09.10.2020 By Tim McArthur

Programme Timescales: completing the minimum number of hours

To help ensure as many young people as possible achieve their Award we’ve looked at the reasons why some Awards have been queried over the past few months. One particular query is raised more often than others, particularly at Gold level, which is that participants haven’t fulfilled the minimum number of hours for a section to be approved. This is most relevant to those who are doing their Volunteering, Physical or Skills sections for an hour a week over twelve months.

Some participants choose to do their Volunteering, Physical or Skills sections within their school or college which is perfectly acceptable. However, some activities that take place within these environments can’t be continued outside of term time.

As holidays can account for 14 or more weeks out of the academic year, if participants don’t continue with their activities during this time, they’re not completing the full time required for their section to be approved. For example, if a participant needs to complete an activity for six months, but there have been eight weeks of holiday during this period, they’ll need to continue working towards their section for a further eight weeks in order for it to be approved.

If it’s agreed in advance with the Assessor and appropriate evidence can be provided, it may be possible for the nature of an activity to be adapted during holiday time so that the section is still completed within the original amount of time. For example, if someone has been singing in their school choir for their Skills section, they can continue learning music or rehearsing online. Similarly, if they are playing a seasonal sport, once official training has finished it may be possible to work on general fitness skills that will improve their performance.

If activities are only done during term time and no adaptations can be made to continue during the holidays, participants will need to extend the amount of time that they are working towards the section in order to fulfil the minimum number of hours.

For activities that are adapted to be continued during holiday time appropriate evidence will need to be provided by participants and reflected in the Assessor’s Report.

It’s important that DofE Leaders, Co-Ordinators and Managers look out for this when approving sectional activities; it will enable participants to make appropriate choices for their activities and ensure that they are able to complete their Award in the timeframe they’re expecting. As a rule of thumb, a three month section equates to at least 13 hours of activity, six months to 26 hours and 12 months to 52 hours.