A “skill” is a hobby or activity that you do regularly, at least one hour a week.

This page explains how to start your skill, what activities you can do, for how long and how to finish. There are lots of examples of skills you can do in lockdown.

How to Start your Skill

  • First, find an adult to be your Assessor with expertise and interest in your Skill. Ask them if they can be your assessor by saying “Please will you be my DofE Assessor for XYZ skill?”. If they agree to be your assessor, then…
  • Talk to them to agree dates, times and goals. Finding an appropriate assessor for unusual skills can be difficult and might limit your choice of skill… so think early…WHO can I ask to assess me?
  • Talk to DofE staff if you are unsure about whether your skill counts.
  • Submit your activity details for approval on edofe so that they can be checked before you start anything.
  • Keep evidence as a log of dates (this is essential). If possible find further ways to show that you are making progress e.g. build a portfolio / photo evidence of progress to upload to edofe.

What activities count as Skills?

Playing a musical instrument is a popular skill


A SKILL CAN BE a practical activity like painting, knitting, playing a musical instrument, gardening, cooking, snooker, cards, learning to be an umpire or sports officiator, creative writing, photography, origami, woodwork etc.

Learning First Aid is a good DofE Skill


A SKILL CAN BE an academic activity like learning chess or taking a course in something, perhaps then passing a test. Importantly, whatever you learn must be completely unconnected to your GCSE or A Level studies. So it is best to choose something new and unrelated to anything you are studying. For example, you could learn a new language but this must not be one of your GCSE subjects.

Choose your DofE Skill carefully. Some activities do not count as Skills because they are in the Physical or Volunteering section instead.

A SKILL must not be an aerobic sport …this would be a Physical Activity and not count e.g. Improving any sport skill does not count as a Skill.

A SKILL must not be based on providing a service…this would be a Volunteering activity and not count. e.g. Being a Life Saver at a pool regularly is a Volunteering activity and not a Skill.

Here is a list of some SKILL activities that do count, but there are countless others below.

Parents cannot be Assessors.

Still stuck for a Skill? Try these…

Music / Drama

Learning Music and Drama in rehearsals, practice and extra-curricular lessons is a popular Skill at RGS.

Also consider…

  • Playing in an orchestra
  • Playing in a band
  • Singing
  • Corps of Drums


Caring requires regular commitment and a good deal of learning to achieve proper care and training for the animal. An element of learning is required.

It is NOT sufficient to simply walk the dog or feed the pet once a day!

Find an assessor who will help you structure your animal care.


  • Regular care and training of animals
  • Dog training and handling
  • Looking after birds or fish
  • Keeping livestock

Learning / Making

Pick something to learn and do regularly.

You will need to find an expert assessor to structure your activity. A regular course can help.

Keep a diary, evaluate your progress, build a portfolio of your work for evidence.


  • Cooking / Cake making
  • Gardening
  • Knitting / textiles
  • Art
  • Film making
  • Web design
  • Sign Language
  • Astronomy, Meteorology
  • Bird Watching
  • Reading/Writing/Journalism (school newspaper)
  • Evening class to learn a new language


*Games that count for Skill do not physically “puff you out”.

Examples include…learning…

  • Chess
  • Cards
  • Shooting
  • Snooker

How long do I do my Skill for?

Follow your skill for the correct timescale below.

You must follow it regularly for the total time, so any time gaps for holidays, add to the end.

Doing your skill for one hour per week over 3 months or longer DOES count for DofE. 

A SHORT intensive period of activity squashed into a few days will NOT COUNT e.g. an intensive four day course learning something would NOT count for your Skill. Please ASK before you book anything so that we can advise you before you spend any money on courses. 

Rule of thumb: If it puffs you out then it is more than likely a sport and will not count as a Skill for DofE.


  • Sports do not count as Skills. So playing football, hockey, table tennis or doing swimming, dancing, ballet etc etc are SPORTS and NOT SKILLS!
  • Learning a sport or an aspect of a sport does NOT count as a skill.
  • Bike maintenance is a skill, cycling is a sport.
  • Canoeing is a sport, canoe building is a skill.
  • Life saving is a Volunteering activity, learning to life save on a course is a skill.
  • Ballet and dance are sports.


Remember that school lessons do not ever count towards DofE. This includes PSHE, Electives, PE, first aid electives, games ..none of these are allowed for any DofE section.  

However..Clubs in lunchtime and after school can count, so long as you ask the adult in charge to be your assessor and you then regularly attend for a minimum of 1 hour per week over the correct timescale.

How do I finish my Skill?

See this page on how to finish your skill: How to finish your Award

Here are more ideas for Skills you can do during lockdown…

Below are loads of ideas of ways you can do your Skills section at home. For more inspiration, check out our full list of Skills section activities.

– Learn first aid with St John Ambulance

– Share your creative talents and interests and achieve an Arts Award qualification

– Complete an online course with U:Bee

– Complete ICC Educate’s online Awesome Exporting course

– Take part in online music lessons with Waltham Forest Music Tuition

– Complete an online typing course with Spark 4 KidsType It or Qwerty Kids

– Learn how to code with Ignite HubsFire Tech or Spark 4 Kids

– Brush up on your driving skills with GA Driving Education’s home-based course

– Try Growing Minds’ online wellbeing and mindfulness course

– Sharpen your photography skills with Sharp Shots Photo ClubiPhotography or Click Photography.

– Learn to cook in your own kitchen with Be in the KitchenBlackberry CottageCookability,  Egg and SoldiersFlora’s KitchenKiddy CookLorna Wing Cookery, Sassy StirrersThe Organic Cookery SchoolEtoile Bakery and Ruth’s Little Kitchen

– Make your own bath bombs and soaps with Soakster

– Learn how to speak an African language with Tuition for Juniors

– Learn how to create a film with LemonWedge

– Find out about Creative Careers with Strange Creative

– Express yourself with a creative writing course

– Learn sign language

– Do a free online CISCO Course in Internet of ThingsLinux Unhatched or Cyber Security

– Explore The Great Indoorswith weekly activities from the Scouts

– Join the virtual youth orchestra

– Complete weekly Adventures At Home with Girl Guiding

– Do a John Muir Award to discover nature from home

– Do a STEM based project with a CREST Award 

– Take part in online quizzes and learn about new subjects with Quizlet

– Do a free online money management course with the Open University

Download and find more skill ideas here:

programme ideas – Skills

SKILLS dofe guidance

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