news 29 July 2019

Changes to the Bronze Expedition section

The DofE is responsible for ensuring that our programmes offer young people the chance to experience new activities, grow in confidence and develop useful skills for life and work in a non-competitive environment. The DofE is thriving today because, since being founded in 1956 by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, we’ve continually evolved the way our programmes are delivered – enabling us to remain relevant, rewarding and challenging for the benefit of young people.

We know that when participants fail to complete all but one section of their Bronze DofE, it’s most often the Expedition section that they have left to do. We also listened to feedback on the challenges and opportunities faced by Licensed Organisations (LOs) across the UK, including the limited capacity of centres to run expeditions and the cost for participants to complete them.

To try to help address those issues, earlier this year we ran a UK-wide trial. We offered LOs five new options, any or all of which they could use with their Bronze DofE groups during the 2018 expedition season, to assess if they improved the number of participants starting and completing their programme or Expedition section. These were:

1. Increased use of indoor accommodation

2. Leader-set aim

3. No presentation

4. Combined Supervisor/Assessor

5. No practice expedition

Following the success of the trial, we’ve introduced a number of permanent changes to Bronze-level programmes – ready for LOs to make the most of during the 2018/19 expedition season.

Results of the trial

Nearly 800 Licensed Organisations (LOs) signed up to take part in the trial and have reported positive results – benefitting from the flexibility introduced in the trial, which allowed them to make best use of their resources so that they could meet their needs at a local level while still delivering great experiences for participants.

1: Increased use of indoor accommodation

The majority of Leaders who used this option said that using indoor accommodation would encourage more young people within their LO to take part in the DofE. It helped them to inspire young people who’d initially been put off doing their DofE by the idea of camping and helped Leaders who had participants with additional needs.

2: Leader-set aim

98% of adults said that the learning outcomes were better, or at least no different, with a Leader-set aim. Feedback suggests that this flexibility was applied based on ability. For some groups, setting their own aim was still appropriate. However, for other participants, this helped Leaders to provide the focus or set something that would be appropriate for the group’s ability or needs.

3: No presentation

Over 90% agreed that the Assessor debrief helped participants understand what they had achieved and that it was sufficient to draw out any learning points. This suggests that not having a presentation doesn’t impact the participant’s experience or learning outcomes. Many comments from Leaders suggested participants enjoyed and were motivated by the immediacy of success and completion once they had finished the expedition. The participants’ responses backed this up, with 86% feeling the debrief helped them understand what they had achieved and what they would do differently. Not doing a presentation also had a significant impact on the speed of sign-off of the Expedition section – 84% of Leaders could sign it off within two weeks.

4: Combined Supervisor/Assessor

98% of LOs who used this option as part of the trial said that the qualifying expedition was ‘better’ or ‘no different’ in terms of safety and incidents compared to previous expeditions with separate Assessor and Supervisor roles. Plus, 85% felt the quality either wasn’t affected or was better than having the two separate roles.

5: No practice expedition

The majority of Leaders reported that there was ‘no difference’ (70%) in the safety or preparedness of participants compared to those who had completed a two-day practice expedition. Participants overwhelmingly scored themselves high on how well trained they felt before completing their qualifying expedition (77% scored 4 or 5).

What are the changes

We believe that offering greater flexibility in the 20 conditions for the Bronze Expedition section will help Licensed Organisations (LOs) meet the growing demand for participation in DofE programmes with the resources available to them without having a detrimental impact on the outcomes for young people. It will also make the DofE more attractive to young people – particularly for those who are put off by the idea of camping. These flexibilities include:

1: Indoor accommodation

Although indoor accommodation has always been an option for all Award levels, we’ll be raising LOs’ awareness of this option for Bronze-level expeditions. This is to ensure that any Bronze DofE groups who can benefit from this flexibility, especially SEN groups, are encouraged to take it up.

2: Leader-set generic aim

Participants will be able to decide if they’d like to come up with their own aim for their Bronze-level expedition or to have a generic aim set by their Leader or Expedition Supervisor. This will enable Leaders to give more support to Bronze DofE groups that are struggling to think of ideas or destinations, modes of travel and project themes.

3: No presentation

The presentation will no longer be a requirement for Bronze-level expeditions. However, Bronze DofE groups must still have an aim and there must be a thorough Assessor debrief at the end of the expedition to consolidate learning, which is supported by the Assessor debrief notes.

4: Combined Supervisor/Assessor

Bronze-level expeditions will be able to have one individual performing both the Supervisor and Assessor role. However, the individual performing both roles must be an accredited Assessor and have completed the DofE’s EAAS course. They must also fulfil the LO’s or AAP’s requirements to supervise expeditions.

The Supported Assessment element of the EAAS course has been removed. The current EAAS course will continue, although a new course, which will contain the updated programme requirements and have more interactive elements, is being developed for 2020.

For more information, please see the Route to Accreditation and the updated EAAS/13 form.

5: No practice expedition

A practice expedition is no longer a requirement at Bronze-level. However, participants are still expected to reach the skills and fitness levels appropriate for completing the remotely supervised, qualifying expedition.

The Bronze Training Framework has been updated to emphasise the need for participants to ‘understand and demonstrate’ specific skills before their qualifying expedition. It also includes some example methods of delivery to help Leaders and Expedition Supervisors.

Over the next few months, we’ll be producing a set of expedition training resources to help Leaders and Supervisors run robust and creative training for their Bronze DofE groups.

We hope that by having a more positive experience of the great outdoors as a result of these changes, more young people will be motivated to continue their DofE experience by progressing to the Silver Award level.


Here you can find out first-hand what some of our Leaders and participants have to say about the options their Licensed Organisation used as part of the trial.

Increased use of indoor accommodation

“We work with SEN children and the indoor accommodation option improved the sense of security for all parties – staff who were unsure about student behaviour and students who had never ‘camped’ before or stayed away from home without their parents/guardians. The students were still able to experience the challenges of walking with a backpack, map reading, cooking outdoors etc. but were more comfortable with the accommodation for their first time. I’m certain that most will feel capable of rising to the challenge of doing their Silver DofE next year.”
Leader, London

“Excellent idea and it certainly helped encourage a couple of my students to do their expedition, as they had an extreme fear of staying in a tent. However, since they’ve completed their expedition, they’d now like to try camping with the other students!”
Leader, South West

Leader-set aim

“We gave participants a list of aims to choose from – a lot of them wouldn’t have known what type of project to do otherwise. Plus, by having options, we knew that the projects they’d be doing were suitable and that they wouldn’t feel the imposing element of a having a new task to handle alongside navigating, etc. This has really helped us and saved us so much time and drama.”
School, South West

“Having a Leader-set aim ensures parity, clarity and is something that is easy to assess and potentially something simple for participants to demonstrate while on an expedition. If participants can come up with a sensible and interesting aim, and show how they will achieve it, this can still be an option. But having a Leader-set aim simplifies this part of the expedition greatly.”
Leader, Central England

No presentation

“I don’t think that the presentation is necessary, as the debrief helped us to understand our expedition. Plus, many groups just take photos or create a video diary, which is difficult to talk about during a presentation.”
Participant, South West

“Some students find it difficult to reflect on their achievements at such a young age, so having a debrief helps to assist their thinking much better than a group presentation. Also, there is always inevitably someone who participates more or less, so this is more inclusive in the reflective element at the end of an expedition.”
Leader, Central England

Combined Supervisor/Assessor

“As both the Supervisor and Assessor, it allows me to have a better opinion of the groups. In my school, I know my participants very well. I know their limitations and how to motivate them. This gave me a much greater advantage when assessing and allowed for a more confident, reliable assessment.”
Leader, Scotland

“At Bronze level, I think this is a good idea as the participants benefit from having a relaxed and established relationship with their Supervisor/Assessor and organisations can offer DofE programmes in-house cost-effectively using their own suitably qualified staff.”
Leader, Metropolitan Police Service Volunteer Cadets

No practice expedition

“We did plenty of training, and I couldn’t tell any difference between those that had or hadn’t done a full practice expedition. It would make a massive impact on trying to arrange weekends for expeditions as many girls alternate weekends with split families or have jobs to work around. I really hope this option is implemented permanently.”
Leader, Girlguiding UK

“For our pupils and their complex needs, the robust training programme within school time allowed more to participate.”
Leader, Wales


We’ve collated a number of frequently asked questions regarding the new system, along with the answers. If you have any questions that aren’t answered in our FAQs, please contact [email protected].


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