We provide fun, challenge and adventure to
over 400,000 girls and boys across the UK
a a a  A A
Disclosures Compass POL Print Centre

Satellite SEN Sections

Satellite Sections within SEN provisions
We believe that Scouting changes lives and we want every young person to have the opportunity to be involved. To ensure that Scouting is open to all, we need to remove barriers to participation.  This may involve thinking flexibly about setting up new, and developing existing provisions.

Scouting is inclusive, with Groups and Sections welcoming all young people. However, there are occasions where further flexibility is needed to meet the needs of some groups of young people.
Satellite Sections are an effective means of enabling young people with complex disabilities and additional needs, who may not otherwise be able to fully participate in Scouting to join the adventure.

Young people accessing schooling via Special Education Needs (SEN) schools are statistically more likely to be excluded from extra curricular activities than their non-disabled peers. The reasons for this can include financial challenges, lack of transport, physical access and the confidence of adults delivering the activities.

What are Satellite Sections?
Satellite Sections are new Sections which operate remotely from the main Scouting Group. This approach is effective as it uses the existing structure and infrastructure of the Group, such as the Executive Committee, and support for new adult volunteers is immediately available.

Scouting has used this model effectively to grow the numbers of disabled young people accessing Scouting via a partnership project with Scope. Satellite Sections (Beavers Colonies and Cub Packs) were set up in SEN schools, with a supportive satellite link to an existing local Group.

Satellite Sections operating within SEN schools can be beneficial as it takes Scouting to where young people already are and utilises the specialist equipment and knowledge available within the school.

The existing Group provides support to the satellite. Existing volunteers support new volunteers to start-up the Section and ensure a quality Programme is being delivered. As a satellite, the new Section interacts with the existing Group, bring the young people together whenever possible in joint activities.

Find out more about 10th Ispwich Rainbow Cubs experiences of starting up a satellite section in the Winter 2017 edition of Scouting magazine (p.26 +).

What are Buddy Groups?

Buddy Groups are existing Scout provisions already operating close the start-up. The Buddy Group support the new Section to get going and develop an on-going relationship of working together.

Satellite Sections are the preferred approach to ensure that young people accessing Scouting via a specialist provision are fully included within the District and have opportunities to build friendships with non-disabled young people via Scouting.

Buddy Group’s should not be assigned without consultation. Volunteers from the existing Group which take on the role of Buddy Group should be directly involved from the early stages of planning and have the capacity to support the new provision. The best existing Group to support the satellite Section may not always be the Group which is geographically closest.

Role and responsibilities of the Buddy Group

Existing adult volunteers have a role to play in recruiting and supporting new volunteers within the Satellite Section. In the early stages, this may include running sessions and supporting Programme planning.

For satellite Sections to succeed, existing Members need to be open to change; willing to adapt long standing practices and be receptive to new ideas.

The Buddy Group must be fully engaged and have the capacity to support the new Section. A Buddy Group should not be assigned the responsibility locally without the time and enthusiasm to play an active role.

The Buddy Group should also facilitate joint activities between the young people. It is important that the Sections ensure there are numerous, regular occasions for disabled and non-disabled young people to enjoy Scouting activities together and build friendships. These interactions build greater awareness and understanding of disability; contributing in the long-term to the creation of a society which is more accepting of disability.

There may appear to be some logistical challenges with joint activities, however with flexibility and advance planning these can be overcome.

Embedded in the District

Support and the involvement of the District leadership team is vital when creating new provisions. DC’s should be involved from the early stages of set-up. Ensuring the District team recognise the impact of the Section, and the value in bringing disabled and non-disabled young people together in Scouting is essential.

Having the District Team involved can be beneficial in facilitating accessible events; consideration of the needs of the young people within the new provision at the outset of planning will support the creation of activity days which are accessible and reduce the need for reasonable adjustments at a later stage.

Offering regular disability awareness training sessions for adult volunteers in the District helps to build awareness and confidence locally to support joint activities.

Satellite Sections should be registered within the Buddy Group on Compass.

Engaging the school 

Ensuring the provision of the senior leadership of the school is vital to ensure sustainability. For those new to Scouting, ensuring that all stakeholders understand and are enthusiastic about the impact of Scouting will be beneficial.

A discussion about the vetting and safeguarding systems present within Scouting can be useful whilst establishing the partnership.

An agreement should also be made between the District and the school about the payment of youth membership fees. Agreeing on membership fees in the early stages is advisable.

Further guidance on developing Scouting provisions within school settings is available via the Future Prepared project resources.

Establishing the need

Before creating a Satellite Section, it is important to reflect carefully on the need. Provisions within SEN schools should open Scouting up to a group of young people who may otherwise not be able to access their local Group.

Provisions set up within SEN schools will operate within POR Rule 3.14. This allows the Section to operate a policy of closed recruitment, so that only pupils of the school will be able to join the Section.


© Copyright The Scout Association 2019. All Rights Reserved.
Charity Numbers 306101 (England and Wales) and SC038437 (Scotland).
Registered address: The Scout Association, Gilwell Park, Chingford, London, England E4 7QW