The Youth Development Agency
The Youth Development Agency
  • 7 Tips for Getting your Award Participants Completed (before the end of the school year)

    Spring is a busy time for everyone in education. With exams just around the corner and deadlines looming there is already plenty to do each day. For you as an Award Leader this time of year can be even more busy and stressful. You’ve only just gotten through your Adventurous Journeys for the year and now you’ve got an Award ceremony to pull off before the end of the school year. Is it even possible?

    Getting your participants finished and Awards approved is not something that can be left to the last minute. Even while there are several things outside of your control, being organized and ahead of the curve is the best way to ensure that you have everything done in time for your ceremony. The following tips should help to get you there.

    1. Check your participants’ progress

    Sit down with each participant and check their progress. This is easier if they are using the ORB but much more difficult if they are not. It is common practice in many schools to not register participants on the ORB until they are practically finished. But this approach may hold some unpleasant surprises if participation in their activities has been less consistent than the ORB requires. Even before the end of March you really need to know who realistically can finish their Award before the end of the school year and then focus more of your attention on those.

    2. Get their ORB records up to date… now!

    We’ve heard it said more than once that the hardest part of completing the Award is the ORB. Because of this, many leaders (and most participants) leave their ORB entries until the end and try to do a binge entry session to get everything up to date before submitting their Award for approval. Avoiding the ORB for as long as possible may seem like a good way to stay sane, but eventually you will need to deal with it. Do that now, even before most participants are finished, so that the load is spread over as much time as possible.

    3. Get extra help

    The level of detail required for Award approval makes it very time consuming for a leader to manage the ORB progress for anything more than a small number of participants. An extra few sets of hands and eyes can go a long way in checking ORB records for completeness. If you can get even a few additional helpers to look over participant records and document any shortcomings, that can save you time in getting records up to scratch.

    4. Submit your records early

    The quantity of Awards to approve by the Award Foundation, especially in the April, May June period is enormous. That volume means that the approval process can appear to be extremely slow. The only way to overcome this is to get your records in early. Any Awards submitted after the end of April could very easily not be approved until June or July, which may be too late for your Award ceremony.

    5. Make sure your ORB records are very, very complete

    But even if your Awards are submitted early, there is a high likelihood that some (or even many) could be rejected or queried. This is why it is essential that you not submit any Awards that have not been checked carefully for completeness. It is much more efficient for you as the Award Leader to send something back to a participant for correction than it is to do so if a problem arises later in the approval process.

    Every ORB record must have a very high level of detail in order to be approved. Below are the key elements being watched for in the approvals office:

    1.  A clear description of what activity was done for each Section – This requires a meaningful and descriptive name for the activity as well as a clear definition of what was achieved through the activity.
    2. Activities must fit correctly in their section – This means absolutely no physical or sports activities being passed off as Skills activities.
    3. SMART goals for each activity – Goals must be very specific and measureable with some commentary on how and whether those goals were achieved.
    4. Assessor names for each activity – Without Assessor names in place, or if the entered names don’t match with the names on the log sheets then a record is likely to be sent back.
    5. Uploaded log sheets for each activity – Log sheets must not only be signed, but the Assessor must have written a comment in relation to the participant.
    6. Log entries must have a description of what was done each session – It is not enough to just have the dates and amount of time spent on the activity each session.
    7. Additional uploaded evidence – For the Adventurous Journey, either the presentation or pictures related to the presentation must be uploaded. For the Residential Project, any evidence that can be uploaded to explain the activity and show how it meets the criteria will be valuable (i.e. programme schedule, registration form, activity website information)

    In all of these, the objective is to eliminate the need for the person approving your Awards to ask any questions. Complete information saves everyone time.

    6. Check your materials levels and order from Award Scheme Limited

    Good news, your Awards are all submitted. But if you don’t have sufficient certificates and pins for those completing you still may have a problem. Check your stock levels and get your order in to ASL well in advance. And while you are at it, make sure you are up to date with your license and ORB fees payments, as any outstanding bills will delay your order being shipped to you.

    7. Have a ‘Plan B’

    With all of the challenges of getting Awards submitted and approved, it may just be that you won’t get all of your participants approved before your planned Award ceremony at the end of the school year. So it is good to have a Plan B in place to do your ceremony in the autumn if necessary, or to otherwise get your Awards to your participants as soon as they have been approved. Make sure your school administrators know that Award approvals are out of your hands once they’ve been submitted, so delays might occur. One thing we’ve learned is that the Award Foundation moves at its own pace and Awards get approved when they get approved. No level of pressing and insisting with the Foundation is likely to get your Awards approved any faster. So be prepared for delays and be happy and grateful if there are aren’t any.

    The Youth Development Agency has developed tools and services to help Award Leaders deliver the Award more efficiently and effectively. Contact us today for reliable independent advice as well as information on how we can support you in your Award role.