There is a large amount of help and reference material available for Leaders. Here are a few that a new Leader might like to know.
Alcohol in Scouting
All our adults need to be physically and mentally fit to undertake the responsibilities of their role. When responsible for young people, adults must not drink alcohol.
During ‘off duty’ periods, adults in Scouting also need to take into account the effects alcohol can have and how it may affect their fitness to fulfil their Scouting duties for the duration of the section meeting, activity or event.
Further guidance on alcohol can be found in the information sheet – ‘Alcohol and Scouting’
Conflicts of interest
As a member of The Scout Association you should not engage in, or be associated with any activity, person or organisation which operates against the interests or values of Scouting, or could be seen to affect your impartiality in carrying out your role. Volunteers are expected to clear any potential or actual conflicts of interests before joining us. If we are unable to manage any such conflict of interest you might have, we may need to remove you from your volunteer role.
Data protection – GDPR
We hold and process data on you for a number of purposes connected with your role as a volunteer In taking up your appointment you consent to the Association retaining your personal data during your membership and also beyond to facilitate any present or potential future involvement with Scouting.
The security of your personal data is important to us and we make every effort to ensure that any data held about you is accurate, relevant and not misused.
The Scout Association’s Privacy and Data Protection Policy
The Scout Association takes the protection of privacy and personal data very seriously. All adults operating within Scouting, whether at National UKHQ or within local Scout units (i.e. Scout Groups, Districts, Counties, Areas, Regions (Scotland) or Countries), must comply with data protection law which includes the EU General Data Protection Regulation “GDPR”.
(The Scout Association’s Data Protection Policy provides key definitions and details of how it protects personal information. A copy, which also provides guidance to staff, members and volunteers about how to deal with the personal information they handle, can be found here)
Your responsibilities within the Privacy and Data Protection Policy
The Scout Association at national UKHQ level and each local Scout unit (as defined above) operate as separate, independent charities in their own right. Each collects and handles personal data and is responsible, as a separate data controller, for such data it collects and uses.
As a larger organisation, The Scout Association is registered with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) as a data controller. However, data protection law applies to all data controllers (whether registered with the ICO or not) and therefore applies to each local Scout unit.
All adults in scouting have a responsibility to comply with data protection law when handling or dealing with any personal data. However, ultimate responsibility for ensuring that adequate data protection systems are in place, lies with the relevant Executive Committee (as the charity trustees) and they are responsible for ensuring that adequate data protection systems are in place for their respective local Scout units.
Whilst the charity trustees and Executive Committees are responsible for ensuring that these systems are in place, each adult operating within scouting whether as staff, members or volunteers is also responsible for ensuring that they handle all personal data in compliance with those procedures and the law.
The Grafton Privacy and Data Protection Policy
This policy sets out Grafton Scout’s commitment to data protection, and the rights and obligations of Adult Leaders, Young People, the District Scout Council and others involved with Grafton in relation to personal data and its compliance with the General Data Protection Regulations 2018 (GDPR).
Training to support you
To support you with your data protection responsibility, The Scout Association has produced a short GDPR e-learning module.
We’re moving into an increasingly digital world. The Scouts have collated a whole host of skills which may be useful in your voluntary role . We suggest starting with the basics to make sure that you’ve got them nailed and then start exploring the other pages.
Disclosures & Vetting
Disclosure and Barring Service – Criminal Records Check
Adults who are volunteering some of their time to Scouting on an ‘occasional basis’ in ‘regulated activity’, (defined by the UK Government as ‘on 4 or more days in a 30-day period, or overnight’), or may have unsupervised access to young people, or will be involved with the handling or management of money, but are not adult members of the Association are required to complete an enhanced DBS record check through The Scout Association.
The Scout Association does not accept DBS criminal record checks from other organisations. This is because the nature of the information that may be disclosed on a Scout DBS criminal record check may differ from that provided to another organisation.
Our checks are an important part of the process in order to safeguard our young people, as well as giving assurance to parents and the general public. New volunteers (members or non-members), must not attend any organised residential events until their DBS disclosure has been successful.
It is important that your DBS check is completed in a timely manner and within 14 days of commencing your role. A failure to do so will result in your temporary suspension from Scouting until it has been completed.
We seek to be open and accessible to all. A criminal conviction will not necessarily prevent an individual from volunteering. This will however, depend on the nature of the position and the circumstances and background of the offences.
The Vetting Policy
It is the policy of The Scout Association to check all adult volunteers to ensure that only adults appropriate for a role are permitted to undertake responsibilities in Scouting and that regular reviews are undertaken to ensure their continued suitability.
Accordingly The Scout Association is committed to:
- following a defined process for appointing adult volunteers that establishes the applicant’s suitability, taking into account the fundamentals of Scouting discussed elsewhere on this page;
- refusing offers from applicants that are found to be unsuitable;
- putting in place robust vetting arrangements and ensuring that these arrangements are made clear to applicants and to the public;
- taking into account relevant information from The Scout Association’s records, police forces, relevant statutory authorities, personal references and other credible sources.
As part of the vetting arrangements, The Scout Association will undertake a Personal Enquiry which involves a check made against records at Headquarters for all adult volunteers and, for certain roles, a Criminal Record Disclosure Check. For foreign nationals or British Overseas Territory citizens operating abroad in British Scouting Overseas and Overseas Branches, checks must be made according to arrangements authorised by the Head of Safeguarding at Headquarters.
All our Leaders, Active Support Members and Executive Officers are covered by a range of comprehensive insurance policies while taking part in Scouting, these are:
- Public Liability
- Personal Accident and Medical Expenses
- Trustee Indemnity
Further details on the cover these policies provide can be found at https://www.unityinsuranceservices.co.uk/scout-insurance.
In addition to setting the minimum ratios of Leaders to Young people (see the section labelled ‘Ratios’ on this page), the Scout Association sets standards for the operation of meetings:
- There should be a high quality balanced Programme.
- Opportunities for youth members to take part in the decision making process.
- Any forum or committee should have both Young People and Leaders working together.
- Every Beaver/Cub/Scout/Explorer should have the chance to attend at least one nights away experience every year.
The District Commissioner, with the District Team, is required where necessary to assist Sections to reach these minimum standards and we encourage you to reach out if you need any help or have concerns about meeting these standards. There are lots of solutions such as partnering with a neighbouring section/group or taking part in a district event or camp that may resolve the difficulty.
If a section fails to reach the minimum standard for 2 consecutive years, the District Commissioner, with the approval of the District Executive Committee, may close it. POR dictates that if it fails to reach the minimum standard for 3 years, it must be closed.
Our commitment to diversity
We are firmly committed to diversity in all areas of our work. We believe that we have much to learn and gain from diverse cultures and perspectives, and that diversity will make our organisation more effective in meeting the needs of children, young people and adults.
We are committed to developing and maintaining an organisation in which differing ideas, abilities, backgrounds and needs are fostered and valued, and where those with diverse backgrounds and experiences are able to participate and contribute.
The Equal Opportunities Policy
The Scout Association is part of a worldwide educational youth movement. The values, which underpin and inspire its work, are embodied in the Scout Promise and Law and in the Purpose of the Association.
Within this framework, the Association is committed to equality of opportunity for all young people.
The Scout Association is committed to extending Scouting, its Purpose and Method to young people in all parts of society.
No young person should receive less favourable treatment on the basis of, nor suffer disadvantage by reason of:
- class or socioeconomic status;
- ethnic origin, nationality (or statelessness) or race;
- gender (including gender reassignment);
- marital or civil partnership status;
- sexual orientation;
- disability (including mental or physical ability);
- political belief;
- religion or belief (including the absence of belief).
All Members of the Movement should seek to practise equality, especially in promoting access to Scouting for all young people. We should make adjustments where possible to support all young people with disabilities to access Scouting – see the section on Reasonable Adjustments on this page.
The Scout Association opposes all forms of prejudice and discrimination, including racism, sexism, and homophobia. All Scout Groups, as independent charities, have a duty to comply with relevant equalities legislation.
Further information about equalities legislation and Scouting is available via the members area of the www.scouts.org.uk
Note: With reference to gender, membership of the youth Sections of the Association is open to boys and girls, and young women and young men of the appropriate ages subject to the rules set out in 3.6, 4.6 and 5.6 in POR.
Leaders and other volunteers
To carry out its work the Association seeks to appoint effective and appropriate Leaders, and to involve other volunteers in supporting roles, all of whom are required to accept fully the responsibilities of their commitment.
The overriding considerations in making all appointments in Scouting shall be the safety and security of young people, and their continued development in accordance with the Purpose and Values of the Association.
Accordingly, all those whom the Movement accepts as volunteers must be appropriate persons to undertake the duties of the particular position to which they have been appointed (including, if relevant, meeting the requirements of the Sponsoring Authority) and, where appropriate, the responsibilities of membership.
In making an appointment to a particular leadership or support position it may be appropriate to consider the gender and/or ethnicity of the potential appointee, in particular to ensure appropriate composition of leadership or supporting teams.
The physical and mental ability of a particular potential appointee to fulfil a particular role will always be a relevant factor to consider.
Within these constraints no person volunteering their services should suffer disadvantage by reason of any of the issues already listed above for young people. Nor should they be discriminated by age.
Note: Sexual feelings directed towards children and/or a sexual interest in children is a bar to any involvement in the Scout Movement.
We strongly believe that expenses and fees should not be a barrier to any adult’s participation in Scouting and, in principle, volunteers should not be out of pocket. Please refer to your group’s policy on personal expenses for more information.
- Do accept volunteer expenses. You can always give them back as a donation to your Group if you do not need reimbursing.
- Don’t ever accept money as payment from someone you have helped in the course of volunteering. Explain to them that they can make a donation to Scouting if they so wish.
|Section||Indoors||Outdoor activities held away from the usual meeting place||Nights away experiences (led by Nights Away Permit Holder)|
|Beavers||Minimum 2 adults present||1 adult to 6 Beavers plus the leader in charge||1 adult to 6 Beavers plus the leader in charge (Minimum 2 adults must be present overnight)|
|Cubs||Minimum 2 adults present||1 adult to 8 Cubs plus the leader in charge||1 adult to 8 Cubs plus the leader in charge (Minimum 2 adults must be present overnight)|
|Scouts||Minimum 2 adults present||1 adult to 12 Scouts||1 adult to 12 Scouts plus the leader in charge (Minimum 2 adults must be present overnight)|
For all Explorer Scout regular indoor meetings a minimum of two adults must be present and a minimum of two adults for all nights away activities.
For all meetings and activities, leaders should assess the risk and arrange for sufficient adults (aged 18 or over) to ensure a safe environment for the operation of the section. This risk assessment may mean that more adults are needed than the minimum ratios above indicate.
*It is possible for young people to hold a Nights Away Event Passport, which allows them to run a nights away event for their peers, without adults present, in which case the ratios will not apply.
For more information please see POR
Reasonable Adjustments and the Parent / Carer Framework
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.
Most people perform better if they have the opportunity to discuss how they are doing and where they are going from time to time.
A review in Scouting is simply an opportunity to look at what has happened since you started in your role, or since your last review, and to see what further support and guidance you might need. It should not be confused with the performance appraisals that many people have experienced at work. Reviews can be both formal and informal, depending on what stage you are at in the course of your appointment.
An informal review is held at least annually, to build on the chats you have during the year. It is a chance to take stock and plan for the future.
A formal review takes place with your volunteer line manager at the end of your agreed appointment period, although you can be called for a formal review at any time. During the meeting you will both get the opportunity to express your views. Your review will then go on to look at the successes you have had in your role, the progress you have made on your training (if appropriate), where you can best contribute to Scouting in the future and the role you would prefer in Scouting going forward. The kind of things you will discuss are:
- are you happy in your current role?
- what challenges have you faced in your role?
- do you wish to continue, or would your expertise be best used in another role,
- or should you retire from Scouting?
At the end of the review a decision can then be made about your future role, and any support that you will require.
Risk Assessments are essential for every activity whether that be doing crafts in the HQ or parascending at a local airfield. Despite what most people might think, risk assessments are a great enabler for participating in adventurous activities as they allow you to rationalise and explain how something that, at face value might sound quite risky or unsafe, is a perfectly acceptable activity. Of course they also force us to consider how we keep all adults and young people safe which should always be our number one priority.
However here’s a few guiding principles and tips
- Do share your risk assessment with everyone involved with running the activity.
- Do review an old risk assessment and see if it needs updating or adapted.
- Do show your risk assessments to your line manager or someone else for advice.
- Do ensure the risk assessment is shared with all young people and adults taking part.
- Don’t be afraid to change a risk assessment on the fly (a dynamic risk assessment) but make sure everyone is informed of what has changed and why.
- A risk assessment can be aural but it should still be written down and it filed securely ready for next time or in case something goes wrong. There is a facility in OSM to store and share risk assessments and we strongly recommend all leaders use this facility or the space provided for each group and section on Sharepoint/Teams .
- For nights away experiences and adventurous activities you will be asked to submit your risk assessment accompanied with the notification before the event takes place.
Running Safe Activities
- Activities – the A-Z of Scout Activities will guide you through the planning of running exciting and safe activities for your young people.
- Programme – get some practical ideas of how to bring safety into your programme.
- Camping and Practical Skills – find out more top tips for staying safe whilst doing practical skills and in a camping environment.
- Events – guidance for those planning, managing or responsible for approving events within Scouting to ensure that they are delivered in a safe way.
- Managing a premises – top tips for managing a Scout premises safely.
Emergencies and Reporting
Its important to know what to do in an emergency and what plans to have in place before an activity to ensure that you can respond efficiently should one arise.
InTouch is the system used to manage communications at all Scout activities and events. It is flexible to allow those organising events to implement a system best suited to their particular circumstances.
Whenever any activity, event or meeting is run within Scouting it is a requirement that an InTouch system is put in place (POR 9.3). This is to ensure:
- everyone involved is aware of how communication will take place between Leaders, participants, and those not on the event
- there are details of who is present should anything go wrong, and there is a system in place in the event of an emergency.
The procedures put in place to ensure this are likely to vary at different types of events due to the differing circumstances and needs. To facilitate this InTouch is a process that you must follow to ensure that everyone is clear as to what will be put in place for every Scouting event.
All adults in Scouting undertake training which includes content to help them deliver safe Scouting. The aim of the training is to enable adults to plan and run exciting, safe and developmental activities for the young people in their section.
Permits and adventurous activities
The adventurous activity permit scheme is an internal assessment scheme designed to ensure that all those leading adventurous activities for young people within Scouting have the skills, experience and personal suitability to do so. Full details are available on how the scheme works and support for you through the scheme, whether you are a leader applying for a permit, an assessor assessing an applicant, or a commissioner granting someone a permit.
Safeguarding young people
We have a clear code of behaviour called ‘Young people first’ also known as the yellow card. You should have a copy but if you don’t please ask your volunteer line manager. This applies to all adults working in Scouting, regardless of their role. It is also included in the training that you will receive and provides guidelines about how young people should be treated. We expect everyone to follow it.
The Law and Scouting – A duty of care
Under the terms of the Children Act 1989, Leaders have a duty of care towards the young people in their custody. This means that adults should adopt a common sense approach when dealing with injuries and illnesses. If you act reasonably when dealing with a problem, it is unlikely that you can be accused of unreasonable action after the event.
The Safeguarding policy
It is the Policy of The Scouts to safeguard the welfare of all children, young people and adults at risk by protecting them from neglect and from physical, sexual and emotional harm. The Scouts understand that individuals thrive in safe surroundings so we are committed to ensuring that Scouting is safe and enjoyable for everyone involved and that safeguarding practice reflects statutory responsibilities, government guidance and complies with best practice and The Charity Commission requirements.
- applies to all adults including the Board of Trustees, volunteers, paid staff, agency staff and anyone working on behalf of The Scouts;
- recognises that the welfare and interests of children, young people & adults at risk are paramount in all circumstances; and
- aims to ensure that all children, young people & adults at risk have a positive and enjoyable experience of Scouting in a safe and person-centred environment and are protected from abuse whilst participating in Scouting and otherwise.
It is the responsibility of all adults involved in Scouting to have read and understood the Safeguarding Policy & Procedures.
The Safeguarding Policy & Procedures must be adhered to at all times.
All breaches of the policy and procedures will be dealt with within in line with POR and the Safeguarding Processes and Procedures.
The Scouts Safeguarding Policy & Procedures, for Young People & Adults at Risk can be found on The Scouts website here
The Scouts sets out to deliver everyday adventure and develop skills for life in a growing movement of adult volunteers and young people aged 5-25, in the UK and internationally.
The Scouts recognises that life is not risk-free, and in its turn Scouting is not risk-free. As Scouts, we believe that our members benefit most from our activities when we manage these risks to wellbeing to be as low as is reasonably practicable. Identifying and proportionately managing risk is a skill for life that we wish to kindle, develop and enhance in all of our members.
All those involved in Scouting must, so far as is reasonably practicable and to the extent of their role, ability and understanding;
- Properly assess the risk of every activity undertaken in Scouting. This assessment should be suitable and sufficient for the activity being undertaken, and follows that activities with higher risk should require more in-depth assessment.
- Provide and receive clear instructions and information, and adequate training, to ensure members are competent to undertake their task
- Prevent accidents and cases of ill health by managing the health and safety risks in Scouting
- Maintain safe and healthy conditions, provide and maintain plant, equipment and machinery, and ensure safe storage/use of substances
- Review risk assessments as often as necessary when circumstances and conditions change.
- Never be afraid to change or stop an activity if risk increases.