Scouts works well having Sections when there're sufficient young people within each Sectional age group. But, what about when there're too few young people?
Conventional Sections may be difficult to establish where:
- there're too few young people in a rural area to sustain separate Sections.
- a new Scout Group is starting up and there's uncertainty as to whether there'll be sufficient numbers for Sections to exist alone in the first instance.
- a new Scout Group is starting up and there's uncertainty among the adults volunteering over which role or age group they'd like to work with.
- a Scout Group wishes to start the a new Section that's currently missing from the Group, but there're only a few young people ready to move up or start.
- a Scout Group has declining numbers of young people and Sections need to combine.
- Scout Sections meet on the same evening, or is suffering from a lack of volunteers, and arranges overlapping meeting times.
Sometimes conventional Sections with small numbers are established where there are sufficient volunteers. In many more, no provision is made because the limited number of young people and/or adults is perceived as ‘not enough’ to open a Section.
Working outside of Scouts traditional Section-based structure enables us to better meet the needs of young people and the communities in which they live. It's good take a pragmatic view of the circumstances we find ourselves in.
This can be achieved with an Integrated Section. An Integrated Section's where young people from two or more Sectional age groups meet together, either on a temporary or permanent basis. It's designed to meet local needs and requires the local volunteers to possess a range of skills needed to handle a flexible way of working.
The District Commissioner may approve alternative arrangements for members to meet regularly in their own localities, while meeting less frequently as a Section. Detailed guidelines on the operation of Sections with small numbers are available from the Scouts Info Centre.
In special circumstances, such as when starting a new Scout Group or in a rural area, the District Commissioner may authorise a Scout Group to operate without distinct Sections, providing members take part in the Scout Programme appropriate to their Sectional age range. The authorisation should be reviewed every year.
Policy, Organisation and Rules
An integrated section may consist of one or more:
- Squirrel Scouts
- Beaver Scouts
- Cub Scouts
- Explorer Scouts
The integrated section works together as one section.
Please note: An integrated section that includes any of Squirrel Scouts, Beaver Scouts or Cub Scouts should not meet for more than two hours.
The District Commissioner must give prior approval for the establishment of an integrated section.
Members of integrated sections take part in a balanced Scout Programme, make the Promise and wear the uniform appropriate to their sectional age group.
The operation of integrated sections must follow integrated section guidelines.View POR 4.6.6
Leaders, Assistant Leaders and Section Assistants appointed to the Group don't need to hold Section specific appointments.
The Leader of an Integrated Section is responsible for the training of Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts and Scouts (as appropriate), subject to the general supervision of the Group Scout Leader.
They'll be supported with assistance from Assistant Leaders, Section Assistants and Skills Instructors, whose responsibilities are specified by the Leader.
Various practical considerations need to be made before embarking on such an arrangement. But, what of the benefits to such an approach?
The benefits are:
- increased retention and ease of movement between Sections.
- increased provision, more appropriate to local circumstances.
- volunteers have increased understanding of the Association's Programme for 6-14 year olds, with a real opportunity to put it into practice.
- young people are able to continue to work in their chosen interest and peer groups.
- a flexible way of recruiting adult volunteers, without the need to assign them to specific roles in the initial stages of forming a Scout Group.
- a more flexible volunteer leadership team, who are able to work with different age groups as local circumstances and the programme demand.
- Further advice and information on Integrated Sections is available from the Programme and Development Department at Gilwell Park.
- Case studies of successful projects are also available from the Programme and Development Department.
- Further advice on programme, adult support and Leader Training is available from the Programme and Development Department at Gilwell Park.