Skills section FAQs
Can you use a part time job as your Skills section activity?

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.

Is Sports Leadership a Skill or Volunteering section activity?

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.

What does a Skills section programme based around reading look like?

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.

How do war games work for the Skills section?

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.

Is first aid a Skills or Volunteering section activity?

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.

Can you clarify how work experience will count for the Skills section?

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.

How can DofE participants use their DofE Skills section activity to support their UCAS application?

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.

Can you do a GCSE or A-Level in your own time for your Skills section?

Yes, it would be a ‘learning and collecting’ activity.

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