What is the DofE?

A life-changing experience. A fun time with friends. An opportunity to discover new interests and talents. A tool to develop essential skills for life and work. A recognised mark of achievement; respected by employers.

The DofE is many things to many people, supporting generations to successfully navigate adult life.

14-24 year-olds can do a DofE programme at one of three progressive levels which, when successfully completed, leads to a Bronze, Silver or Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
There are four sections to complete at Bronze and Silver level and five at Gold. They involve helping the community/environment, becoming fitter, developing new skills, planning, training for and completing an expedition and, for Gold only, working with a team on a residential activity.

Any young person can do their DofE – regardless of ability, gender, background or location. Achieving an Award isn’t a competition or about being first. It’s all about setting personal challenges and pushing personal boundaries.

Through a DofE programme young people have fun, make friends, improve their self-esteem and build confidence. They gain essential skills and attributes for work and life such as resilience, problem-solving, team-working, communication and drive, enhancing CVs and uni and job applications. Top employers recognise the work-ready skills Award holders bring to their business.

The DofE licenses organisations that work with young people to run DofE programmes, such as schools, colleges, youth groups and clubs. Through the Licensed Organisation (LO) young people (or their parents / carers) pay for a Participation Place and are supported by Leaders who support them through their programmes, helping them to choose their activities, set their objectives and achieve their Award.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a registered charity, funded by donations, Participation Places and licences. The charity works with LOs across the UK to increase opportunities for young people to gain the benefits of doing their DofE.

Sections

There are four main sections of a DofE programme; Volunteering, Physical, Skills, and Expedition. At Gold participants will also complete a Residential section.
Below, find the requirements for each section;

Volunteering section

Volunteering is simple. It’s about choosing to give time to help people, the community or society, the environment or animals.

Your volunteering must not be done for a business but can be undertaken for a charity or not-for-profit organisation. Where your volunteering is in support of surplus generating work, for example a charity shop, then some Local Authorities may require a work permit. The charity you are volunteering with should be aware of this and support you as required.

For your volunteering activity you need to choose to give time to do something useful without getting paid (apart from expenses).

You can also volunteer in a team, which might be an easier way to find an activity if you can identify a local need you can help with.

Physical section

For your physical activity you need to choose any sport, dance or fitness activity – in short, anything that requires a sustained level of energy and physical activity. For example, playing a sport regularly and showing personal improvement would count. However, learning to be a coach in the same sport would be a Skills section activity, whilst being a volunteer coach counts for the Volunteering section.

Skills section

For your skills activity you need to choose an activity that will allow you to prove you have broadened your understanding and increased your expertise in your chosen skill. It should not be a physical activity, for example horse riding, as this counts towards your Physical section, however, you could choose to learn about caring for horses.

Expedition section

For your Expedition section, you will need to plan, train for and complete an unaccompanied, self-reliant expedition with an agreed aim. You must do the correct training for your level and mode of travel, at least one practice expedition, a qualifying expedition (the one that is assessed) and a final presentation in order to complete the section.

Your expedition must be completed by your own physical efforts (but you have loads of choices, not just on foot!) with minimal external intervention and without motorised assistance. Your route should also be a continuous journey.

Residential section – Gold only

For your Residential section you need to undertake a shared activity or specific course with people you don’t know, in a residential setting away from home and in an unfamiliar environment. Evenings are often as much a part of the experience as daytime activities.

This section offers a high degree of flexibility but it must be done with an organised group, registered charity or Approved Activity Provider. You must join it individually and not with an existing group of friends or as part of a school or youth group trip. You will be staying away – anything from an activity centre or camp to a boat or barge – but you cannot stay with friends or relatives.

There are no age restrictions on who you can do your residential activity with, for example, a conservation project has volunteers of all ages on it – you may even be the only person under 25 or doing your DofE.

Your activity can be anything that provides you with an opportunity for broadening your interests and experiences. It is ideal for trying something new or it can be related to existing interests or activities followed in other sections of your DofE programme.

Use our handy Residential section checklist to make sure your chosen activity will count towards your DofE, and make sure it’s approved by your Leader and Licensed Organisation.

Put your phone down and what are you left with? Just teamwork, courage and the skills to succeed.’
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls