Youth Achievement Awards

Introduction to the Youth Challenge and Youth Achievement Awards Scheme

The Youth Challenges and the Youth Achievement Awards are an activity-based approach to peer education. The Awards are designed to help develop more effective participative practice by encouraging young people to progressively take more responsibility in selecting, planning and leading activities that are based on their interests. The peer group model encourages the development of a wide range of life skills through a flexible and informal approach.

The Youth Achievement Awards were introduced nationally in 1997 and are already well established in a wide range of youth organisations, schools and educational projects. Building on their success, the Youth Challenges were launched in 2002 meeting the demand for a similar award for the lower age group. In all levels of the Awards young people are encouraged to take on progressive levels of responsibility through involvement in a wide range of self-identified activities.

The Youth Achievement Awards were initially established in the youth work sector as a means of recognising and accrediting young people's achievements through a peer group approach. More recently, schools, colleges, national charities, youth offender institutions, youth offending teams, Connexions partnerships and training providers are finding them an equally valuable tool in motivating and engaging their young people.

The Youth Challenges are internally certificated and are aimed at young people aged 11 to 14, although they may be appropriate for people older, or even slightly younger. The Bronze to Gold Youth Achievement Awards are aimed at young people who are 14 plus, with the Platinum young leaders award being appropriate for young people of 16 plus.


  • Recognise and accredit young people's achievements
  • Encourage progressive responsibility and ownership of learning
  • Provide a mechanism by which to measure the quality of work with young people
  • Reinforce good practice
  • Encourage participation and social inclusion
  • Use peer education


  • Enhance self awareness and self-esteem
  • Develop communication skills and resolve differences by negotiation
  • Get on with and work well with others
  • Explore and manage feelings
  • Understand and identify with others
  • Develop values
  • Plan ahead

By empowering young people to choose the activities that they will complete in order to achieve their Awards they develop a sense of ownership of their activities and the learning involved. This in itself is highly motivating, but is further enhanced by the sense of achievement gained when young people are able to receive an accredited certificate that recognises their individual contribution to the activities in which they are involved. The Youth Challenge and Youth Achievement Awards can help youth services achieve their ‘Resourcing Excellent Youth Services’ (REYS) accreditation targets in relation to recorded and accredited outcomes for young people.

In using the peer group to assess and support the young people through the Awards, young people develop a range of social skills that includes negotiation, problem solving, communication, working with others etc. Some of these skills can be also accredited through Wider Key Skills programmes (known as the Core Skills in Scotland). In addition, the reviewing and recording procedures have been designed to promote the development of study skills through planning, reviewing, recording and creating a personal portfolio. In addition to the Award booklets, each young person must submit a portfolio of evidence.

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