Expedition FAQs
Why is the DofE making changes to the Expedition section?

We’re making changes to Expedition section rules after extensive consultation with our network, young people, and staff.

At the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, we quickly put in place a package of temporary flexibilities to programme rules to make sure that young people could still work towards and achieve their DofE. One of the things we’ve learnt during this period is that by enabling greater flexibility, we’ve also enabled innovation and greater inclusion, especially regarding participation in expeditions – for example, by young people with SEND requirements or from marginalised backgrounds. We’re delighted that the approaches tested during the pandemic have enabled many more young people to complete an expedition and go on to achieve a full award.

By making these changes we hope to make the programme more accessible for more young people, regardless of personal circumstances.

All the temporary changes remain in place until the end of October 2023, with the permanent changes coming into effect from November 2023.

How did the DofE decide which changes to make permanent?

Over the past year, we have done extensive consultation with young people and those involved in delivering the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and analysed feedback. With the overall goal of ensuring expeditions are as accessible and inclusive as possible, whilst remaining challenging and high quality, we integrated this feedback into updated Expedition section rules.

Why have the 20 conditions been removed?

The 20 conditions have been replaced by the expedition requirements. Our new Expedition Requirements remain true to the ‘20 Conditions’ – but in some areas we’ve refreshed the wording to make sure expeditions can be adapted to meet the needs of all today’s young people.

Can participants still count their Silver practice expedition as their Bronze Qualifying expedition after the temporary changes end?

No, this Covid-19 temporary change will not become a permanent change after October 2023. Feedback emphasised the importance of multiple experiences for young people, especially in relation to reflecting on their expedition and developing skills between the practice and qualifying expedition, and between Award levels.

Is it still a requirement to travel to wild country for Gold expeditions?

No, participants no longer need to travel to wild country for Gold expeditions as there is no longer defined terrain for each award level, but the environment must still become progressively more challenging through the award levels. The Leader should consider the expedition the group completed at Bronze and Silver or the level of experience and training they have and decide how they will increase this challenge at Gold. Expeditions can be made more challenging by choosing a location that is unfamiliar, more remote and more challenging to navigate in.

Feedback from our temporary changes during Covid-19 showed that Gold expeditions that were still an appropriate challenge to participants could be organised outside of wild country. Leaders may still decide to run expeditions in wild country areas (especially for higher award levels), as running expeditions in these more remote locations is an excellent way to ensure participants are increasingly challenged as they progress through their awards.

Can participants return home to sleep to reduce total costs for the expedition?

The option to return home at night should only be used where participants previously would not have been able to access an expedition at all (e.g. for medical, religious or specific individual need) and not as a cost-saving measure. Feedback when evaluating the temporary changes emphasised the importance of overnight stays and the desire for most young people to have this experience in order to benefit from the outcomes of the section. Leaders should remember when planning expeditions that it must be suitably challenging for their young people.

Our Access Without Limits programmes provide financial support to those who need it most.

Can we use motorised transport to open up new expedition areas?

Yes, motorised transport can be used at the start or end of a route. This could allow, for example, for participants to journey on rivers or coastlines where there aren’t campsites on the banks, or to use campsites that are close to busy roads without easy walking access.

Are we still allowed to run practice and qualifying expeditions back-to-back post-October 2023?

Yes, although it’s worth bearing in mind factors such as age, level, amount of training and mode of travel before committing to a back-to-back expedition. DofE Supervisors, Leaders and participants are best placed to decide on the length of gap between the practice and qualifying expeditions.

Can DofE Expedition Assessors be known to the group?

Yes, during Covid-19 we introduced a temporary flexibility that allowed Assessors at all levels to be known to the group and the feedback was extremely positive. The feedback highlighted the positive experiences for both participants and Leaders when they can see how a young person has progressed over time. It was decided that any restrictions around the Assessor being known to the group would be removed moving forward.

Can Assessors be involved in the training and practice expeditions?

Yes, at all levels the Assessor can be involved in the training of the team.

During lockdown we ran a restricted space expedition on our school grounds, are we still able to do this?

Leaders should remember when organising expeditions that whatever they are planning should be an appropriate challenge for the young people they are working with. Running an expedition using a restricted space model should be a considered choice and should not be offered due to convenience. Expeditions in restricted space have been included in the recommended environments as they enable many young people to access and benefit from the outcomes of the expedition section, including those completing their Award in a secure estate.

Can Leaders run a restricted space expedition at all levels?

Leaders need to ensure there is a progressive challenge as participants progress through the Award levels, so they would need to consider whether they could run an engaging, challenging and inspiring expedition at Silver and Gold if they had completed a restricted space expedition at Bronze. LOs should discuss their expedition plan with their Operations Officer if they want to offer these expeditions at multiple levels.

When would it be appropriate to run an urban expedition?

Expeditions in urban environments could be run where Leaders can facilitate an experience that will be challenging and enriching for their young people. The option to run an urban expedition was offered as part of the Covid-19 temporary changes and the feedback afterwards was extremely positive. Feedback showed that when run correctly, these experiences can be both meaningful and challenging.

Leaders should consider the expeditions that participants may have done at previous levels to ensure the planned expedition is progressively challenging. The expedition requirements must still be followed in the same way as when completing a rural expedition.

Do you have to complete the same training framework when organising an urban expedition?

Yes, although many elements of the expedition training framework should be tailored to the mode of travel and environment they are using, e.g. navigation skills, route planning, avoiding hazards.

How do I implement progressive challenge if I have a direct entrant at Gold level?

If expedition teams have direct entrants, then the expedition must be planned at a level which is of a progressive challenge to those that have completed previous levels. If the whole team are direct entrants then the Supervisor will need to consider an expedition which is an appropriate challenge for those individuals and has parity with others completing this level of award. Most Gold level expeditions will be remotely supervised in remote and unfamiliar outdoor environments; Supervisors can speak to their DofE Operations Officer for advice.

Are we still required to have a policy that covers mobile phone and electronic equipment usage on expeditions?

Yes, even though this is not included in the “Expedition Requirements” this should still be agreed upon by the Supervisor, Assessor and expedition team during the pre-expedition check. Leaders should remember that mobile phones can seriously undermine the outcomes of the Expedition section and compromise the team’s attitude and approach to the decision-making processes during their expedition. The more advanced mobile phones become, the greater their potential impact on effective expeditions, so it is vital that the expedition team, Supervisor and Assessor agree well in advance on how the team may use them.

Why can the Assessor and Supervisor be the same person at Bronze but not at Silver or Gold?

Continuing to require a separate Assessor at the other levels, which usually take place in more challenging terrain, ensures that both the Assessor and the Supervisor have sufficient time to carry out their role appropriately. The approach also reflects the progressive nature of Silver and Gold expeditions compared to Bronze.

We’re unable to run an expedition that operates using remote supervision due to the additional needs of the young people we support, is this okay?

Yes, we understand that some groups of participants may require close or direct adult supervision in order to complete an expedition. The DofE allows close supervision where it is necessary to ensure safety and welfare of the young people involved. Supervisors of teams with participants who have additional needs should consider the nature and level of supervision. Levels of remote supervision should be aligned to the group’s individual requirements. As with all expeditions, teams will benefit from the feeling of remoteness and independence and the intrusions by adults should be kept to a minimum. There are now more accessible routes such as disused railway lines, cycle paths and towpaths which can help to allow effective remote supervision. A pre-visit with a thorough review of proposed routes will assist in the planning process.

What counts as planned activity time on each day of an expedition?

Time associated with overnight accommodation and catering is additional to the minimum daytime hours of planned activity. Appropriate breaks and a reasonable time for lunch can be included within the hours of planned activity. 30 minutes should be considered a reasonable amount of time for DofE groups to plan for their lunch stop.

What if the Expedition Assessor doesn’t agree with the Supervisor that an expedition fulfils the Expedition Requirements?

It is the responsibility of the Expedition Supervisor to send the appropriate expedition information to the Assessor in advance. The Assessor will review, approve and agree the plans with the Supervisor; if there is disagreement over whether the plans are appropriate then the Expedition Supervisor must speak to their DofE Operations Officer.

Why has “Aim” been replaced with “Team Goal”?

This change provides consistency in our terminology across the Award and brings the Expedition section in line with the other sections where the importance of developing SMART goals is key. This change also emphasises the collective nature of the expedition section, where the goal should be developed and completed as a team.

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