• A leading North Wales college has become one of the top Duke of Edinburgh’s Award providers in the country

A leading North Wales college has become one of the top Duke of Edinburgh’s Award providers in the country after attracting 20 times more students than it did two years ago.

Coleg Cambria now has more than 100 participants in its DofE scheme, compared to just a handful in 2015/16.

The college subsidises places on the bronze, silver and gold qualification for all students under the age of 25 across its north east Wales sites.

Those studying on Independent Living Skills programmes are also able to join the Award scheme, as is anyone under the age of 25.

Paula Wood, Assistant Principal and Director of Curriculum, said they recognised the importance of marrying the DofE with the college’s curriculum to “enrich the lives” of their learners.

“We are now the largest and most successful Welsh FE provider of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award,” said Paula.

“We believe it’s really important and has helped to enrich the lives of our students, developing their skills for the future.

“That’s why we provide it for them, as many may not have had these opportunities previously.”

She added: “Glan Llyn Outdoor Activity Centre in Snowdonia is one of our key partners, for the DofE expeditions but also as a residential setting for our learners.

“Getting young people out of the classroom and into a different environment supports our Active Cambria campaign in promoting health and wellbeing, fitness, community spirit and mindfulness.

“Essentially, we are giving young people the skills that will ensure they are part of a resilient and sustainable workforce, instilling values that will be with them for the rest of their lives.”

Stephanie Price, Regional Director of the DofE in Wales, congratulated the college for its provision and confirmed the meteoric rise.

“Since Coleg Cambria took on a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award licence across all of its campuses, the delivery of the programme has grown and now young people from all departments have the opportunity to take part,” she said.

“The college has invested with the result that it saw the highest number of young people enrolling on a DofE programme of any FE college in Wales.”

Paula believes the development of Cambria’s talented staff helped boost their DofE numbers.

Among them was Alan Lowry, who had spent 26 years in the Armed Forces – including spells in Bosnia, Germany and Northern Ireland – before joining Cambria.

He says soft skills and training students to enjoy different challenges will have a major impact on their later lives.

“I think it’s helped many of them to develop as people , not just students, giving them experiences they would not have anywhere else,” said Alan.

“That includes team work, communication, cooking and a multitude of other attributes they can take forward with them.”

Paula added: “If our students are eating healthily, doing the right things and being prepared for what comes after college it puts them in a better position to maintain a career and a balanced life, which in the future will impact on their families and communities.

“We recognised that a qualification was simply not enough, we needed to give them more than that, and have.”

To find out more about the DofE and Active Cambria, visit www.cambria.ac.uk/cambria-life/active-cambria and www.dofe.org/wales

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