The UK's education system works around academic achievements. Not all students are academic, which is why having extra awards added to their records of achievement (curriculum vitae) will show future employers that they are capable, and therefore deserve to be considered. In this article, it will talk about three outdoor awards that students can achieve. Helping them to develop a multitude of life skills, which will prepare them for life's challenges.

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

Aesop Jr (considered the originator for this quote)

Junior Award Scheme for Schools (JASS)

Since 2010, JASS has been helping schools by providing an accredited learning programme, which has been designed to recognise wider achievements and also help pupils transition from primary to secondary education.

This scheme focuses at the age range of 10 - 14 but understands that in certain circumstances a school may wish to start earlier or prolong a level, due to the needs of their pupils. The scheme has eight levels that you can be part of from 'white' through to 'gold' and each level has four sections, which are:

  • My Interests – a new hobby, interest or one that you can develop
  • Get Active, Stay Active – a physical activity or team/individual sport
  • Me and My World – an environmental or community project
  • Adventure – an adventurous outdoor team challenge

For more information about this award, click here.

John Muir Award

The John Muir Trust developed an environmental award in 1997, to make people more aware of the natural world, where wild places are regarded and secured, where nature thrives and where everyone values the benefit of wildness.

The award focuses on those at the later stage of primary education and beyond. It has three levels (discovery - 4 days, explorer - 8 days, and conserver - 20 days) that you can do and each level has four challenges, which are:

  • Discover a wild place
  • Explore its wildness
  • Conserve and take responsibility
  • Share your experiences

For more information about this award, click here.

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award

HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, founded The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) in 1956. They wanted this award to have positive impacts on the participants’ lives, in terms of their development, employability, and society.

The DofE is for all young people aged from 14-24 years old. They can be part of this amazing award, which is valued by employers, colleges and universities. There are three levels (Bronze, Silver, and Gold) that you can do, and each level has the four sections below, Gold also has a Residential section (5 days and 4 nights away from home).

These are:

  • Physical
  • Volunteering
  • Skills
  • Expedition
  • Residential (only at Gold level)

For more information about the DofE, click here.

Academic Achievements vs Real World Experience

While its clear that having academic achievements (qualifications) gives future employers the knowledge of what skills and topics that person has covered, it doesn't give them any understanding of how developed their soft skills are.

It is essential that you know how to do certain tasks for a particular job, but it is equally important that you can:

  • work well with others (positive relationships/teamwork)
  • communicate effectively (positive communication)
  • have good time keeping (responsible)
  • have a good work ethic (respectful)
  • be motivated towards their own work (hard-working)  

These skills will only be developed through opportunities within schools that focus on the hidden curriculum, or through the awards shown above, that create opportunities and real world experiences, which help you to develop making you more well-rounded and employable.

Take a look at our hidden curriculum activities.