Using schools to recruit young people
As you might expect, your local school is a great place to recruit young people into your group whether you’re opening a brand new section or just want to fill a few vacancies in your current sections. You might want to use a school visit to invite young people to an open event you’re holding.
School assemblies can be daunting but are actually quite simple if you follow some simple steps. We’ve created a session plan and other resources to help you.
Before you engage with a school, you need to have a plan. Consider what you’re trying to achieve and what you’re offering – for instance, if you want to recruit more Beavers, you’ll only need to focus on the younger year groups.
There are lots of ways to utilise schools to promote your group, from sending activity packs, distributing flyers or invites, scheduling a face to face (or remote) assembly or attending school events. You need to decide what will be most effective for what you need but also what you’re able to deliver. Each school will have slightly different wants, restrictions and capacity, you may need to be flexible and adapt to suit them!
Don’t over stretch yourself, if one thing doesn’t work you can always try something else at a later date.
Your first port of call will be your existing members and their families. Where do they go to school? You could do a survey of your young people or look if this information is recorded on OSM.
Secondly, make some noise in the district. Some groups tend to draw exclusively from one area but be sure to make your recruitment inclusive and reflective of your local community.
You can also check google maps or sites such as Compare School Performance to find out what other schools are in your area – there may be some that you hadn’t considered. Are there local faith or SEN schools that you could approach? There may also be a local home educators' group that you could access via Facebook or another community page.
When getting in touch with your local schools and education providers, having a contact before sending an email can be a great way to ensure that it is received by the correct person. This will save time, avoid confusion and can be built upon over time to create a relationship with for the future.
- Ask other local groups/your district if they have any contacts at local schools or education providers (this will also help you find out if there are any schools to actively target)
- Create an ‘ask’ on social media looking for support with finding contacts for education providers and schools
- Search for contacts at schools (google, ask parents and guardians if they have local contacts) - think who would be best to contact? Go through to reception but request the Head Teacher/Head of Year or Business Manager. You could check school websites for specific names.
- Make contact with the schools ‘Friends Of’ groups or Governors (used to be the PTA); these may even be parents/guardians of young people you already have in your group
- Ask any local community groups you’re involved with for contacts (i.e. a Church if you’re based there or links from the nursery that also uses your space)
- Make contact with Home Education support networks for your local area – groups can be found online and via social media as well as asking your current families for support
- Don’t worry if you end up having more than 1 contact from an education provider, the more people who want to support your message the further it will go!
Remember your best advocates for Scouting are your young people; make sure they are aware of your hopes to contact their schools so they can help from the inside by talking to friends and teachers about the best parts of Scouting.
Once you have identified which school to approach and the best person to contact, get in touch! Remember this might be their first contact with Scouting so try not to lose them in jargon.
- Sending an email - often a good first introduction. Let them know who you are and what you want to offer. There is a draft letter that can be used on this page, just remember to include contact details. We want to establish a relationship with the school and build from there, this is just the starting point!
- Call them – this gives you an opportunity to help establish a relationship and to find the best way to communicate with them. A call may come after an initial email or as a result of finding the contact initially.
- When it's safe to do so, drop in and see them - but remember schools can be busy places. If you can pre-arrange a time to go and see someone at the school it is often more successful that just turning up.
You may find that schools don’t always answer immediately. Demonstrate that famous scout resilience and don’t give up! You may need to find a new contact at the school (Step 3) or possibly try another option such as calling after an email is sent.
Give yourself plenty of time for this process before you actually want to do any assembly or activity with the school – creating relationships take effort.
If the school seems unsure, make sure you give plenty of alternatives. Have a read through steps 5 and 6 on this page. A whole school assembly may not work but a classroom video that can be played at the end of the day with a letter home could work well. Be flexible.
Be prepared! Who is the best person in your team to do the assembly? You want someone who is confident and enthusiastic. Find out how long you have to talk to the young people or run the activities and what age group you’ll be talking to. Stay within the time allocated to you - if you run over time, the school will probably not want to invite you back. Also check what equipment is available (like a laptop to play a video) so you can bring equipment along if you need to.
You may feel more comfortable using a PowerPoint presentation to structure your assembly. We have created some templates below to help you with this. Remember these are just a guide and you can adapt them to suit you!
Don’t assume that the only option is to do an assembly in person, especially at the moment. You could send a video that can be played within a classroom or even talk to the children in a virtual assembly via an online platform such as Zoom.
Download our primary or secondary school assembly plans below.
Assemblies aren’t your only tool to engage with schools,
- Use the Brand Center to design your own leaflets and posters (maybe using pictures of your existing young people, if you have some) and ask schools if they can share them via their parent mail facility, their social media channels, or give them printed copies to hand out or put-on notice boards around the school
- Attend school fairs and fetes – having a stall with something for the young people to do for free is always a winner. Gather names of young people/adults interested in scouting and then follow these contacts up in a timely manner
- Look for the different themed weeks which schools often participate in i.e. Maths Week, Science Week – are they looking for some visitors to come and lead sessions on these themes, is there a scouting activity which would work in their theme? Be sure to plan in advance, as most schools will work these themes into their planning for the year well in advance
- Sending in activity packs for teachers to use to promote an activity for a particular reason can also work well – again, thinking of a themed week an activity pack of enough spaghetti and marshmallows for a class and the instructions for the Spaghetti Towers can work well during science week. When suggesting this, make sure the school is happy with the suggested activity. Balloon rockets also work well as an activity in a larger space – use the activity planner on the website to find other ideas to adapt to a classroom, hall or outdoor setting.
Think about how you’ll follow up! After engaging with schools, it’s important to follow up to get the most successful results. You might want to print out flyers as invitations to your open event and ask the school if they’ll hand these out at home time. Bundle the flyers into 30s so that the reception desk don’t have to count them out! If you can't take them in, why not send them the flyer in a PDF on an email; the school may have an electronic method of talking to parents such as a text message service, an app or an email service that they use. Ask if they can send brief details about your group or the flyer to parents using that service.
Ask for feedback from teachers; building a relationship with local schools will be useful for future recruitment.