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Top Awards Conference 2018

Below is an overview of all the aspects of the conference that hopefully summarises a lot of the learning from the day. The day consisted of a plenary presentation, discussion groups, workshops and peer support group sessions.

Awards discussed as part of the Top Awards Conference:

Plenary Presentation

The morning plenary session shared some key highlights and important changes.

Successes: What a year!

What’s coming?

Hot Topics


What do the numbers look like?

Conference attendees were asked to RAG rate their County/Area/Country on how they thought their numbers were. They were then given a copy of their census figures and asked the same question. Many attendees changed their answer from their numbers being ‘great’ or ‘not too bad’ to ‘needs work’ after viewing their census figures.

Due to the inaccuracies of figures for many of the top awards, attendees were given a copy of their County/Area/Country numbers for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards as an example of data; due to this being the most accurate data we have available.

The DofE data was available for both 2017 and the first 3 quarters of 2018 as completion data and also award started. The data was also broken down into quarters (January-March, April-June, etc.). This gave attendees the opportunity to compare how their numbers were in more detail and come up with an action plan for how to match or exceed their 2017 by the end of 2018.

Attendees were also split into groups of Counties/Areas/Counties with a similar number of young people in the Explorer Scout and Scout Network sections as an opportunity to network and see whether they were experiencing the same types of challenges and successes.

Challenges, Successes and Opportunities

A number of challenges, successes and opportunities; both at a local and national level, were shared by attendees. An overview of this is available here.


Top awards as part of a high quality programme

This workshop focussed on what a high quality top award programme should be. Some key aspects were:

A Quality Programme should be Challenging, Relevant and Rewarding for every young person. Quality Programme Checkers help with reviewing the programme to make sure it is high quality and balanced. These can be found here.

Overseas expeditions and Explorer Belt

This workshops covered the key things to remember when running an overseas expedition, including the Explorer Belt. The following is just some of the areas discussed:

Accessible expeditions and variations

This workshop focussed on how to ensure expeditions for top awards are accessible to all young people and understanding how to be flexible to suit the needs to an individual young person. Here are some key points:

More information on Reasonable Adjustments can be found here. The DofE has guidance around additional needs here.

Don’t be afraid to ask if you are unsure on how to make your expeditions accessible for all. You can contact us at info.centre@scouts.org.uk or use the Facebook pages below to get advice from other volunteers.

Utilising young people to promote the top awards

This workshop allowed idea sharing on how to utilise young people to promote the top awards to other young people. There was a huge variety of ideas, many of which are already being used locally. Ideas included:

There are many more ways that you can utilise young people to promote the top awards, if you have more suggestions then please do share them with one another on the Facebook pages below.

QSA Registration Process changes

At the Top Awards Conference we consulted with members about the proposal to remove the HQ QSA registration process. Following this the decision has been made that the requirement to register nationally and back date activities up to three months for the QSA will be removed from the 1st November 2018 onwards. We introduced this requirement to help put members in touch with local contacts and access support, which it achieves but we believe there is a more local solution, as nationally it has become a barrier to members achieving the award.  In order to keep the process as simple as possible we are now removing the national registration requirement and the 3 month limit to backdating activities. The full details and FAQs can be found here.

DofE National SASU Manager Vacancy

We are now recruiting a National DofE Scout Active Support Unit Manager, which is a key role in coordinating the management and delivery of quality training to adults within the Scouts who support and deliver the DofE programme to young people.

How to apply
View the Volunteer Pack and send your completed application form by midnight on Wednesday 28 November 2018. Applications should be sent to dofe@scouts.org.uk.

GO Outdoors

Our partner, GO Outdoors, attended the conference to share useful information and resources they have that support our top awards. Their presentation can be found here.
Here’s a useful Awards and Expeditions Kit List and a guide to Awards and Expeditions.
Contact GO Outdoors at groupsales@gooutdoors.co.uk

Inclusive awards

The last task of the day was to get attendees thinking about how at both a local and national level we can make the top awards more inclusive and also how we can help young people that don’t think they can achieve to achieve their award(s). Suggestions from the group discussions can be found here.

Further Support

If you have any enquiries or questions there are a number of places to go for support:
General – info.centre@scouts.org.uk
Top Awards – programme@scouts.org.uk
DofE – dofe@scouts.org.uk

There are also some volunteer run Facebook groups that may be able to provide you with peer support:



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