You have most likely heard of the Duke of Edinburgh’s award. It can be completed by students all across the country and those who do it are often greatly respected. After all, completing them is no easy experience – my feet took weeks to recover when I did them! There are three types of the Duke of Edinburgh award, known as Bronze, Silver and Gold, all at different difficulties. They are different to each other because they have different criteria and requirements to be fulfilled!
If you want to discover what these requirements are and discover how each level of the DofE award scheme differs to each other, check out the rest of this article!
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What is the DofE award scheme?
The DofE award programme is a scheme devised to help young people reach their greatest potential. On each of the levels, they will have to complete a volunteering section, a skills section and a physical activity section.
The skills section can be any activity that you are interested in, such as baking or driving for example. The physical section requires you to complete a sporting activity for a set period of time. This can also be any type of sport or physical activity!
You then must volunteer for a set amount of time. This can be any type of volunteering! From working at a charity shop to organising fundraising events or volunteering at a care home. You can find out more about what the DofE programme actually is if you check out this page from the DofE website.
Getting a DofE award is seen as a great achievement. Consequently, there are a set of rules and requirements individuals must adhere to in order to receive the award. If there wasn’t any, then anyone could receive the award and it wouldn’t be as special!
What are the requirements for DofE Bronze, Silver and Gold?
When completing any level of the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, there are a specific set of rules which you must follow. If you don’t, then you technically wouldn’t have completed the award!
Each level has different requirements and the further you go up, the harder it gets! This means that the Bronze level is seen as the easiest DofE award and the Gold level is seen as the hardest.
Check out the table below to see a rough summary of the differences between the three levels:
|Length of time to complete
|Length of time volunteering
|Length of time spent on physical and skills
The rest of this article will discuss these differences in greater detail!
How long does DofE take to complete?
As already stated, the further up the DofE levels you go, the harder they become. Alongside this, the further up the levels, the longer the award takes to complete.
Additionally, timescales can get confusing because in some cases, you get to choose which sections you do for longer. There are also additional time requirements for Silver and Gold if you haven’t done the lower levels.
Keep reading for plenty more information!
How long does Bronze DofE take to complete?
The DofE Bronze level takes at least six months to complete, which is the shortest amount of time.
This is because, to complete the Bronze DofE award, you have to do a minimum of three months of each section, plus pick one section to do for 6 months.
The expedition also needs to be completed, although of course, this doesn’t take months! You’ll usually do the expedition after finishing your sections. You can find out more about the timescales of the Bronze DofE award if you check out this document from the DofE website.
How long does Silver DofE take to complete?
The Silver DofE award takes a minimum of 6 months to complete, however can take longer depending on how you arrange the timings of the sections you have to complete. This is because you have to volunteer for 6 months for Silver.
You also have to do either the skills or physical sections for 6 months too. The section which you don’t do for 6 months has to be done for 3 months.
However, Silver DofE can take 12 months if you have to do either one of the sections for an extra 6 months. You will be asked to do this if you didn’t complete the Bronze DofE award.
Once again, there’s also an expedition to complete. If you want to discover more about the Silver DofE award, check out this document from the DofE website.
How long does Gold DofE take to complete?
In comparison, the Gold DofE award takes a minimum of 12 months to complete. This is because you are required to do 12 months of volunteering and 12 months of either the skills or physical section.
The physical or skills section which you didn’t do for 12 months will then have to be completed in 6 months. However, you may have to do 6 months extra for one of the 12-month sections if you didn’t complete the Silver DofE award.
You will also have to complete an expedition and a residential trip. To find out more about the Gold DofE award, check out this document from the DofE website. You can also check out this Think Student article for gold residential ideas.
How many hours of volunteering are required for DofE Bronze, Silver and Gold?
Volunteering is a great experience to have, as it can provide you with so many skills. If you want to really discover how volunteering can benefit you, check out this article from Think Student. Therefore, it’s no surprise that volunteering is a requirement of the DofE award!
For each level of the DofE award, you must do a minimum of one hour of volunteering a week for the whole of the time period you are expected to volunteer for. This means that for Bronze, you would have to do an hour of volunteering a week, every week, for 3 months.
For Silver DofE, you would have to do an hour of volunteering every week for 6 months. If you chose to do volunteering out of all the sections for an extra 6 months due to not completing Bronze DofE, you would then have to do an hour of volunteering a week for 12 months.
For Gold DofE, you would have to do an hour of volunteering every week for 12 months. However, if you did not complete the Silver DofE award and moved straight onto Gold, you will be asked to do 18 months of one of the sections.
If you chose volunteering, you would then have to do an hour of volunteering every week for 18 months to complete the Gold DofE award. If you are unsure about what the volunteering section actually involves and have some general questions about what counts as volunteering, check out this page from the DofE website for some answers.
Even if you are not doing the DofE award, volunteering can still be a great thing to do! Check out this article from Think Student to discover why students should do volunteer work.
How long are the expeditions for DofE Bronze, Silver and Gold?
Every DofE level requires participants to camp outside. Consequently, participants are required to put up tents, cook their own food and carry all of their kit. The expedition for completing the Bronze DofE award is the shortest and for completing the Gold DofE award, it is the longest.
Consequently, the Gold DofE award can be seen as the hardest because participants have to walk the most whilst carrying the most belongings! The Bronze DofE expedition only lasts two days and one night.
In comparison, the Silver DofE expedition lasts 3 days and 2 nights. Finally, the Gold DofE expedition requires participants to camp for a minimum of 3 nights and do 4 days of walking. You can find out more about the general timescales for DofE and lengths of the different expeditions if you check out this article from the DofE website.
What are the required ages for the different levels of the DofE award?
As the Bronze DofE level can be seen as the least strenuous, this level is offered to the youngest individuals. To complete this DofE level, you are required to be 14 years old or above. However, if you are in a school year where others turn 14 before you do, you may still be allowed to start this level at 13 years old.
To complete the Silver DofE award, you must be 15 years old or above. However, if you are 14 years old but peers in your own year are turning 15 years old, you may also be allowed to start.
Finally, to complete the Gold DofE award, you must be 16 years old or above. You can discover the ages for completing the DofE awards in more detail if you check out this article from the DofE website.
The maximum age you can be when starting the Duke of Edinburgh’s award is 24 years old. Therefore, if you are above this age, you will not be able to participate. You can discover more general information about the DofE award scheme if you check out this article from the official DofE website.
What are the general required conditions for the DofE award scheme?
Completing any of the DofE levels is not easy! This is because participants have to plan their expeditions themselves, mapping out the different routes and calculating how long they will be walking for.
Every expedition must also have an aim which you have to complete during the time you are walking. This could be anything from researching the different wildlife to discovering more about yourselves!
In terms of the group you are with, you must all be at the same award level and qualifying age. The group sizes must be between four and seven participants.
All expeditions will also be supervised by an adult who will watch from afar, so you are not completely alone! You can discover more about the general requirements for all DofE levels if you check out this page from the DofE website.
The required conditions for DofE differ slightly, depending on the different levels. These differences are outlined below:
What are the expedition required conditions for Bronze DofE?
For the Bronze DofE award, the expeditions that take place must be in the normal familiar countryside. This means that the participants may recognise it, as it will be local to them.
As you already know, participants completing the Bronze DofE must camp for one night and be walking for 2 days. However, there is a requirement that they must be active for 6 hours during the 2 days of their expedition.
What are the expedition required conditions for Silver DofE?
For the Silver DofE award, the expeditions must take place in a normal open countryside. This must be unfamiliar to participants, meaning that their map reading skills will have to be bumped up a notch!
For the 3 days that participants are walking, they must be active for at least 7 hours!
What are the expedition required conditions for Gold DofE?
As the Gold DofE award is the hardest, participants will have to complete their expedition in the wild country, completely away from any houses or habitation. This is where individual’s navigation skills are really put to the test!
Not only is this level of the award the longest, as participants have to walk and navigate for 4 days, it is also the most active. This is because participants are required to be active for 8 hours every day!
What training must be completed?
Before you are let out into the wild by yourselves, you are given some training. After all, if you have never used a map or compass in your life before signing up to DofE, you may struggle a little.
All DofE levels require participants to complete a set amount of training which allows them to learn how to map read, orientate, learn what to do in emergencies and how to cook outside.
You may also receive different training depending on how you carry out your expedition. This is because some groups complete their DofE award on the water, meaning that they have to learn how to canoe!
However, the training requirements slightly differ depending on the different levels. Check out the sub-headings below to see how.
What training must be completed for Bronze DofE?
The only training required for the Bronze DofE level is the basics. You will have to learn first aid and emergency procedures and show that you have an awareness of risks in the wild.
You will also be trained on how to navigate and use a map and compass. This training will often spread across a couple of days, where you will also be required to plan your routes, to demonstrate that you are able to understand maps.
During training, you will also be asked to put your skills into practice! This means that you must be able to show the expedition supervisor that you can actually use a compass.
You will also be taught how to cook with an outdoor stove and how to put up a tent! You must also show awareness of the countryside code. To discover a more detailed breakdown of what the Bronze DofE training involves, check out this document from the DofE website.
What training must be completed for Silver and Gold DofE?
For the Silver and Gold DofE awards, participants must complete the same basic training as individuals at the Bronze level. After all, they still need to learn how to navigate and carry out first aid!
However, these levels of DofE also require additional training. For the Silver and Gold DofE award, this means that participants must complete a practice expedition of 2 days and 2 nights minimum.
Therefore, when completing the Silver and Gold DofE awards, you are technically doing two expeditions! Trust me, this was quite a shock when I applied to do these levels.
However, these practice expeditions are extremely useful, as if you make mistakes, it doesn’t matter! It also prepares you very well for the real expedition, so you won’t be panicking! You can discover more about the training and general information about the DofE awards if you check out this article from the DofE website.
What are the requirements during the DofE expeditions?
Completing all levels of the DofE award can be seen as hard, not only because of the physical aspects but also because of the rules you must follow! Completing the DofE awards allows you to show that you can be completely self-sufficient and are able to navigate the wilderness without any adults helping you.
Consequently, there are a set of requirements you must follow during the expedition if you want to achieve that award. You mustn’t ask other people for help or use mobile devices to support you with navigation.
You must cook a hot meal for yourself at least once a day, using the relevant cooking equipment. It goes without saying that you must be respectful of your whereabouts! The people of DofE are very passionate about adhering to the countryside code.
The expedition must be completed using only your physical effort. This means that you can’t catch a bus or hitch a ride if you get tired or fed up!
After your expedition, you are then required to do a presentation about your experiences for the Silver and Gold DofE levels. All of the requirements can be found on this article from the DofE website, also linked above.
What are the DofE presentations?
To fully complete the DofE award, you must complete a presentation with your team and then show it to the DofE assessor. However, this is only the case at Silver and Gold DofE level.
This can be done in a PowerPoint presentation or you could write up a report. The presentation will be based on the aim that you thought of at the start of your expedition.
To be successful in the Silver and Gold DofE awards, this presentation is essential! As a result, you need to make sure that you are gathering information and thinking about the aim whilst you are doing all of that walking.
Consider taking some pictures and think of creative ideas to produce an original piece at the end of your expedition. Check out this document from Costello School, which gives helpful advice on how to create and present your presentation.
You can base your presentation on anything you like! My group personally based it on finding as many different types of plants as we could. We were given permission to use an app on our phones to recognise and name the different types of wildlife.
If you are struggling to think of ideas for your DofE aim, check out this article from DofE Hero.
Are there any other requirements for the Gold DofE award?
As already stated, the Gold DofE award can be seen as the hardest. Not only do you have to do the most amount of days, walk for the longest distances and be active for the most hours, you also have to do a residential trip!
A DofE Gold residential refers to a trip lasting a minimum of 5 days and 4 nights which participants have to be way from home for. They will be completing a range of different activities with a group of people they have never met before!
You will be required to do daytime and evening activities, whilst making new friends! There are plenty of different residential trips out there, provided by groups and charities which are credited by DofE.
You could do adventure residentials, where you do a range of activities outdoors. Personally, this is what I did, allowing me to be pushed out of my comfort zone as I clung to a cliff whilst abseiling.
However, there are plenty of other (less scary) options, such as doing wildlife and nature walks for a week. If you have any questions about the Gold DofE residential, check out this article from the DofE website, which covers some general FAQs.
If you are struggling to actually think of or find any residentials that you could do, click here to visit the opportunity finder on the official DofE website. The residentials do cost money, so you better start looking early to find the cheapest ones!
Doing any of the DofE levels definitely requires a lot of commitment. If you are not sure whether completing the DofE award is worth it or not, check out this article from Think Student.