Chief Commissioner's Blog | Character matters and Project Compass
The past couple of weeks have seen significant progress in recognition of what Scouting offers and the launch of Project Compass – but what’s the connection?
The personal stories say it all
We have been present at all the main UK party conferences, engaging with a variety of stakeholders and influencers; last week I chaired our fringe exploring 'Character through the eyes of young people: The power of non-formal education in areas of deprivation' at the Conservative party conference.
The stars of the day were undoubtedly Ben, a Scout from the Isle of Dogs (2nd East London) and Florita Morante, his mother, who moved to the UK from the Philippines. They talked about how Scouting had made such a difference to their lives, in an area with few existing opportunities for young people. Florita summed it up in her final comment: 'I’m just lucky that Ben found Scouting. I only hope all other young people have the same chance.'
Florita was not alone in her view that the building of character could change lives. Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, said in her speech on the same day that 'every child – regardless of background – should learn the values to prepare them for life in modern Britain. For too long there has been a false choice between academic standards and activities that build character and resilience. But the two should go hand in hand.'
Tristram Hunt, the Labour Shadow Education Secretary, said much the same thing the previous week. The Scout Association will be at the Liberal Democrat conference next week to spread the same message.
This is why we’re so passionate about our aspiration to ensure Scouting4All; particularly that Scouting is present and sustainable in the most deprived areas of the country. Our ambitions to grow must help reduce social inequality in the UK, not contribute to it.
How to do it better
This week also saw the start of our phased roll out of Compass: a huge project that so many of you have contributed to for which I am hugely grateful; it’s incredibly important for the Movement. Compass launching is a significant milestone, however we know there have been a number of issues to resolve in this initial launch period which has caused some disruption for those members invited to register first. We thank you all for your patience in this period as issues are fixed and we prepare to go live again on Monday morning.
Over the past few months I’ve read and heard many wild and inaccurate comments and I’ve tired of saying 'please be patient.' One comment that frustrates me, however, is that some people distrust our motives. You shouldn’t; the area of proving our worth is just one way Compass will help. In addition to helping you with the day-to-day management of everyday adventure, which is of course an important reason for our investment in Compass, it will also give us the opportunity to prove the impact we have on young people’s lives and learn how to do it better.
This is why it’s important to you and us, that all youth data including badge work etc is captured. For the first time, we’ll be able to test how our young people have developed, showing the world just how transformative Scouting is and gathering the data that will help us to improve the programme even more.
That’s why we are so grateful for your effort and patience while data begins to populate Compass – because a database in and of itself is not the prize here. Getting even better at changing the lives of young people is.