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Assessment Guide


Published Jan 2015 replacing April 2010, last reviewed with no updated 2018


This page provides an overview for Nights Away Advisers (NAAs) assessing applicants for a nights away permit. It should be read in conjunction with Policy, Organisation and Rules (POR) of The Scout Association. Find out more information about the scheme for applicants and for Commissioners.

The Nights Away Permit Scheme

The Nights Away Permit Scheme promotes quality residential and camping experiences. It allows adults who have demonstrated their skill and knowledge to take young people away on nights away events. It also supports and encourages adults to acquire and improve the skills required to provide residential experiences.

The Nights Away Adviser’s Role In Assessment

The role of the Nights Away Adviser (NAA) is to carry out assessments of permit applicants’ technical skills and experience. Based on this, they pass a recommendation on to the responsible Commissioner of the Applicant and it's the responsible Commissioner who actually grants the permit, following other checks.

The Assessment

The assessment is not an opportunity to try and trick applicants. It's an assessment of their skills and experience. It should be based on the Nights Away Assessment Checklist and should contain no surprises for the applicant. It's not intended to be a pass or fail. If a particular item is something that the applicant usually doesn't use, such as a marquee or petrol stoves, then a general understanding of the issues around using one is sufficient. If necessary, a restriction can be utilised.

The three stages of an assessment:

1. During planning of the event

2. During the event itself

3. After the event at the evaluation session.

The Nights Away Adviser (NAA) should be working with the applicant throughout the planning of an event, as well as on the event itself, to provide support and advice as well as assessing competence. The aim is to ensure as many people as possible have the skills to be able to lead nights away events. NAAs should also be flexible in conducting assessments and recognise that camps and residential experiences can legitimately be run in a number of different ways.

Please remember that, even on nights away events where an assessment is taking place, there needs to be a permit holder on site responsible for the event.

The Assessment Checklist provides you with the syllabus to work to when assessing. There's room after each area for you to write thoughts on areas for development or record if the applicant's knowledge is sufficient

There are a number of methods at your disposal to assess the applicant’s competence level. Generally, you should use elements of each of these in each assessment and the levels of each depending on factors, such as the applicant, environment and so on.

Working with the applicant during the planning, implementation and evaluation stages of the event to assess their skills and competence.

Talking with the applicant, often through scenarios and examples, to find out how they would deal with them.

Looking at the breadth, circumstances and currency of the applicant’s experience in a leadership role on nights away events.

Any qualifications held, such as renewing a previous permit or a qualification from another organisation, such as Girlguiding.

The District Commissioner may also want you to assess the applicant’s knowledge of the Scout Association nights away rules and how these will affect them, and record this on the Assessment Checklist.

The Recommendation

After assessing an applicant, you'll need to come up with a recommendation for the level of permit to which you believe they'll be able to lead nights away events, based on their technical skills.

Restrictions allow permits to be tailored to the level of skill, experience and personal requirements of each applicant. They should be based on their competence levels as seen within the assessment. Whenever you do make a recommendation for a restrictive permit, you should be prepared to explain your reasons for this and what the applicant would need to improve to get a less restrictive permit.

You should record your recommended level of permit on the last page of the Assessment Checklist and give it to the applicant, so that they can take it to their responsible Commissioner or log this recommendation directly into Compass, where the commissioner will be notified.

Permits are not section specific and Districts and Counties / Areas must not operate a policy of issuing only section specific permits. It's recognised that for some individuals a restriction to this effect may be appropriate. However consideration must be made on how this will affect the use of Young Leaders or other young people on the residential experience.


All permits have an expiry date which is a maximum of 5 years from the issue date. After this the permit ceases to be valid. Renewal of a permit is conducted in the same way as initial application except the form of assessment is likely to differ.

The permit holder will need to complete an application form and pass it to their Nights Away Adviser (NAA). The NAA will consider the experience of the applicant and decide the most appropriate form of assessment.  

A practical assessment is unlikely to be required, but the NAA may wish to meet the applicant or may simply consider the experience listed and issue a recommendation to the commissioner on the strength of the known evidence.