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Programme updates

Last week we shared some exciting information about the forthcoming updates to our programme.

These updates are due to be introduced early next year.

In response to questions about the reasons for change and how these are being communicated, here we explain why we’re updating the programme and what we hope to achieve with its successful implementation.

Our programme is of strategic importance

These latest updates come at an incredibly exciting time for The Scout Association.

There is more clarity and greater confidence than ever before about the direction of travel that Scouting is taking. Scouting for All, our 2014-2018 strategy, sets out what we want to achieve over the next few years. It provides encouragement and direction to all of us as we seek to build on the remarkable success we have enjoyed over recent years thanks to the work of so many dedicated volunteers.

The updates that are being made to the programme need to be seen in the context of what it is that we are seeking to achieve between now and 2018.

With the clear ambition to ensure that Scouting is enjoyed by many more young people than at present, we have taken steps to ensure that the programme will continue to respond to the needs of young people and the communities in which they live. We have done this by speaking with many young people inside and outside of Scouting.

The result is an updated programme that has a stronger focus on what we’re renowned for – outdoors and adventure, because we know that is what young people are seeking, as well as greater recognition for leadership and teamwork.

It’s necessary that we strive to ensure that our programme is increasingly attractive and relevant, not just for those who we want to join Scouting but those who we want to progress from section to section so that they achieve our top awards.

It is through successful implementation of the programme updates that we will make an important contribution towards the attainment of our wider strategic ambitions: to welcome more young people in to Scouting, from all backgrounds, where they will increasingly shape what happens in Scouting and in their communities.

All of this is being done because, as a Movement, it’s essential that we keep moving.

Our programme is what defines us

When discussing the programme let us remind ourselves that the programme isn’t just the activities that we know young people enjoy and value. It’s the totality of what young people do in Scouting (the activities), how it is done (the method) and the reason why it is done (the purpose). The programme is our core business. It’s what defines us. It’s what makes us who we are and proudly distinguishes us from other youth organisations.

Therefore, it’s perhaps not unsurprising that many people have views on what should be done to improve it. Indeed, many of those views have been of great value to us in helping to design the necessary updates to the programme.

Over the last few years, and the last twelve months in particular, information about the programme updates has been shared with volunteers via various channels including email, Scouting magazine and our website. When new badges were introduced in April 2014, it was highlighted that these were a precursor to the wider programme updates that would be announced towards the end of the year, which is what is happening now.

If all of the supporting materials were ready now, rest assured, we would release them now. The materials are still in the process of being produced, and they will be released in January 2015 as planned.

It’s great that so many people are keen to start implementing the updates as soon as possible. However, there is no rush as the material does not launch until January 2015. You are provided with a transition period until September 2015 to enable you to plan changes to your programme when you are ready.

There is no reason to make the switch immediately, and no expectation that you make changes to the programme that you have already planned for January.

Strengthening our current programme

The updates have not created a new programme. From the outset, the review that was initiated in 2010 was intended as a ‘refresh’ of the programme for the 6-18 age range.

For those who can recall the changes to age ranges and programme when they were introduced in 2002, a commitment was given then to review the programme more frequently than had been done in the past. This was seen as important in order to ensure that changes naturally tracked with the times rather than requiring a more fundamental overhaul. So, the review wanted to deliver an evolution rather than revolution and that is what it has done.

What consultation and engagement told us

Through the review we understood that whilst progressive personal development was encouraged in the programme it was difficult to make happen. The review looked at how to improve the connections between sections and the opportunities to build on personal progression.

We know that leaders and other volunteers in Scouting want us to help them make their roles easier. Due to this, we wanted the updates to help ensure that the programme would be increasingly straightforward to deliver. As we look to grow Scouting, and bring new leaders in, making the programme easier to deliver is important if we want new sections to get the best possible start in offering fun, challenge and adventure.

We have taken steps to ensure that the route to achieving the top award in each section is easier to understand and that the requirements are more robust. Similarly, we have taken the opportunity to tidy up many of the badge requirements where there was duplication.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given our success over the last few years, the review told us that young people expect to be preparing for and doing more outdoor activities, including in our youngest sections for Beavers and Cubs. The learning of key outdoor skills is still considered to be central to our programme and efforts have been made to enhance this through the updates.
Interestingly, some young people told us that they were being awarded badges but that it wasn’t always clear what they had done to achieve them. This was particularly true for Beavers and Cubs. As a result badge requirements have been made more specific, and the language made more accessible to young people.  For the older age ranges we learned that they are, on the whole, keener to get on and do activities and then afterwards acknowledge the skills they have learnt.

It’s still about learning by doing

Our programme is still, fundamentally, all about learning by doing. Scouts don’t learn from theory alone, but from practice and experience. It’s through activities that include adventure, participation in the service of our communities and caring for others, that Scouts develop the full range of skills needed to become leaders and active citizens.

With your continued support I and the rest of the Programme Team very much hope that these updates to our programme will go a considerable way to delivering on our ambition of Scouting for All.

The future of our programme is incredibly exciting and it will shortly be in our hands to deliver it.

Craig Turpie
UK Commissioner for Programme



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