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Externally Led Activities

This guidance provides support for those using external providers to deliver activities to members of the Scouts, providing support with choosing a suitable provider, managing the activity safely and some FAQs.


Published October 2023, replacing February 2021

This guidance provides information for those using external providers to help deliver activities to members of the Scouts; providing support with choosing a suitable provider, managing the activity safely and some FAQs.

Choosing an external provider

You must choose a provider who meets the requirements for the activity as laid out by the Scouts; you can find this information in the Activity Finder, or for some activities in POR. The General Activity Guidance pages also provide additional information about many activities. Requirements include the suitability of different centres, and the instructor qualifications.

Check with other Scouts volunteers in your area or your District or County programme team to see if they have any recommendations. You will still need to check if a recommended provider meets the requirements.

The Adventurous Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) is an agency set up by the Government to inspect and license all those who provide certain commercial adventurous activities to under 18s (this is a UK scheme but not operational in Northern Ireland). Activities shown as requiring an AALA licence cannot legally be run by external providers except where this licence is held. Where a provider holds an AALA licence there is no need to check their qualifications as the licencing system has checked them to be a safe provider. AALA providers can be found or verified using the HSE search list.

AALA does not cover all outdoor activities and exemptions may apply to other voluntary bodies and education authorities. AALA also does not cover activities for those over 18. Where AALA is not required or available, members must ensure the minimum level of qualifications required are in place.

Finding providers outside the UK can be more complex or challenging than finding providers in the UK, further guidance has been provided in FS120085 Adventurous activities abroad. The Adventurous Activity Licensing Authority (AALA) doesn’t exist outside the UK, so checks need to be made that providers hold appropriate level qualifications instead. And National Governing Body qualifications are different in most countries, so need to be checked that they are of an equivalent standard to those required in the UK.

Making sure that the provider has sufficient insurance cover in place is a key step in selecting a provider. Providers should be willing or provide you with a copy of their insurance certificate, and many share these on their websites for you to easily have access to. If you have any questions about the insurance in place you can seek advice from Unity, the Scouts Insurance provider.

POR outlines the minimum requirement for insurance cover, for most activities this is a minimum of £5 million of public liability insurance whilst for some activities such as flying there are additional requirements. This amount is set using advice from Unity and industry norms, as an accessible level of cover for the types of activities members are undertaking.

Personal Insurance - Indemnity Clauses and Waivers

Before entering into any agreement that includes an indemnity clause, the agreement must be referred to Unity. An indemnity clause, is an agreement to reduce or remove the provider’s responsibility in the event of an accident to a participant, damage to personal property or other financial responsibility.

Some providers, for instance trampoline parks, may ask for a waiver to be signed for each participant. Waivers must be signed by parents/carers on behalf of their own young person, Leaders can only sign for their own participation. Any waiver should also be referred to Unity.


Managing the activity

When an external provider is used for an activity, the Leader in charge always retains overall responsibility to ensure the activity is well managed and run in line with Scouts POR requirements.

For example if using an external provider for a mountain biking session, as well as checking the provider meets the requirements outlined above for accreditations / qualifications and insurance the provider must also ensure that our rules relating to cycling are followed, this includes the wearing of helmet, environment, etc.

It’s not expected that the external provider reads the whole of POR but as the Leader in Charge is still responsible for making sure that the activity is run safely and in line with the Scouts rules, so they should identify relevant rules and pass this information onto the provider.


External instructors, must not have unsupervised access to young people. If a Leader thinks at any time that an activity is unsafe, they have the authority to stop, modify or cancel it. It is advisable that such situations are notified to the District Lead Volunteer and to HQ as a near miss.

External providers may determine the group sizes within their procedures, we would encourage a discussion prior to the activity to allow the Leader in Charge to understand this and be clear on where Scouts volunteers need to be in order to meet our supervision requirements. Ratios for activities listed in POR are relating to the delivery of the activity through the Scouts permit scheme and therefore this can be varied for external providers.


A Scout member can also be an external provider, indeed many activity instructors are Scout volunteers. However, there must be a clear divide between the two roles. To deliver an activity as an external provider, they must meet the requirements for the activity and the activity should be clearly run as an externally provided activity (including supervision, insurance, qualifications etc). As a Scout volunteer, they can only lead an activity within the Scout rules and Permit scheme.

No they are a Scout led provision. However, they may have systems in place to allow them to provide externally to non members.

Be clear about who is responsible for what. Have a separate Site risk assessment and External Provider activity risk assessment. Make sure all elements are considered; for instance if an External Provider is bringing the equipment this would be on their activity risk assessment, while if site equipment is to be used this will be on the site’s risk assessment.

Someone coming to speak with your section about a topic is not an external activity provider and therefore does not require insurance. If they are providing an activity such as circus skills or bringing animals to the section then this would be deemed an activity with risks and therefore the insurance must be in place. 

Rules relating to externally led activities

Rule 9.6 Use of External Centres and Instructors