Sectional Certificates & Certificate of Achievement

Sectional Certificates

It’s a huge achievement to complete The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, but each section is a milestone to be celebrated. Sectional Certificates reward the commitment and effort it takes to reach that point in a participant’s programme.

When participants complete any section of their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, they receive a digital certificate to celebrate their achievement through the ‘My Achievements’ section of their eDofE account, or the DofE app. This will be available to download as soon as any section of their Award receives its final approval on eDofE.

Presenting these certificates is also a fantastic way to encourage a participant to continue to complete their full Award and celebrate the milestones on the way to doing so. As a DofE Leader you can print Sectional Certificates through eDofE. These are an excellent addition to celebration events where you may have participants who are yet to achieve their full Award.

Find out more about My Achievements and how to print Sectional Certificate with our help article and guidance videos:

Certificate of Achievement

Completing multiple sections of an Award deserves recognition. The Certificate of Achievement is a recognition of a young person’s dedication to their programme and everything they’ve achieved through these three sections. It can be added to their CV or personal statement, helping highlight the many skills and useful experiences they’ve gained.

We absolutely encourage young people to continue their programme and complete the final sections of their DofE Award if they’re able to, as all sections provide hugely valuable experiences that develop vital skills and character. We understand that sometimes completing all sections may not be possible for some young people, hence offering the Certificate of Achievement. As DofE Leaders, you’re best placed to know when this is appropriate, so you’re able to award the Certificate of Achievement through eDofE.

Find out more about how to award the Certificate of Achievement to your participants on eDofE with our help article and guidance video for Leaders:

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Did the temporary flexibility that allowed participants to progress to the next level with the shorter timescales after completing the Certificate of Achievement end on 31 October 2023?

A: One of the programme flexibilities within #DofEWithaDifference allowed participants to progress to the next Award level after achieving the Certificate of Achievement on the shorter non-direct timescale due to the delays with completing an expedition under government restrictions.

However, participants still had to eventually complete their full Award (including the expedition) to complete their subsequent Award as a non-direct participant. As there are no longer the same issues with completing the Expedition section, as reflected in the changes being made to the Certificate of Achievement, this flexibility is no longer needed to help participants to progress to the next Award level.

From 1 November 2023, adults on eDofE will not be allowed to switch participants from direct to non-direct entrant when they start the next Award level. Participants will only move from direct to non-direct when they have completed all 4 sections of the lower level. Once completed, the timescales will automatically change to those of a non-direct entrant.


Q: Can an Award Verifier still query an Award once it is completed, if a participant has received the Certificate of Achievement?

A: Yes. Certificates of Achievement will be based on the sections being approved by a participant’s DofE Leader. So, if the participant goes on to complete their remaining sections, each section will still be quality checked by a trained Award Verifier – although the expectation is that the programme requirements will have been met. Even if a participant receives the Certificate of Achievement, an Award Verifier can still query a completed section and may require changes to be made before the section(s) can be completed and their Award achieved.


Q: Why have these changes been made? 

A: These changes have been made after a two-year project to review how the DofE recognises participants’ achievements through certificates in addition to the full Award. This included the Certificate of Achievement, sectional certificates and whether they should be received in paper or digital form.

Throughout our consultation we heard from:

  • 360 Leaders via a survey linked on eDofE.
  • 2000 participants via a survey linked on eDofE.
  • Our Youth Ambassadors through two focus groups.
  • Leaders working in different environments, such as the secure estate, additional needs centres, and Further Education colleges.
  • LOs which have purchased sectional certificate and / or Certificate of Achievement printing paper through targeted conversations.
  • Staff, through sessions held by working group regional representatives.

80% of surveyed participants told us they would like to receive a certificate when they complete each section of their Award. Despite sectional certificates being available, only 4% of these young people said they had received a sectional certificate at some point in the past.


Q: Why have the changes been made to the Certificate of Achievement?

A: The Certificate of Achievement has been hugely popular since it was first introduced in March 2020, and we’re pleased to continue offering it. As we know that some young people face barriers to completing sections other than the Expedition, we are changing the Certificate of Achievement, so it recognises any three sections that a participant has completed, rather than only Volunteering, Physical and Skills. This is all part of our drive to give more young people than ever access to a life changing DofE experience. It sits alongside the changes to expedition rules we introduced recently, which we hope will enable most young people to be able to complete their full Award. If you have questions about this, please do speak to your Operations Officer in the first instance.


Q: Why is the Certificate of Achievement not available for all participants?

A: Our research showed that for many DofE groups, the Certificate of Achievement was no longer relevant now that there are no Covid19 restrictions in place. However, it also showed that the Certificate of Achievement was especially popular with those who work with young people experiencing marginalisation and Leaders appreciated having an additional way to recognise achievement outside of the sectional certificate and full Award. It’s clear that different forms of recognition work for different young people and different centres. We’re providing the option, so Leaders can make the decision that is right for their young people. The Certificate of Achievement is therefore only visible on a participant’s profile if a Leader chooses to send it to them on eDofE.


Q: Now participants can instantly see their digital certificates, will the cost of the welcome pack be reduced?

A: The price of the welcome pack still has the cost built in for a participants full Award certificate and their choice of badge or brooch and as a result is not being reduced. DofE Leaders should still organise presentation events where these are presented as they provide an opportunity for participants to come together and celebrate their achievements with family, friends and those who have supported them throughout their Award journey.


Q: Do we still need to run presentation events?

A: Presentation events are essential to celebrate the achievements of participants and share this moment with those who have supported them throughout their Award journey. It is also part of each organisation’s licence agreement with DofE, that appropriate ceremonies are arranged. During the research of this project participants stressed that they still wanted to receive paper certificates as the primary method of celebrating their achievements, but a digital certificate would be helpful in order to keep track of their achievements and include in their CV, UCAS or job applications.


Q: Do Leaders still need to purchase sectional certificate and Certificate of Achievement paper through DofE Essentials?

A: Leaders will now be able to download complete versions of their participants’ sectional certificates and Certificates of Achievement. This will mean they don’t need to be printed onto the certificate paper that was purchased through DofE Essentials and instead can be printed themselves. We would recommend printing these certificates directly onto a plain white A4 160-180gsm card.


Q: If I am completing my DofE in Northern Ireland, which certificate will be downloadable on my ‘My Achievements’ page?

A: In Northern Ireland, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award enables young people who complete the programme to have a choice of Award certification: a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Certificate, a Gaisce –The President’s Award certificate or an International Award Certificate. At the beginning of your Award journey, you will have been given the option on eDofE as to which Award certification you wish to receive, and this can be viewed in your eDofE profile settings. If you wish to change which certificates are available to you then you can change your Award type in your settings.

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