Designing games should meet the requirements for the Skills section, as this would develop practical skills and involve learning and creativity. Participants must still discuss their activity choices with their DofE Leader to ensure they fulfil the time requirements and section objectives.
Sectional activities need to average an hour a week, with the first and last activities being the full section duration apart. In the Skills section it is usual for activities to be weekly at all DofE levels. However, condensed schedules (in terms of hours per session) can allow participants to undertake more expensive or difficult to get to activities like marksmanship, taxidermy, go-karting, flying, archaeology and so on.
These kinds of decisions must be made in reference to the individual, their overall programme and with the prior agreement of their DofE Leader/Licensed Organisation.
No, paid work and core curriculum rarely count, as DofE activities need to be in a participant’s own time. DofE activities can still be linked to their structured time activities to further develop these. Skills activities can include formal training courses and can be certificated. This is covered in more detail in The Handbook for DofE Leaders.
It can be either. Sports Leadership (sports coaching) can be focused on more formal, theoretical training within the Skills section or could be part training and mostly practical coaching after the training to count for the Volunteering section. It all depends on how the young person sets up their programme for which outcomes and what they agree with their DofE Leader.
Reading is generally an activity undertaken in a variety of environments and settings so as a DofE activity it needs to build upon that young person’s ability, interest and existing reading history. Direct the participant to the sectional principles and benefits – it needs to develop self-esteem and confidence, sharing knowledge with others, develop organisation skills, sharpen research skills and so on. For most participants it should be much more than simply reading, the reading of the book is not really the DofE activity time, the DofE average of an hour a week should be the reflection, report, research or discussion of the book. Probably the best way to undertake this is with a book club where people will then come together to discuss the books read, broaden the type of books encountered and encourage reading as hobby.
War games as a Skills section activity refers to table top miniature war gaming and collecting, for example ‘Games Workshop’ type activities. War games like airsoft, paintballing and so on are all Physical section activities.
Learning first aid is a Skills section activity. Volunteering to be a first aider with (for example) St. John Ambulance is a Volunteering section activity. To be able to volunteer in meaningful and responsible ways, in some area’s participants may need specific skills training in order to be effective; for example gaining a first aid qualification to volunteer as a first aider. This can be up to one quarter of a Volunteering section programme.
These are both activities which fall on the edge of the ‘boundaries’ created when we had the programmes folders and much more rigid sectional outlines.
Crossbow archery and darts are both Skills section activities as there is not a significant physical component to the activity.
Archery requires physical strength and involves a development of that strength in order to progress to different levels.
However, if a participant could create, and evidence how an archery programme meets the sectional outcomes and benefits of the Skills section then we would advise that flexibility should be applied. The LO would always have the final say and should approve this in advance of the participant starting the section.
It is important that DofE participants and Leaders consider the sectional outcomes and benefits for the individual young person when considering activities for their DofE programme. Skills section activities should improve self-esteem and confidence, develop practical and social skills, develop organisational skills, sharpen research skills and demonstrate how to set and rise to a challenge. The skills should help the young person to realise their unique potential and value themselves. There are many online activities which a young person can use to develop these, web design, computer programming and using professional software and Office tools to maintain a blog or digital photography. However, the DofE considers that playing online games does not generally meet these benefits and outcomes; nor does it adequately help young people prepare for work and life.
While the activity still needs to be in the participant’s own time, developing work skills through optional unpaid work experience or training would count for this section as life skills. This is a good way for participants to use the DofE to help them bridge the gap between education and employment.
The Skills section is dominated by some very common activities, the top six are:
1. Playing an instrument 23.0%
2. Cooking 9.8%
3. Singing 3.5%
4. Photography 2.9%
5. First aid 2.8%
6. Learning to drive 2.8% – (this is more like 20% at Gold level)
Rather than choosing these activities, participants could think about focusing their programme choice around the subject they want to study at university. Joining a local club and becoming active in the subject area. Possible activities include thinking about where the subject is used in industry or business and looking to get some work experience at these places in their personal time. Or could be completing additional and wider study of the subject, many teachers and lecturers will help young people who want to do this. All these can be highlighted in a UCAS personal statement to show the enthusiasm, commitment and subject interest that universities are looking for.
Yes, it would be a ‘learning and collecting’ activity.