operations to benefit more young people than ever before.

Putting this into a global perspective, if we want to reach 1% of the current eligible youth market in the countries in which we currently operate , we need a six fold increase in the current number of Award Leaders delivering the Award.  Each Award Operator will also need to grow their staff teams to support those Award Leaders. We also need those leading and governing Award Operators to balance growing with sustainable ways of working.

To scale to this level of participation, operators have told us that we need to streamline some of the work we all do; the more aligned the work, the easier it’ll be to replicate it across local, national or international geographies. We do need to consider local context, though, as it’s equally important in making Award delivery effective. 

With this in mind, we’ve been working with members of the Association to identify tasks and responsibilities of Delivery, Operational and Governance roles in the Award family. We’ve then translated them to competencies, knowledge and behaviours before putting together training programmes for these groups.

We’ve also been looking at how we can help increase the amount of people trained to deliver the Award by building a new online platform. We’ve spent the last year asking Association members for their thoughts on functionality and are now scoping the build. My hope is that we’ll be able to showcase the platform at regional conferences and ask for feedback before finalising the build. It should be noted though, that we want to work with each Award Operator who wants to adopt the training and the platform individually to make sure that its right for the context of their markets. This means working to create bespoke training modules to complement ‘standard’ ones, and translating materials to local languages.

We’re not looking to charge anything for all of this. With a bit of luck, we’ll also be able to help National Operators to fund the uptake of these initiatives. This does come with a catch, though; the Learning and Development team at the Foundation only have so much capacity, and we’ll only be able to work with a small number of operators at any given time.

After a trial period with early adopters during the course of the UK summer months, we are looking to make the training programmes and platform more widely accessible to the Association from September 2019 onwards. Keep an eye out for more information in due course. 


Gareth Mitchell

Director of People Management

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation