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Policy, Organisation and Rules


The Founder of Scouting had a vision from which a Movement has grown, so that Scouting is found today in every corner of the land.

The purpose of Scouting is to actively engage and support young people in their personal development, empowering them to make a positive contribution to society.

These skills for life are developed through participation in a programme, underpinned by our method, and delivered principally in Squirrel Dreys,  Beaver Colonies, Cub Packs, Scout Troops, Explorer Units and Scout Networks. 

The programme in each of these Sections is delivered by a volunteer Section Leadership Team working in partnership with the young people in their Section. 

The function of all the other volunteers within our Movement is to support the delivery and quality of those programmes in each of our Sections.

With approximately 7,500 Scout Groups in the United Kingdom and its dependent territories, a support structure is clearly necessary.  The main purpose of Policy, Organisation and Rules is to explain as simply as possible how that structure is organised.

It is impossible to set out in detail rules to cover every eventuality, which means that much depends upon the judgement of responsible people at every level of the Movement.

It is important that everyone concerned strives to exercise that judgement in ways that encourage the development and growth of the Movement.

Policy, Organisation and Rules (POR) lays down the structure of The Scout Association in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Gibraltar. It defines information about training and management.

Each Rule is distinguished by a Rule number, which references the Chapter in which it is located. 

Matters of policy, information and advice on good practice are generally unnumbered.

Policies are authoritative statements of principle governing the work of the Scout Movement.

Rules provide directives, which must be followed by all to whom the Rule is addressed.

There are many opportunities for local decisions to be made under a wide range of headings. The devolution of authority to Counties, Districts and Groups is clearly indicated where appropriate.

It is important that the exercise of that authority is not frustrated by the imposition of local rules. It must also be noted that the law of the land is paramount.

Information provides a statement of fact, which does not require action on the part of the reader. For example, the chapter on the Association's Headquarters is provided for interest and understanding only.

It is recognised that some matters may be difficult to follow in certain circumstances.  For example, in some very rural areas and in some inner cities, where numbers of supporters may be small, it may not be possible to constitute Group Councils and Group Executive Committees exactly as the Rules require.

However, many years of experience have dictated what is good practice and what works well, and wherever advice is given it should be followed if at all possible.


The Programme - describes the diverse and exciting selection of activities and experiences provided in the Sections for young people. It is based around three main themes: outdoor and adventure, world and skills. In each section a range of badges and awards are there to support all aspects of Scouting, including the three main themes as well as, leadership, teamwork and personal development.  The programme should be delivered in a balanced way that incorporates elements from each theme. The programme is designed to be progressive through the sections to offer young people an appropriate level of challenge.

The Programme in Scouting has a fundamental dimension, which determines how it is carried out. This is the Scout Programme Method:

  • keeping the Promise and Scout Law
  • community action
  • having fun
  • meeting new people, making friends and developing relationships
  • spending time outdoors
  • games, physical and adventurous activities
  • design and creativity
  • visits and visitors
  • camps, sleepovers, international trips and other residential experiences
  • working in small teams
  • trying new things, and learning new skills
  • teambuilding and leadership activities
  • taking responsibility, giving ideas and opinions, making choices and decisions
  • spiritual reflection
  • finding out about themselves

A high quality balanced programme is one that:

  • Offers a balance of each of the challenge areas for the Section.
  • Includes opportunities to achieve badges and awards such as activity badges, challenge awards or staged activity badges.
  • Enables all young people to achieve Chief Scout’s Awards.
  • Provides opportunities for young people to influence the programme and provide feedback, and feedback is acted upon.
  • Provides opportunities to engage with young people outside of their Section, such as attending District and county events or taking part in activities with other Sections.
  • Provide opportunities to take part in activities away from the normal meeting place.
  • Provide opportunities to engage with the local community.
  • Offer opportunities to experience nights away.
  • Be planned in advance by the Section’s leadership team.
  • Be delivered using a wide variety of methods
  • Be delivered by adults or young people with the appropriate skills for the planned activities.

To measure the quality of a programme Quality Programme checker tools can be found on this page

Members of the Scout and Guide Movements - is taken to mean Members of an Association or Federation recognised by either the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) or the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

Section - the word “Section” is used to describe a single unit of Scouting delivering programme to young people, e.g., one Squirrel Drey, one Beaver Colony, one Cub Pack, one Scout Troop, one Explorer Unit, one Scout Network.

Where two or more Squirrel Dreys, Beaver Colonies, Cub Packs, or Scout Troops exist within the same scout Group then each is one Section.  Similarly, where two or more Explorer Units and/or Scout Networks exist within the same Scout District each is also one Section.

County - although in some parts of the British Isles Scout Counties are known as Areas or Islands - and in one case Bailiwick - for ease of reading POR simply refers to County/Counties.

Where relevant, when the word 'County' is used, it may be read as Area, Island or Bailiwick as appropriate.

Country Headquarters - refers to the headquarters of The Scottish Council of The Scout Association or the Northern Ireland Scout Council and to Headquarters at Gilwell Park in the case of England and Wales and the offshore islands.

Regional Commissioners - Any references to the post of Regional Commissioner refers to England or Wales only.  For Northern Ireland, all references to Regional Commissioner should be read as Chief Commissioner.

Scottish Variations - The affairs of the Association in Scotland have been delegated to the Scottish Council of the Association.  

In Scotland Scouting is organised into Districts and Regions, each with distinct responsibilities. Some ‘County’ functions are the responsibility of Scottish Regions, whilst others lie with Scottish Districts.

Unless otherwise stated, all references to ‘County’ or ‘Counties’ relate to ‘Region’ or ‘Regions’ in Scotland. Scottish Variations identifies which of these functions fall under the specific responsibility of Districts in Scotland.

The above organisational differences and differences in legislation mean that some of the Rules in POR do not apply in Scotland without modification.  These modifications are described in POR Scottish Variations and those variations are highlighted in this document by a SV

Headquarters - refers to the Headquarters of The Scout Association in the United Kingdom.

Regional Services Team – Regional Managers and Officers who are appointed by Headquarters and assigned to work in support of the development of Scouting in Counties and Districts in England.

Overseas Branches - refers to Branches of The Scout Association which are established in certain territories overseas.

British Scouting Overseas - are Scout Groups, which are registered by The Scout Association in a number of other countries.

POR: The Appointment Process – provides the rules for the appointing adults in Scouting.  The rules form part of Policy, Organisation and Rules and must be adhered to.

Leaders, Managers and Supporters - these groups of roles are defined in POR: The Appointment Process and have replaced any reference to those holding Warranted Appointments.