Levels and timescales
There are three levels of the DofE Award programme which you can apply for, we normally advise starting with the Bronze level to then progress to the Silver level and finally the Gold level. Each Award level has an entrance age for each level particularly the Gold level, this is due to the expedition requirements.
At times we have young people apply to Silver or Gold without carrying out the previous levels, this is known as a ‘direct entrant’. Whilst young people can apply to all levels if they meet the age requirement, at Barnet, we like to ensure the safest and best experience possible. In this instance we will arrange a discussion with individuals to ensure they are able to meet the fitness, ability levels and the mental determination to complete the Silver and especially the Gold level expedition. After the discussion we will make recommendations for the best experience for the young person to ensure.
Each award level has different requirements, we recommend starting with the Bronze level and working your way up to Silver and then Gold level as it gives a fuller and broader experience which will be noticed on application forms for further education or job applications which is exceptionally useful for young people to commitment levels and key skills for prospective further educational facilities or future employers.
Don’t forget, you have until your 25th birthday to complete whichever level you’re working on and achieve that Award – but remember, all activities must be completed before then.
The tables below show you minimum timescales for each level and section. We’ve put the length of time in months – you need to show regular activity and commitment during this time averaging at least an hour a week.
You can’t achieve an Award in a short burst of enthusiasm over one weekend, this needs to be a commitment of 1 hour each week per section!
Length of time of DofE expeditions
Minimum hours of planned activity each day
2 days and 1 night
At least 6 hours during the daytime (at least 3 of which must be spent journeying)
3 days and 2 nights
At least 7 hours during the daytime (at least 3½ of which must be spent journeying)
4 days and 3 nights
At least 8 hours during the daytime (at least 4 of which must be spent journeying)
Notes: Time associated with overnight accommodation and catering is additional to the minimum daytime hours of planned activity. You have to undertake at least one practice expedition as part of your training. This may be more closely supervised than your final assessed expedition, which is remotely supervised to develop independence and a sense of personal responsibility.
- You can do a Bronze DofE programme once you’re 14 or in the school year in which your peer group turn 14 to start a Bronze DofE programme – check with your DofE Leader.
- A Bronze DofE programme has 4 sections, Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition. You must do a minimum of 3 months activity for each of the Volunteering, Physical and Skills sections, and plan, train for and do a 2 day (1 night) expedition (plus maybe a practice expedition).
- You also have to spend an extra three months on one of the Volunteering, Physical or Skills sections. It’s your choice which one and, though you can change your mind later, you should decide which section you want to do for longer at the beginning. Knowing how long you’re going to do it for will help you to choose your activity and set your goals for each section.
- It will usually take you at least 6 months to complete your Bronze programme..
- The next step up from Bronze… you need to be 15 or in the school year in which your peer group turn 15 to start doing your Silver DofE programme – check with your DofE Leader.
- A Silver DofE programme has 4 sections, Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition. You need to do at least 6 months Volunteering and a minimum of 6 months on either Physical or Skills and 3 months on the other. It’s up to you which one you do for longer.
- If you did Bronze, you can choose the same activity for Silver, but you need to show development in it. It’s best to try something new!
- The Expedition section involves planning, training for and doing a 3 day (2 night) expedition (plus a practice expedition).
- If you start your Silver without doing Bronze first you’ll have to do an extra 6 months volunteering or doing whichever of the Physical or Skills sections you have spent more time on. Though you can change your mind later, you should decide which section you want to do for longer at the beginning. Knowing how long you’re going to do it for will help you to choose your activity and set your goals for each section.
- It will take you at least 6 months for Silver if you’ve already achieved your Bronze, or 12 months if you’ve jumped straight into Silver.
- Once you are 16 you can do your Gold DofE programme. No activities can be counted for this before your 16th birthday.
- If you did a previous level, you can choose the same activity for Gold, but you need to show development in it. It’s best to try something new!
- You’ll spend 12 months on your Volunteering section. For Physical and Skills you must spend 12 months on one and six months on the other – you decide which way round you do it.
- Your qualifying expedition will be for four days and three nights (plus an acclimatisation day) and should take place in ‘wild country’ (plus a practice expedition).
- The big difference at Gold is you’ll also do a Residential section – staying away from home for five days and four nights doing a shared activity with people you don’t know. It’s great fun and a real chance to do something different!
- If you’ve jumped straight into your Gold DofE programme you’ll need to do a further six months either volunteering or whichever one of your physical or skills activities you spent the most time on.
- For Gold, you’ll need to do your programme for at least 12 months if you’ve achieved your Silver Award, or 18 months if you’ve started at Gold level without doing your Silver – even if you’ve done Bronze