The Duke of Edinburgh's Award

Welcome to The Hemel Hempstead School Duke of Edinburgh Award section of the website. Here we hope to outline what is involved at each level, not just to serve as a reminder to existing participants but also to inform younger students as to what could be a rewarding experience in years to come!

More information about the DofE Awards can also be found at

We offer our students the chance to participate in the three levels:

  • Bronze, which is started in Year 10.
  • Silver, which is start in Year 11.
  • Gold, which is started in Year 12.

Each level has four sections;

  1. Service
  2. Skill
  3. Physical Recreation
  4. Expedition

The expeditions are organised by the school but students are responsible for the other three sections. Expedition training varies between levels. At Bronze level, you train one lunchtime per week from December to June. Silver and Gold normally involve one planning day (usually a Sunday) in the term before each expedition and two training days on location immediately before the expedition. Equipment can be provided by the school but as you progress through the levels you may wish to obtain your own gear. Many staff and former students have been involved in the Award over the years at Hemel Hempstead School and we would like to acknowledge their contributions here. Without their help the current team would not be able to run the expeditions! Thank you!

Forthcoming expeditions

Provisional dates for 2023 include 30th March – 4th April 2023 for next year’s Gold Practice expedition, and 14th – 20th July 2023 for the Gold/Silver Qualifying expedition, so pencilling dates in diaries now would be a good idea!

Bronze Award


This is all about helping people and the community. It could include helping with ATC, Boys Brigade, Cubs, Scouts, and Guides. It could be any Youth work with your local church, taking a first aid course or helping in a charity shop. If you are a Sports Leader or help run a lunchtime activity at school this would count.


This is all about discovering new hobbies and interests (or improving one you already do). If you play an instrument you are halfway there! There are nearly 200 suggestions on the website ( ranging from Astronomy to Stamp collecting.

Physical Recreation

This is the perfect opportunity to take up a new sport and get fit at the same time (ready for the expeditions). Again, check for examples, ranging from archery to yoga. Those of you who play sport on a regular basis for a local team would be able to count this as your physical activity. All of these sections require 3 months commitment; you must choose one to follow for 6 months.

The Expedition

This involves preparing for, and carrying out, an adventurous journey as part of a team. HHS takes their students on their expedition in the Chilterns at the end of June; the expedition lasts for two days and involves an overnight camp. If you don’t get lost you should walk about 25 km.


This covers a wide range of essential skills and knowledge to prove yourselves competent to go out on expedition. Topics include first aid, camp craft, how to put up tents and cook food, how to read a map, what to wear, the countryside code, how to avoid blisters and how to use a compass. There is a combination of on-line training sessions and a practical competency day, usually held towards the end of May.

Silver Award

The Silver level is followed in year eleven. It includes the same four sections but the time factor changes. The Skill section and Physical Recreation section have to be three and six months minimum (but you choose which is which). You should take the opportunity to ring the changes from Bronze but if you do want to continue the same activity you must be able to show further progress. The Service section is six months.

At Silver level you must be prepared for a more physically demanding expedition. There will be a practice expedition in mid-October, usually in Derbyshire, which will consist of a training day and then a three-day expedition involving two overnight camps and a route of approximately 50 km.

There is a planning day for this, usually on a Sunday in September. The Qualifying expedition will be in the third week of July and will either be in the Lake District or Snowdonia. As for the practice expedition there will be planning days in May and then two training days on location immediately prior to the actual expedition.

Gold Award

ou begin the Gold level after GCSE’s when you enter the sixth form and, as you would expect, the expectations are higher. The Skill and Physical Recreation sections have to be six and twelve months minimum (again, you can choose), and the Service Section is now twelve months.

The practice expedition is just before Easter in the Brecon Beacons, at Dulwich Field Centre. There is a planning day at the end of January and the expedition consists of a training day on location immediately followed by a four-day expedition. This involves three overnight camps and a total route of about 80 km. The Qualifying expedition will be in the third week of July and alternates between the Lake District or Snowdonia. As for the practice expedition there will be a planning day in May and then two training days on location immediately prior to the actual expedition.

Once you have completed the four sections at Gold level, you must complete the Residential section. This will involve you in a project where you work with a group of young people (none of whom you know) for around five days. This gives you the opportunity to meet new people, work as part of a team and show initiative. For more details go to and check out the residential section information.

The DofE at HHS

This has been running since the mid-eighties at HHS and is a wonderful opportunity for students to develop teamwork skills in addition to improving their general fitness and exploring unfamiliar parts of the country. There are three levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold; you start with Bronze in year ten, progress to Silver in year eleven and Gold in the Sixth form. Each level has four sections, volunteering, skills, physical activity and an expedition.

So a typical student could help run a lunchtime club or go shopping for an elderly neighbour, learn a musical instrument or develop baking skills, and either play sport regularly or go running for the first three sections (and many students find that activities they already participate in would count towards their award). And then there’s the expedition, now that really takes you out of your comfort zone. For bronze you have a two-day gentle stroll in the Chilterns with an overnight camp – but you have to take all your gear and food with you, and the rucksacks can get heavy, so don’t bring the microwave! For silver you go for three days (two overnight camps) and we go further afield, to the Peak District for the practice and then either Snowdonia or the Lake District for the qualifier (yes there are two expeditions for each section as you need to discover how to navigate in open country before you are assessed). For Gold you walk for four days (three overnight camps) and we take you to the Brecon Beacons (where the SAS train) for the practice and then to either the Lake District or Snowdonia for your final expedition.

We can’t guarantee good weather, so please don’t complain afterwards if you suffered from whatever the gods chose to throw at you. We can guarantee variety, and we have had everything over the years, from heatwaves to blizzards, but if you remember to wear a hat you will have some protection from sunburn and hypothermia. It is good fun – we invite you to apply in year ten and one girl wrote in her letter of application that her reason was, “My sister did DofE all the way up to Gold and said it was by far and away the best thing she had ever done at school; so I thought it has got to be good.”

It’s difficult to be precise about the cost, but there is a registration fee of about £30 for each level, and costs of the expeditions are roughly £50 for Bronze, 2 lots of £200 for Silver and 2 lots of £200 for Gold. As for equipment, school will provide tents and cooking gear, we have some rucksacks to lend but you may well find relatives can lend you rucksacks so you don’t need to spend a fortune on top-range walking gear. However, just like cars need decent tyres, you will need decent walking boots. Wellies and flip-flops are not suitable!

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