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Duke of Edinburgh's Award for Home Educators (and Their Friends)

Thanks to all those who came to the meeting on Monday 27th. 

Bronze/Silver Expedition Details - Save the Days!

31 May – 2 June - Training Day and Practice Expedition - Ashdown Forest (East Sussex)

27-28 July - Qualifying Expedition Bronze (South Downs to Eastbourne)

26-28 July - Qualifying Expedition for Silver (South Downs to Eastbourne, starting a day earlier for a 3-day, 2-night expedition)

Either the East Sussex area or in the Chilterns – we’ll confirm once we see where people are located.

Bronze £349 for all five days, three nights. Silver £399 for all six days, three nights.

Here's a useful page with a video of advice and a download of the minibook we give to all participants on our expeditions.

We’re pleased to announce that we have negotiated access to the DofE Award scheme for home educated young people across the UK. We've teamed up with our sibling company, Outspark, also run by Jason, to offer a Bronze and Silver  expedition programme in May-July 2024 - many of you may have met Outspark staff Martin, Jenny & Tim on our Weekenders. Those of you who do any of our online classes already have the Skills section of your DofE covered, and the Award is a great opportunity to develop new skills and interests. 

The Expedition Programme

Before the Training/Practice, we'll get together on Zoom so you can form teams, get some advice on kit and menu planning, and work out a menu and who is bringing what.


On the training day, your team will walk with an instructor to learn the skills of navigation, emergecy procedures and so on. Back at camp in the evening, you'll learn about campcraft  - tents, cooking on camping stoves etc. before getting a hopefully good night's sleep ahead of your practice expedition which starts the next day.


On your practice expedition, you're a self-sufficient team of seven, walking independently between checkpoints to a different campsite, and then on the third day on to your final destination. It's a bit like a dress-rehearsal for your qualifying expedition - a chance to make some mistakes, learn from them and be ready for your final challenge.


On the qualifying expedition, you'll take all you've learned to be a smooth expeditioning machine - or at least not to get as lost for as long! You'll have opportunities to plan your menu and organise as a team in advance. 

Those who do go to school but who want to do their DofE alongside home-educated friends that they’ve met on our residentials should be able to join in too. Please note that you can register with DofE Direct whether you want to do your expeditions with us or not, and we're also happy to help with tips for expeditioning and other sections in our drop-in zooms. If you're too far away from the southeast to do your Bronze/Silver with us, we might be able tro recommend a more local expedition provider.

Step 1  If you weren't able to make the zoom, or for a refresher, take a look at which has all the info you need about the Award in general. Our expedition programme in 2024 will be for Bronze and Silver, and don't generally  recommend you go straight to Gold unless you have expeditioning experience already. But you can register for whatever level you're eligible for and find your own expedition provider.


Step 2 –  Contact DofE Direct. This was set up to let people who couldn’t do Gold at their school to register, but it’s now open to home educators for all levels.  Email Romany Greatrex on Please cc in to help us keep track, as DofE won't be able to share your details with us. Here's a template you can copy and paste.

I've heard about the option of DofE Direct for Home Educators via GIFT/P4HE (Jenny Cusick & Jason Buckley have been corresponding with you).


My son/daughter _______ would like to enrol for DofE Bronze/Silver/Gold (delete as applicable). They will be __ years old at the end of this academic year (31st August 2024). They prefer not to access the award through school or a youth organisation because _______ 


Please send me details of how I can register.


Romany asks that you don’t use the online form for DofE Direct as that’s geared to over 18s doing Gold. The cost of registering is £75 (that goes direct to DofE to cover the cost of administering the award).


Step 3 – Register using the instructions Romany will give you. 


Step 4 - When your welcome pack arrives from DofE, email to let us know. The pack is fairly self-explanatory,  but once there are enough people for it to be helpful, we’ll set up a zoom for participants and parents to talk you through the award and answer questions. 


Step 5 – Get on and do it! Make a start on some or all your sections. We’ll have drop-in zooms where you can ask questions and get ideas for what to do. These will be open to all people from the home-ed community (and those with lots of home-ed friends who are using this route) as DofE Direct can only offer limited support.


If you do any of our online classes, you’ve already got the Skills section covered, and Physical is just about any regular activity that involves moving your body. Volunteering is the trickiest, but there may be great opportunities to help with younger home-educatees. 


Step 6 – Expeditions! This is the famous bit of DofE. There are lots of Approved Activity Providers around the UK offering “Open Expeditions” that you can go along to as an individual or team, but for those of you who want to be part of a mostly home-educated group, we are teaming up with Outspark to offer a Bronze expedition programme. Outspark is an Approved Activity Provider for DofE Expeditions at all levels. It’s run by Jason who has been running expeditions since 2006 and has seen thousands of participants through.

You will likely find other providers who offer a cheaper 4-day programme, but when we’ve run those, we’ve felt there’s not enough time to train you for a proper challenge.


We’ll send out full information and sign-up details in a few months once people are registered. We hope that’s enough information for you to get started! If you’ve got any other questions, please check below before emailing us.​



Is there a deadline to register?

You can register with DofE at any time. We aim to open bookings for the May-July Bronze/Silver Expeditions programme in time to include a face-to-face meeting in the January residential for those who attend that, but that's just for convenience. We expect to close bookings at the end of February to give plenty of time to form teams that can  plan together in a zoom meeting before the expeditions. But we'd recommend getting registered as soon as you can - it's good to get a few sections under your belt before your expedition. Of course, we expect these expeditions to be an ongoing thing, and to create opportunities for Silver and Gold too in the following years.

Will you be able to help with completing the Award?

You’ll be registered with DofE Direct so it will Romany and her team who actually approve and administer your Award. But because we know their time is very limited, we’ll be running zooms drop-ins to answer your questions. Jason, Jenny and Martin have all got lots of DofE experience so they’ll have good advice.  

Can I register even if I don’t do any classes with P4HE/Gift and will be doing my expeditions elsewhere?

Yes. We’ve taken a lead on negotiating with DofE about home educator access because we know the Award well and can set up an expedition programme with home educators in mind. But it’s an opportunity for the whole community. If lots of people get involved, we might become a National Operating Authority for DofE which will allow us to offer better support, but in any case, the zooms for DofE advice we provide will be a free service to anyone in the home ed community.​

It says you can register for Bronze if I’m 13 but turn 14 during the school year. Can I do that even though I’m not at school?

We don’t see why not. Please ask Romany and let us know if you set a precedent. ​



Who is running the expeditions?

The expeditions will be run by Outspark, an Approved Activity Provider for the Expedition section. It’s also registered with the Adventurous Activities Licensing Authority, and has a Learning Outside the Classoom Certificate. It’s run by Jason who is Director of Studies at GIFT/P4HE, and those of you who come on our Weekender Residentials will have met Jenny, Martin, and Tim who all work for Outspark too. They’re nice people who get the ethos of home education. GIFT/P4HE will administer registering for the expeditions and provide pastoral support, with the help of some parent volunteers. Other Approved Activity Providers are available.


Where can I learn about expedition skills?

Click here to download “Smashing My DofE” which Jason wrote as a handy guide. You’ll get a copy if you do your expeditions with us.​​  

I can’t make both sets of dates. Can I still take part?

If you are able to do your training and practice with us, you should be able to find a provider to do your qualifying expedition with. The cost for the training and practice part alone would be £225. If you are able to do a practice expedition with another provider, you will be able to do your qualifying expedition with us as long as there is space in a group – we wouldn’t really want to split a group of seven to make two fours when they’ve already completed an expedition together. The cost would be £175. If you can complete a practice expedition with another provider, you may be able to join us for the qualifying expedition.  


Do you provide kit for the expeditions?

Outspark will provide stoves, gas, pans, compasses, maps, emergency phone. We also have a limited amount of tents that we can provide if your group don’t have enough. We can’t generally provide personal kit such as rucksacks, but let us know if you’re struggling as we have some spares.

Can we choose our own teams?

As far as possible, yes. Teams should generally be of seven people. They can be single-gender or mixed. You can form your own teams but we ask you to be welcoming to filling up spare spaces with people who don’t have a team yet, or sometimes to splitting a team so that everyone can find a team. (For example, if there are 7 of you and one extra person, we’d need you to split into two teams of 4).


How does transport work?

You’d need to be dropped off and picked up. During the expedition, you’ll be your own transport! We’ll have cars available in an emergency of course. At the end you’ll need to be picked up from your destination. We’ll encourage car-sharing.

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