Chief Commissioner's blog| A role for ‘OfScout’?

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Wayne explores the challenges of quality assurance within Scouting and looks at how we could develop a scheme to be of benefit to all.

Setting hares racing

The very mention that I met Tony Gallagher, HMI Youth Services, this week at Ofsted, sent one of my team into a mild panic, prompting suspicions of a possible ‘Ofscout’ and all that would entail locally.  This is probably the reaction of many of you as you read this, but pause before you reach for the keyboard and let’s explore this a bit further.

Getting the right help to the right places

If we are honest with each other, we know that there are a small number of Groups and sections we would ideally not refer prospective members to. There will be a number of issues behind that, but what if we had a more structured approach to benchmarking the local Scouting experience and identifying the support required by leaders in ensuring all young people have the same great experience. Hard to disagree with isn’t it?

Nothing new

We already have versions of this, the most obvious being the RN Recognition Scheme where, as part of the process of being ‘recognised’ by the RN, the 105 ‘approved’ Sea Scout Groups must meet certain criteria and attain them annually.  This is achieved through an annual return and biannual inspection from a RN Staff Officer.  

A similar scheme exists for Air Scouts through the RAF.  On a wider basis, we have been developing ‘RAGs’ over the past few years (the ‘RAG’ being reference to the traffic light system of marking a wide range of objectives within the process).  The latter is purely used to identify support required and to ensure its provision at each level.

The right environment is key

Clearly for any form of quality assurance to be effective for us, we must ensure that it is positive about supporting and not penalising, and is empowering and not demotivating.

I’d love to hear what you think and how we could achieve this.

The rest of the week

In addition to a very enjoyable lunch with the man from Ofsted, I spent half a day with Matt Hyde and Alan Craft discussing the usual wide variety of strategic, as well as mundane, issues.

I also met up with Hamish Stout, CC Berkshire, who has kindly agreed to share some of the County’s stardust by chairing a national working group looking at ‘Keys to Growth’ and in particular how we use our financial and staff resources to support local development most effectively.  

Look out for the open call for further information and a chance to help too.

Wayne Bulpitt, UK Chief Commissioner

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