Blog | Planning your programme for the new year

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The new year brings with it a chance for change, so dust off your programme and try something new, says Beaver Leader and Scout Programme Officer Claire Bruce.

January is not only a time for reflection, it’s also a time to look forward – to think about the coming year’s programme and what you would like to see your section achieve. What could you focus on developing to make your 2018 programme the best yet?

Here are some ideas:

Review

The new year provides a brilliant opportunity to review your programme, finding out from your young people what they want more (and less) of in the future. Getting feedback from your young people is important and them seeing their ideas come to life will make it all the more rewarding. Run a session with your young people to find out what they enjoyed doing the most to help you plan for the future. The activity inspiration pack and YouShape postcards are useful resources that will help you run these feedback sessions.

You could also use the quality programme checkers to review how things have been going in the past 12 months. They’ll give you an indication of whether you’re missing anything that could help you to deliver a higher quality programme. Just making some small changes could have a big impact on your programme for the next year.

It’s also important to recognise the things that are going really well. While there is always room for improvement, it’s important as a leadership team to recognise what you have achieved and to celebrate it.

Forward plan and get organised

Allow yourself time to plan with your team. Remember to invite peer leaders, Young Leaders and any occasional helpers along to add extra value. Plan at least a term in detail, but consider putting together a rough outline of the year ahead. There are loads of resources on the members site that will help you plan your programme. And planning a term in advance will help you in busier periods later on in the year while also helping you see which badges and awards you have covered. Having a flexible plan will allow for you to develop the programme as you get young people’s ideas and feedback throughout the course of the year. 

Make use of the great programme planner that comes with Scouting magazine. You can plan out your whole term's programme and stick it on a wall in your meeting place so the whole team knows what's coming up each week. 

While you are planning, start to think about some of the resources you might need, this will help to avoid those mad dashes to the supermarket on the evening before a meeting! It’s a good idea to have clear time limits for planning meetings, so that everyone attending knows exactly how long the meeting will be and to ensure you don’t get too bogged down in the details or side-tracked. An agenda will help with this.

Once the team have finished writing the programme, challenge them to go away and to have another look at a couple of sessions each. Is there a way they could make these even better?

Delegate

It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to delegate. Taking everything on yourself doesn’t allow for a sustainable section. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help. Everyone has different skills, knowledge and experience. Get all your leadership team involved and make it clear what everyone’s responsibilities are. Your District may also have a programme supporter, such as an Assistant District Commissioner, who can help you.

Parents and carers are also a great place to go for support. If you don’t already have a parent rota, consider setting one up. A skills audit is really useful: knowing what skills parents have will enable you to work out which sessions they will add most value to. A parents meeting can help identify parents and carers who might be good occasional helpers or section assistants. Remember, people like to volunteer in places that feel fun and encouraging.

Our partners, such as Pets at Home and Tesco, and our A Million Hands partners also offer opportunities and support. Go to scouts.org.uk/partners for more information.

Build relationships

Spend time with the section leaders of other sections. Not only will this help smooth the transition up for the young people in your section, but you will likely find you are having similar challenges. You may be able to pool resources or run some Group or District events together to get cheaper rates. This also helps the young people in your section see that they are a part of something bigger.

Set expectations with your section

Use your next year’s programme to reset expectations with your section and to continue to embed the Values of Scouting. Remember to plan time into your programme for your young people to reflect on their Promise and the Values of Scouting. You could consider renewing the Promise as a whole section – invite your young people to suggest a place and choose a date that is meaningful by putting their ideas in a box or voting.

Have a vision and share it

It’s important to think about what you want to achieve in the next year. What do you want the young people in your section to say about Scouting? How would you like your leadership team to feel? Remember, being a volunteer is a wonderful experience; you are actively changing lives by giving fantastic opportunities to young people.

Using the new year as an opportunity to refresh and reinvigorate your programme and your approach will help you to feel more organised and in control, as well as enable you to deliver a programme that will provide your young people with memories and skills to last a lifetime.

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