All Scout groups have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to support the participation of young people with additional needs. Developing a positive relationship and working in partnership with parents or carers is key to supporting the successful inclusion of young people with additional needs in Scouting.
Where a young person with additional needs or disabilities is joining Scouting we advise an initial meeting with the parent or carer. This will enable you to identify the young person’s individual needs and plan any support needed to enable them to access Scouting.
Ideally, this conversation would take place face to face. The conversation should involve the leader, parent or carer and, if appropriate, the young person themselves. It may be helpful to involve someone in a local inclusion role or who has particular expertise in this area. Ensure that the meeting feels like a conversation, not an interview; it is just the starting point of an ongoing relationship.
It is important to be positive but realistic, and to establish expectations by helping parents or carers understand our policy and approach within the context of Scouting. There is a FAQ for parents or carers around inclusion at scouts.org.uk/parents . Introducing the parent or carer to the Programme and offering a sense of what a typical section meeting looks like will help them to anticipate the aspects of Scouting that their child may particularly enjoy or find beneficial, and any aspects they may need some additional support with.
Be honest about your level of knowledge and skills, and explain you are keen to learn from them. Ask about how the young person is supported at home and at school, and discuss any strategies or approaches that could be used in Scouting. Explain to the parent or carer how you plan to store and share information, and ensure that they agree to this.
Further guidance, along with suggested topics and questions, are available within our parent or carer conversation framework.
Prior to the meeting, it may be useful to gain some background knowledge of the type of additional need the young person has. The Additional Needs Directory has lots of introductory information. Remember that each young person will be different, so avoid making any assumptions, and take the lead from the parent or carer in the language they use to describe their child’s additional needs. Look again at the Scout Association’s page if you need more information.