Scout Network Link Agreements
A Link Agreement is a simple written agreement within the Scout District between all of the Explorer Scout provision (all of the Explorer Scout Units) and the District Scout Network with the primary purpose of ensuring a smooth transition of young people from Explorer Scouts to Scout Network at the age of 18.
The Link Agreement should include three main elements:
1. It should set out the formal links between Explorer Scouting and Scout Network in the District including key activities.
2. It should describe the liaison that should take place between the managers of the Sections (including, but not limited to the District Explorer Scout Commissioner and the District Scout Network Commissioner) to share information, set targets and ensure quality in the linking process.
3. It should include success factors, timescales and methods for review. A Link Agreement is not a formal legal agreement and should not be written in legal terms. Rather, it is a simple agreement between the two Sections setting out what each of them will do to promote successful linking and transition.
Every District (or the equivalent in the case of exceptions) will require a Link Agreement as both Explorer Scouting and Scout Network are delivered in the District. It's recommended that putting in place or reviewing the Link Agreement is an early objective when a new District Scout Network Commissioner is appointed. Link Agreements should not be put in place with individual Groups, Explorer Scout Units, Activity Centres or at County level.
Responsibility for ensuring that a Link Agreement is in place sits with both the District Explorer Scout Commissioner and the District Scout Network Commissioner and this should be explicit in their role descriptions.
However, the task of ensuring successful transition of young people lies with a wider range of people including Explorer Scout Leaders and adults within Groups where Explorer Scouts are Young Leaders. Young people from both sections will be able to make a great contribution when planning the activities required - from an Explorer Scout perspective of what they would like to see, and from experiences (good and bad) of Scout Network members.
Finally, before the agreement is formalised in written form, it would be appropriate to share it with the District Executive Committee so that they are better able to support both Sections in this important role. Support may come in in a practical way or may result in additional resources being allocated to ensure that linking takes place.
It's well understood that the processes and activities described here will form part of the normal plans for Explorer Scout and Scout Network teams. However, formalising this in a written document allows all of those involved to better understand their role; ensures that objectives are agreed which lead to linking activities being properly planned; and allows better review processes and celebration of successes.
The five easy steps to putting in place a Link Agreement
In this section you need to describe who the agreement is between. This should be straightforward - between the Explorer Scout Section and the District Scout Network.
It would be useful to include those with key responsibilities - which as noted above are likely to be the District Explorer Scout Commissioner and the District Scout Network Commissioner.
It would be sensible to restate, in your own words, the objective of the agreement.
In this section, you need to describe in some detail what you plan to do together to promote a smooth and successful transition from one section to the next.
There should be enough detail here to allow individual tasks to be delegated and progress to be checked - but not so much detail that the Link Agreement stifles creativity. It would be sensible to outline the frequency of events, their nature (e.g. Adventure, International, and Community) as well as who will take the lead.
There should also be some objective setting specific to your District - for example a particularly activity might target those heading off to university or college in the autumn.
This step is often overlooked as we set out to plan exciting activities that will encourage successful moving on. In this section of the agreement you need to set out how you are going to share information on a timely basis, set targets and put in place some quality checkers. It might be that the District Explorer Scout Commissioner and District Scout Network Commissioner agree to meet on a regular basis.
Again, enough detail is needed here (such as frequency of meetings) and how you will measure success over the short, medium and long term. This latter point links nicely to the next section.
This step is really important if you are going to move forwards. Ideally, as Scout Network becomes established in your District you will want to build on your successes and set yourself more and more stretching targets. Set out here some targets for ensuring more Explorer Scouts move smoothly into the District Scout Network, but also set some for them staying and playing an active role into the future. Also, think about your particular District and the local realities - be they geographical or a difficult to reach community. Agree timeframes and responsibilities for the review process.
Make sure that everyone has a copy of the agreement and that they know what they have to do. Take the agreement to the District Executive and certainly share it with your District Commissioner.