Expedition changes FAQs
Why did the DofE make 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The 20 conditions have been replaced by the expedition requirements.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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

Do AAPs still require an AALA licence to deliver Gold Expeditions?

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 instead become progressively more challenging through the award levels. Where an LO is working with an AAP, a conversation should take place between both organisations to determine what a progressive challenge looks like for the participants in question.

As a result, there is no longer a blanket requirement by the DofE for AAPs to hold an AALA licence to deliver Gold Expeditions. However, AAPs will still need to hold an AALA licence when they are operating in AALA licensable activities (which is likely to be the case for many Gold level expeditions), as this is a legal requirement. Further information about an AALA licence can be found here.

Do providers who are supporting with elements of an expedition in a restricted space need to be an AAP?

Expeditions must be run by an LO or AAP, which takes responsibility for running the expedition under the terms of the licence they are granted by DofE. When an LO takes corporate responsibility for running an expedition under its own licence, the organisation can choose to engage an external provider to run a specific activity e.g. climbing wall and that external organisation does not need to hold an AAP licence. In this instance, all activities involved in the delivery of the Expedition (including those delivered by an external party) are the overall responsibility of the LO and must be delivered under that LOs policies and procedures.

The AAP licence will remain compulsory for those organisations who wish to be responsible for delivering the DofE Expedition programme in part or in full (specifically: training, practice, qualifying expeditions etc).

Will training requirements for Expedition Supervisors, Assessors and Leaders change as a result of these changes?

Your Educational Visits Coordinator (or equivalent), or your organisation’s specific policies, will set the staffing ratios and the technical expertise required by staff that each expedition requires. The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) produces National Guidance, which provides comprehensive support for the management of high-quality outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities.

We have recently launched our new online learning platform which allows you to access the Expedition Assessor and Supervisor pathway. The learning platform lets you set your own pace and complete your learning on desktop and mobile apps, in a way that suits you. The EASTC and EAS pathway are the same, and on completion of the pathway delegates will be able to access their eDofE account and progress to accreditation as normal.

Has the Expedition Guide been updated to reflect these changes?

We are currently working to convert the Expedition Guide to a digital resource that is freely available for the whole DofE network. Currently, if anyone orders a copy of the Expedition Guide from DofE Essentials they will receive an addendum that outlines the changes. If you would like to download a copy of the addendum to go alongside your version of the Expedition Guide then you can download it here.

Are there any elements of an expedition that we can’t change when looking to make expeditions more accessible?

The Expedition Requirements have been designed in a way that should mean that they are appropriate for all young people and all types of expeditions. These requirements are integral to meeting the section outcomes and if an individual or team of young people are unable to meet them, then the DofE Leader must seek support from their Operations Officer. There are many ways that, outside of changing the Expedition Requirements, expeditions can be made accessible. These could include:

  • Increased training opportunities before the qualifying expedition.
  • Closer supervision, including 1:1 support.
  • Pre-positioned expedition equipment.
  • Alternative navigation methods e.g. local maps, photo route cards.
  • Running expeditions in more familiar environments.
  • Returning home to sleep.
Do we need to apply for participants to return home to sleep or record this anywhere on eDofE?

There are currently no plans to record where young people sleep on expeditions; we don’t currently record whether they are using simple self-catering accommodation, or camping. We know that most of our leaders are passionate about the outdoors, and most young people will continue to camp out as before.

Do we still need to diversify expedition locations across levels or could participants complete multiple expeditions in the same environment?

Yes, we would expect young people to use different environments and locations as they progress through the levels – becoming more challenging as they go.

Is the time associated with using motorised transport included within planned activity time?

No, if the expedition is planned to use motorised transport at the beginning or the end of the day then this would be outside of the planned activity time. The time associated with loading up the minibus / canoe trailer would also fall outside of the planned activity time and should allow for a similar expedition experience should the participants have planned a route that started and finished at campsites.

Could motorised transport be used to support taking participants to hospital to check on an injury and then return to their qualifying expedition?

Potentially, but the Supervisor would have to make sure this can be facilitated outside of the planned activity time and doesn’t prevent the participant from achieving the outcomes of the expedition section. If by intervening in the expedition in this way, the participant would no longer be able to meet the Expedition Requirements, then they should defer the qualifying expedition.

Have there been changes to the minimum hours of planned activity each day?

No, these remain 6 hours for Bronze, 7 hours for Silver and 8 hours for Gold. At each level 50% of the time should be spent journeying and the rest should cover any project work based on their team goal, lunch and rests. 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 I can’t meet the minimum number of participants in an expedition group requirement?

These minimum numbers have been set so all young people can experience the expedition in a team environment and also for safety whilst being remotely supervised; if one group member is injured, it ensures that no one will be left alone. If you cannot facilitate an expedition for a group of participants then you should speak to your Operations Officer who will be able to explore the options available. These could include running an expedition with young people who aren’t enrolled in the Award, working with other Licensed Organisations, running the expedition at a different time or working with an AAP.

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