Sections - Ratcliffe College

Duke of Edinburgh's Award - Sections

There are four sections within a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (five sections at Gold level) and by choosing one activity within each section you are beginning your own unique personal journey through a balanced and wide-ranging programme.  You can choose from a variety of clubs in school or choose activities that are on offer outside school – but they must be extra-curricular activities.

DofE is a marathon, not a sprint, and participants commit to spending an hour per week of their spare time on each section, over a significant timescale:

  • Bronze level – 3 months per section with one section extended to 6 months
  • Silver level – 6 months per section with the physical or skill section reduced to 3 months. (Direct entrants who have not completed Bronze level must increase one section to 12 months).
  • Gold level – 12 months per section with the physical or skill section reduced to 6 months. (Direct entrants who have not completed Silver level must increase once section to 18 months).

Sections do not all have to be undertaken at the same time.

Participants should discuss what they wish to do for a section, identify a suitable teacher or qualified adult to act as their assessor, decide on their own personal goals and then make a start.  At the end of the timescale, adding extra time if weeks are missed for holidays, the assessor should write a lovely report about the achievements, progress made or help given by the young person.

A list of suggestions for each section appears below:



Participants can choose from a variety of activities within school: SVP (helping in the prep school), VSU (visiting the local special needs group), CCF leadership, sports leadership, Mother Theresa group, chaplaincy team work – and more.

The one thing that the activities have in common is a sense of service to the community around you or helping others less fortunate than yourself.  Outside school there are a huge variety of opportunities for volunteering activities: charity shops, animal rescue centres, church work, environmental groups – and many more.

Volunteering Section


Participants can choose from a variety of activities within school: team sport, fitness in the school gym, swimming club, golf to name the most common choices.  Most pupils already commit their time to representing their school team every weekend so this is an ideal choice for this section.

There are many more possibilities available outside school and the one thing that the activities have in common is the improvement in fitness levels that participants will experience.  Choices that Ratcliffe participants have made in the past include wakeboarding, cycling, horseriding, ballroom dancing, climbing, karate and many more.


Participants can choose from a variety of activities within school: drama, music, photography, art (must be extra-curricular not studies related prep), Spitfire Club, Pets’ Corner, French Film Club, Cookery Club, reading novels, Go4SET – and many more.

There are a huge variety of opportunities outside school as most hobbies that are not sports would fit into the skills section somehow.  There should be an element of learning or improvement in skills involved in this section.  There may or may not also be a qualification such as a grade examination in piano.


Participants plan towards and then undertake several unaccompanied, self-reliant journeys in a group.  At Bronze level, we use local countryside (Rutland and Leicestershire), at Silver level we go to more remote areas (southern Peak District and Shropshire Hills) and at Gold level we journey into ‘wild country’ (northern Peak District, Brecon Beacons and Dartmoor).  Participants begin working more closely with a staff member but by the time of their assessed expedition they are ready to journey unaccompanied with just spot checks from leaders.


Participants undertake a shared activity, away from home, with people they have never met before for a minimum of 5 days and 4 nights.  The requirements for this section are very detailed so it is essential to check your plan with Mr Cole (in charge of Gold) before booking anything to ensure that your choice is valid for this section.

Examples of residential activities that participants have gone on in the past include outward bound courses, residential cookery courses, Headstart courses at university, etc.

Residential Suggestions

Residential Opportunities