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Blog | 18 May 2020

A-Z of Scouts for 4 and 5 year olds


A is for Adventure, one of the key themes of the pilot programme

The pilot programme is closely aligned with the national Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum but it has different goals, and more of an emphasis on adventure, practical skills, outdoor skills, physical activity and community engagement, making it different from school.

B is for 64th Birmingham, the first pilot to open

64th Birmingham (Handsworth) was the first early years Pilot to open. This was on Wednesday 9 January 2019. It follows the Scout-led model, one of three models being trialled by the pilots, where it’s delivered in the traditional Scouts way.

C is for Consultation, we want to know what you think

We’ve consulted more than 1,400 members through webinars, events, surveys and phone calls to understand the opportunities and concerns about early years as a potential new provision. You can let us know your final comments before the board makes a decision.

D is for Department for Education, who’ve helped to fund the pilots

We secured funding from the Department for Education to deliver and evaluate 20 early years pilots in areas of multiple deprivation from 2019-2020 (21 were actually opened).

E is for Engaging external experts to evaluate the pilots

The initial 20 pilots were evaluated by the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) through focus groups, observations and interviews throughout the project. You can read their summary report here.

F is for Families new to Scouts

We’ve reached 422 young people and 161 adult volunteers with the pilots, all in disadvantaged communities, and 60% of the families involved have no previous connection to Scouts.

G is for Games that get the little ones going

‘Duck, duck, goose', 'What time is it Mr Wolf' and 'Sleeping Hedgehogs' are just some of the fun and exciting games that the 4 and 5 year olds have been enjoying.

H is for Hedgehogs, the name for the pilot section

This is purely a working title for the pilot. We’ve conducted research into potential names that’ll be considered if the provision goes ahead. You can take a look at the research into the name here.

I is for Interest from 750 members

At the start of the project we received 750 expressions of interest from members interested in their group supporting one of the initial 20 pilots. We keep hearing about more groups who want to try it out too, which is great, however, please don’t start Scouts for 4 and 5 year olds locally. Unofficial provision is against our rules and is not insured (NI Squirrels is not affected).

J is for July 2020, when the decision is decided

The Board of Trustees will make an evidence-based decision about whether a new early years provision is right for Scouts this summer. They’ll consider the CREC report, all additional ongoing research, as well as feedback from the movement when making their decision.

K is for Keas, a similar provision in New Zealand

Keas, Squirrels, Meerkats, Lions and Joey's are existing 4 and 5 year old Scout provisions that operate across the world. We’ve been learning from these models and have engaged with all of them to understand best practice.

L is for Life skills, that’ve developed in young people, parents and volunteers

CREC has found that through participation in the early years programme we’re making a positive impact on young people’s communication, language and life skills. The programme has also impacted positively on the adult volunteers and parents with key outcomes including the development of life skills and parenting skills.

M is for Mercers, who’ve helped to fund the pilots

The Mercers Company funded an additional 20 pilots across London to be opened by September 2021. Seven were opened before face-to-face Scouts was suspended due to COVID-19. This brings our total to 28 pilots across the two funders.

N is for Networking with Early Years professionals

We’ve networked and consulted with a number of professionals and organisations within the early years sector to make sure that the programme offered is age appropriate.

O is for Outdoors, where the young people learn

The programme is designed to be primarily outdoors with the flexibility to be carried out indoors if needed. There’s a focus on natural materials, supporting the young people to learn through the world around them.

P is for Partner-led, one of three models that’ve been trialled

The partner-led model is when a group is run through an early year’s partner such as a nursery, school or community setting. We visited a partner-led pilot at a school in the West Midlands to see how it was working – read the blog here.

We’ve also trialled a family-led model, where parents and carers will stay with their child for the duration of the meeting and the meeting is co-ordinated by a leader. Hear from a leader who’s been involved from the start to find out about it.

Q is for Quality programmes

Working with Action for Children, 52 weeks’ worth of programme materials were created and provided in an ‘off-the-shelf’ format for leaders to deliver the pilots. Check out our blog to find out more about the early years programme. 

R is for Rewards

At the end of each pilot meeting every young person was rewarded with a sticker for completing the meeting. This instant recognition is vital for 4 and 5 year olds.

S is for Special educational needs and inclusivity

According to CREC, the pilots have achieved mixed gender and are inclusive for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

T is for Testing of the roll-out

If the decision is made to go ahead with the provision, we’ll first test the roll-out process to assess the impact on line management. This will help to identify any potential strain on support elements and roles, and any measures that can be put in place to help.

U is for Unmet demand for this age group

A number of the pilots have a waiting list of recruits and have applied to expand their numbers, which indicates an unmet demand for this age group in Scouts.

V is for Volunteers, 35% are completely new to Scouts

The evaluation by CREC also revealed that a new pool of volunteers is being drawn in through the early years programme. Find out how one early years’ pilot recruited volunteers.

W is for Webinars, join one of our upcoming ones

Webinars are just one of the methods we’ve used to update and consult with our members. Join one of our upcoming webinars to hear about what we’ve learnt and have the chance to discuss what it means to you.

X is for Xyolophone, one of the instruments learnt about

Xylophones, rain shakers and drums are just some of the instruments the 4 and 5 year olds have learnt about in the 'Let's make the music' session.

Y is for Young Leaders, making an important contribution to the provision

Eight Explorer Scout Young Leaders have been involved with the pilot programme, and they’ve been a great addition to the volunteer teams. CREC acknowledged that Young Leaders present an untapped potential to make an important contribution.

Z is for Zoom, used to deliver virtual programmes

Due to COVID-19, face-to-face pilot activity has now been suspended. We’re working with volunteers to provide programme materials and support to continue to deliver a quality programme using online technology, like Zoom or similar.

To find out more about the early years pilots, take a look at our latest findings and join one of our upcoming webinars:

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