It’s increasingly clear that the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak is going to be long-lasting and that this is going to affect the ability of DofE centres to run expeditions this summer and autumn.

At the DofE, we remain determined that young people can continue working towards their Awards and have their achievements recognised, but we also acknowledge the barriers that centres will face in organising and delivering the Expedition section for hundreds of thousands of DofE participants over the next six to 12 months.

The guidance below sets out initiatives and options for DofE Leaders to ensure that young people’s achievements are recognised this year and to help them deliver expeditions as soon as it is safe to do so.

2020 DofE Certificate of Achievement

Young people across the UK have been working hard all year to complete their Skills, Volunteering and Physical sections. Since the Covid-19 outbreak young people have had to adapt rapidly, taking the initiative, changing their activities and keeping going with their programmes despite the challenges of staying at home and social distancing.

We want young people to be recognised for their amazing efforts and achievements even if it’s not possible for them to do an expedition, and therefore achieve their Award, this year.

Group of young people watching sunset

To this end, we’ll be launching a new accolade that recognises the fantastic accomplishments of these young people – the ‘2020 DofE Certificate of Achievement’.

For this year only, certificates will be issued to all participants who have completed their Skills, Volunteering and Physical sections at Bronze, Silver or Gold level, but haven’t been able to do their expedition because of the pandemic. The accolade will be a formal recognition, by the DofE, of their dedication to their programmes and everything they’ve achieved through these three sections, as well as their resilience in coping with the unprecedented events of this year.

Read more about the certificates and who will qualify.

Carefree girl laughing

Expedition flexibilities

We know that some young people will want to continue with their programme and do their expedition when it is safe and possible to do so. We would absolutely encourage this – the expedition is a hugely valuable experience that develops vital skills and character. All young people who complete their Skills, Physical and Volunteering sections will receive the special 2020 DofE Certificate of Achievement and, if they go on to complete their Expedition section at a later date, they will also achieve their DofE Award.

To support young people to complete their expeditions, we’ve developed four flexibilities that address different social distancing challenges. We understand the difficulties Leaders will face in supporting young people from this year’s cohort who want to do their expedition whilst signing-up a new wave of participants; these flexibilities are intended to help Leaders balance those needs and ensure new participants don’t miss out.

1. Expeditions with a difference

For many years, participants who have additional needs and those doing their DofE in the secure estate have done a different type of expedition, which results in the same outcomes and benefits as a ‘traditional’ expedition.

This involves doing an expedition in limited space and completing a series of team challenges requiring both mental and physical skills, before camping outside – for example, in school grounds – for one or more nights.

We’ll publish resources to help Licensed Organisations (LO) deliver this model of expedition for their participants when Government guidelines make it possible.

2. More expeditions, at a different time of year

If social distancing rules are in place until much later this year, we know we may need to support LOs to run expeditions in a much reduced timeframe, to support 2020’s new cohort of participants and those young people whose expeditions have been delayed. This is likely to be outside the ‘usual’ expedition season – although it’s worth noting that DofE expeditions can always be run at any point of the year.

To reflect these circumstances, we’ll enable some rule changes:

– As we’ve already announced, Expedition Assessors for Silver and Gold level can temporarily be known to the group.

– We’ll relax the rules around recommended environments, so participants don’t have to leave their local area to complete an expedition – for example, Gold expeditions would be able to take place outside of wild country.

– At Silver and Gold level, practice expeditions and qualifying expeditions can be delivered ‘back to back’.

We’ll also provide practical support to help LOs deliver expeditions, including guidance to help them run expeditions over the winter, reflecting the need to accommodate reduced daylight and colder weather.

We’re also considering how we can help LOs and Approved Activity Providers (AAPs) find suitable indoor accommodation for their expeditions.

3. Helping participants who can’t do an expedition this year, but wish to progress to the next level

For those participants who simply won’t have the chance to complete an expedition this year and want to progress from Bronze to Silver, we’ll introduce two temporary rule changes (please note this won’t apply to those moving from Silver to Gold):  

– At Bronze level, participants who have completed their Skills, Physical and Volunteering sections – achieving the 2020 DofE Certificate of Achievement – and progress to Silver, will be treated as if they have completed the previous Award level. This means they’ll only have to complete six months of activity, not 12. 

– Participants who do this will be able to use their Silver practice expedition as their qualifying expedition at Bronzeenabling them to achieve both their Bronze and Silver Awards.  

4. Something different

We’re also investigating the possibility of introducing an alternative experience to the expedition for participants later this year. If a suitable experience is developed, it will deliver the same learning outcomes as the Expedition section, but in a format that enables participants to comply with social distancing rules.

We’ll share more details on all of the above in coming weeks – and local Operations Teams will work with LOs to help decide which solutions are right for their participants, depending on their circumstances. These are options for Leaders to choose from, and can be used in varying combinations. Operations Officers are on hand to help LOs in their planning. 

These changes relate to UK organisations licensed by the DofE. If you are based in another country or territory, please consult your own Award licensing organisation to find out about arrangements that have been put in place for your participants.