It’s clear that the long-lasting effects of the pandemic may mean Licensed Organisations (LOs) and Approved Activity Providers (AAPs) face barriers in delivering ‘traditional’ expeditions for some time. Each DofE centre will need to follow the specific guidance and rules for their sector, and their own local policies and procedures, when planning expeditions.

Guidance for centres in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will vary. You must follow the restrictions in place in the country you intend to visit.

If you are delivering the DofE in England, the Department for Education has issued guidance, and the National Youth Agency has published information for managing youth sector activities

If you are delivering the DofE in Scotland, please review the guidance issued by the Scottish Government, Youth Scotland and/or Youth Link Scotland, as appropriate.

If you are delivering the DofE in Wales, please review the guidance issued by the Welsh Government.

If you are delivering the DofE in Northern Ireland, please review the guidance issued by EANI and the recovery plan outlined by the NI Executive, as well as information on outdoor recreation.

You may also wish to review advice published by the OEAP (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or by SAPOE (Scotland) on the implications of COVID-19 for educational visits.

Expedition flexibilities that will apply until 31 October 2023

With social distancing restrictions seeming likely to remain in place in one way or another for some time, we’ve made a number of temporary rule changes to the Expedition section. These changes will help LOs and AAPs to run expeditions to support new cohorts of participants and those young people whose expeditions have been delayed. This may be outside the ‘usual’ expedition season – although it’s worth noting that DofE expeditions can always be run at any point of the year. Please click the drop down below to see the full rule changes.

We’ve also put together eDofE guidance on evidencing temporary changes here.

Click here to see expedition flexibilities

1. Bronze participants who progress to Silver will be able to use their Silver practice expedition as their qualifying expedition at Bronze, enabling them to achieve both their Bronze and Silver Awards. This expedition must meet the minimum requirements of the Silver practice expedition (two days and two nights). Participants wishing to do a combined Silver/Bronze expedition must meet the age requirements of the higher level (they must be in the year group in which their peers turn 15) and they must be enrolled at Silver. Similarly, Silver participants who progress to Gold will be able to use their Gold practice expedition as their qualifying expedition at Silver. This expedition must meet the requirements of the Silver qualifying expedition (three days and two nights), and a Silver Practice Expedition must have been completed in advance. In addition, participants wishing to do a combined Gold/Silver expedition must meet the age requirements of the higher level (they must be at least 16 years old) and they must be enrolled at Gold. For Silver and Gold level, presentations are still required.

As practice expeditions are not under qualifying conditions, combined expeditions will not require an Accredited Expedition Assessor, but we recommend that an Assessor is present if possible. In order to ensure the outcomes of the section are met if an Assessor is not present, the Expedition Supervisor for the practice expedition must provide a short statement which is added as ‘evidence’ (not an Assessor’s Report) to the participant’s Expedition section in eDofE. This statement will confirm that the practice expedition has been completed and used for the participant’s qualifying expedition, and that the outcomes of the Expedition section have been met as best they can.

If centres have mixed teams with some participants completing just the qualifying expedition and some participants completing a combined practice/qualifying expedition, minimum team numbers will still need to be met. This may mean that some participants have an extra night beyond the duration of a Bronze qualifying expedition (for a Silver/Bronze hybrid) or an extra day beyond the duration of a Gold practice expedition (for a Gold/Silver hybrid).

Practice expeditions are an important part of the preparation and training participants carry out to ensure that they can undertake a safe and enjoyable remotely supervised expedition. For that reason, all Gold and Silver participants will still have to do both a practice and qualifying expedition.

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

3. We’ve relaxed the rules around recommended environments, so participants don’t have to leave their local area to complete an expedition. This means that Gold expeditions can take place outside of wild country.

Additionally, participants can complete an expedition in an urban environment in their local area. It may be appropriate for participants to spend a greater proportion of time investigating their aim, and they should plan to travel through a range of environments e.g. parkland, commons and waterways. If these environments do not permit the use of a stove, participants could be transported to/from a location, such as their school or youth group grounds, where they can cook a hot meal at an appropriate time during the expedition. For example, on a Bronze expedition this might be at the end of the first day before participants go home to sleep.

As the normal terrain requirements have been relaxed, it is possible to take all levels of teams to the same location. However, you must consider whether it is safe and practical to do so (for example, each team will still need to meet the appropriate duration requirements), whether you have obtained the appropriate permissions from your Licensed Organisation (LO), and the potential pressure on campsites and other facilities.

In addition, teams can journey in terrain that is familiar to them. This could be where they did a previous level or undertook training walks or a practice expedition. However, expeditions should still be a fun and challenging experience for all participants. Therefore, new routes and campsites, even if they are within familiar or ‘pre-used’ areas, should be used if possible.

4. Leaders can use motorised transport to take participants to the start point of their route and pick them up at their end point. Travel to and from the expedition location each day is additional to the required hours of activity time.

5. Teams at all Award levels are allowed to return home to sleep during their expedition. They should, however, still plan and cook their meals as a team, and of course meet the minimum hours of planned activity during each day. Expeditions must be self-sufficient so, even though participants are going home to sleep, they need to carry appropriate expedition kit. Participants should carry some form of shelter and warmth in case of emergency, although this could be a survival shelter rather than a tent. Participants should also carry all food and clothing that they will need for the whole expedition.

Alternatively, if you have permission to use your school field (or any other area) for camping, then this is acceptable under the new temporary flexibilities. Journeying from, and returning to, the same camping area each night is also allowed.

6. Expedition Assessors for Silver and Gold levels can be known to the group. This includes helping run the DofE group, or supporting expedition training – although they must still be an Accredited Assessor.

We’ve put together eDofE guidance on evidencing temporary changes here.

Expeditions in restricted spaces

As part of the temporary changes, expeditions can now be run in restricted spaces such as school or youth group grounds. This model offers LOs and AAPs greater flexibility in delivering expeditions whilst following the specific guidance and rules for their sector, and their own local policies and procedures.

We’ve developed resources to support LOs to deliver expeditions in restricted spaces.

Download overview

We’ve also created four templates to outline how expeditions in restricted spaces could be run. These templates give ideas for the timings and types of activities that could be included.

Take a look at how DofE centres across the UK have run their expeditions with a difference.

We’ll keep sharing details on all of the above – 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 they can be used in varying combinations. Operations Officers are on hand to help LOs in their planning.

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