What’s happening with Scouts for 4 and 5 year olds?

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We’ve been talking about whether Scouts could be extended to 4 and 5 years old for a while now. It’s all part of our plan to support  even more young people to develop skills for life. 

Through an exciting pilot scheme, we’re gauging the impact Scouts has on the development of even younger young people. External funds have made the pilot possible, and now our first set of pilots have opened... And we have even more to go!

What are we testing?

Alongside looking at the benefits Scouts could have on this age group, we’re also testing different models, all based within local Scouts. This means the pilots are being approached in three different ways based upon local community needs.  These models are:

  • Scout-led 

A section before Beaver Scouts that’s run by both existing and new volunteers. This is the model most of us are familiar with. It involves meeting in the same venue and same time slot each week. We’ve seen some brilliant examples of recruiting volunteers through this pilot. (We’ll share these examples with you soon!)

  • Partner-led

A section run by individuals in an organisation who deliver a Scouts programme in their own setting. This could be a day nursery, an Action for Children centre, or a local community organisation, for example. 

  • Family Scouts

The key rule to this model is that an adult accompanies the young person and engages with the programme alongside the 4 and 5 year olds. Meeting venue and time slots may vary week to week. This type of Scouts has been seen in Denmark, Finland and the USA, amongst other places.

How are we testing whether these models work? 

Throughout the pilot an external evaluator will be gathering feedback from volunteers, families, young people, organisations and other people involved.

Untimately we want to explore whether we can:

  • Make an even bigger impact supporting young people, particularly in areas of deprivation
  • Increase the number of young people benefiting from Scouts 
  • Establish whether different models could lead to increased recruitment and retention of adult volunteers, whilst avoiding impact to existing provision. 

Next April an independent report will be produced to show what they’ve found.  The Scouts UK Board – made up of volunteers and staff – will then consider the report and other evidence to decide on the next steps. 

What programme is being delivered? 

We’re delivering a Scouts programme that is developmentally appropriate for the age range. This programme creates an active skills-focused and language-rich learning environment where children will have the opportunity to play and develop the skills they’ll need to move successfully onto to school and progress in life. 

The pilots are provided with 50 sets of one hour ‘programmes on a plate’ that result in a high quality programme. It’s been designed in line with our values but bears the age group in mind, so it’s different from existing programmes in other sections. 

What next?

We’ll be opening a total of 40 pilots across England and are seeking funding for pilots in Wales and Scotland. All pilots are in areas of deprivation. 

Evidence shows that early childhood is a period of exceptionally rapid brain development and the biggest stage of growth and development in children. Looking at the science behind Scouts for early years, we could make a massive impact on young people’s lives! By trialing Scouts for an early age range, we hope to positively change the lives of even more young people, in even more fundamental ways. 

 

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