FAQs on becoming a Leader
Do I get paid?
No!! The Scout Group, like all others, is run entirely by a team of volunteers. No payment is made to anyone for their time etc. Only the central administration of the Scout Organisation has staff who are paid.
What is my commitment?
Let's give you no illusions here! Often, potential leaders are told 'Oh it's only a couple of hours a week!'. That, for almost all volunteers in Scouts, is blatantly untrue!
True, the weekly meetings are 'only a couple of hours a week' but if you are a committed leader, you will spend a lot more time on Scouting than that! You will be involved with Leader Meetings, Programme Planning Meetings, training and personal development - which can involve attendance at courses which are normally at weekends, camping, visits and outings and generally supporting Group functions.
Exactly how much time you commit to Scouting will be down to you, your family circumstances and your job. Only you can decide that commitment level - but the more you involve yourself, the greater enjoyment and satisfaction you will get!
Do I have to wear a Uniform?
There are different types of 'Leader' within a Scout Group, so the answer really depends on what type of leader you wish to become.
Each 'Section' - for example Little Foresters Beavers, Jungle Pack Cubs etc - have a Leader in charge (the Section Leader, or SL) who must be uniformed. He or she is then supported by other leaders who are also in uniform and are Assistant Section Leaders (ASL's). With Beavers and Cubs in particular, the leaders traditionally choose names of characters from two books - Friends of the Forest for Beavers and Jungle Book for Cubs.
In addition to the uniformed leaders, there can be non-uniformed leaders who are formally 'appointed' and attend meetings each week, just like the uniformed leaders - These volunteers are known as Section Assistants.
Then there are Group 'Occasional Helpers' - these are normally parents or supporters who occasionally (typically once or twice a month) help out at Section meetings or events. There is no actual fixed commitment here - other than what you agree with your Section Leader.
What are the advantages of becoming 'uniformed'?
- As a Uniformed member, you are covered by Scout Insurance against personal accident, medical insurance and public liability whilst you are participating in a Scouts event or activity.
- You will receive recognition for your service, which will count towards long-service awards.
- You will also receive training in a wide range of skills to help you in your role. All training is free to you, and you can go on to include optional 'specialist training', such as becoming a qualified mini-bus driver or a climbing, kayaking, air-rifle or archery instructor. There are numerous Instructor courses for all ranges of sports and activities.
- Group policy dictates that 'preferential treatment' is given to children of Uniformed Members in joining the Group
What are the differences between a Uniformed leader and a Section Assistant?
Fundamentally, apart from the uniform, the amount of training (and recognition) is considerably less. You will still go through all the safety checks, and some mandatory 'basic training'.
- You will be covered for Personal Accident and Medical Expenses Insurance whilst on Scouting 'duties'.
- You will receive training to support you in your role
- You will receive recognition for your service, which will count towards long-service awards.
What precautions do the Scout Association take to ensure that I am suitable?
All Leaders - of whatever type - must be DBS Checked by the Scout Association. This is a simple process where we check your identity against documents you hold, and then your identity is checked against the Police national computers for Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands and Warnings and can also include intelligence held by the police about anything which may be regarded as 'unsuitable when caring for children'.
The process is free and is completely confidential. The Group Scout Leader only hears that the check has been completed and is, or is not, OK. No details are released. All things being equal, you will get a certificate to confirm that you have 'passed' an 'Enhanced Disclosure Barring Check' (DBS) which is valid for 5 years and then must be renewed. These checks are normally instigated 'on line' directly from the GSL's home computer and it is easiest for everyone if you can visit the GSL at his/her home to complete these checks.
So, what is the process for becoming a leader?
There is a formal process which starts by the Group Scout Leader entering your personal details (name, date of birth, address, phone etc) onto the COMPASS system - the national Scout Association database. You will then be allocated your desired role, and you will be introduced to your Section Leader (if you don't know them already!)
- You will be given a Membership number and access to your record on COMPASS so you can see what is recorded. COMPASS also holds your training record so, as you progress, you will be able to monitor your progress there.
- A DBS check will be started (this needs some co-operation from you providing documentary evidence).
You can then start attending your Section meetings, where you will begin to learn many skills and you will develop through 'on the job' training. The Section Leader will look after you and help you throughout.
If you have decided to become a Uniformed leader
- We will give you a grant to cover the cost of your uniform shirt/top. You will also get a Group Scarf, woggle and all the normal badges. Any other optional uniform costs must be met by you. Currently the uniform shirt can be obtained on-line using this link: https://shop.scouts.org.uk/uniforms/network. When you have purchased your shirt, just pass the payment receipt to the Group Treasurer.
- After a short while (normally 3-4 weeks) we will 'invest' you into the Worldwide Scout Movement in a short ceremony. For that, you will need to know the Scout Promise and Scout Law. The ceremony will normally take place at your section meeting.
- You will start to work on your 'Wood Beads' training, which is largely self-learning and takes between one to three years to complete, depending on how much time you have.
If you have decided to become a Section Assistant
- You do not need a uniform.
- You will be expected to attend all meetings and participate in Group events and activities as much as your time allows.
For Uniformed leaders and Section Assistants
During the first few months after joining
A Training Adviser will be allocated to you to help you with your training and development and they will complete a Personal Learning Plan with you.
You will then meet with the District Appointments Board. The Board meets on occasion throughout the year and you will have a short interview - normally about 15 mins one evening - to make sure that you understand your commitment to your Scouting role, and to check that you haven't been 'pushed' into something you don't want to do!
You will then need to go on a compulsory one-day training course which covers Safeguarding and an introduction to Scouting - covering the essential information and the fundamentals of the movement. This must be completed within 5 months of your appointment. Normally this will be on a Saturday or Sunday.
You will also have to go on a mandatory First Aid course - unless you have a qualification already which is acceptable to the Scout Association (VERY FEW ARE, because of the Scouts emphasis on young people! For example, A First Aid at Work certificate will often not be suitable).
You will be required to go through the on-line GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) training almost immediately. This is quite simple and will take about 30 minutes. You can do this at home, or wherever you have access to a PC/Laptop. At the end, there will be a certificate which to save and to send to the Local Training Manager, who will then add this training to your COMPASS record.
Where do I fit in within the Structure of the Scout Group?
We will keep this answer to the structure of Ash Green Scout Group because, whilst fundamentally all Scout Groups are the same, there are subtle differences between groups.
- The Group is led by the Group Scout Leader (currently Peter Lewis) who is ultimately responsible for everything and everyone within the Group.
- The Group (and all Groups) has a 'Uniformed' and 'Non-Uniformed' part.
- The Uniformed part consists of all Uniformed Leaders and Section Assistants, as well as Occasional Helpers, led by the Group Scout Leader (GSL).
- The Non-Uniformed part consists of the Group Executive Committee, led by the Group Chairperson (Louise Banks), together with various sub committees (i.e. Fud-raising etc). Parent Representatives also sit on the Group Executive Committee. The GSL (or his representative) and one representative form each Uniformed Section also sit on the Executive Committee.
As a Leader, do I have to attend things like camps etc?
We would hope that you will be able to attend camps etc but acknowledge that this will not always be possible for you. So, in short, the answer is 'NO'.
Any activity - and especially overnight activities such as camps - must have a correct 'Adult -Child' ratio. In other words, depending on the Section (Beavers, Cubs etc) there must be a minimum number of adults for a certain number of children or the camp/event cannot go ahead. Obviously, if you are willing to attend camps etc, then that helps with the 'Adult to child ratio'.
Any overnight activity (a sleep-over, for example) requires that at least one adult holds an appropriate 'permit' to allow that activity. The permit holder is often the 'leader in charge' of the event. You can gain a permit for different types of overnight camps (ie indoor, or on a Scout Campsite, or elsewhere) through your training if you wish.
Do I have to pay to go to Camp (and other activities)?
The short answer is 'NO' - the cost of your attendance is paid for by the Group. But, the Group will only fund to the extent that it is necessary for you to attend to obtain the correct 'Adult to Child' ratio.
Any additional leaders who choose to go (rather than 'need' to go to maintain the ratio) are expected to contribute towards the cost of the camp/activity. That decision is normally made between the available leaders and the 'leader in charge' of the event, but as with anything else relating to the Group, if necessary, the GSL (Group Scout Leader) can over-ride any decision made.
Do I have any other financial commitment to the Group as a leader?
Ash Green Scout Group is a self-funding charity organisation. As such, you normally would have no financial commitment to the Group other than for trips, events and camps as explained above. However, as a Uniformed Leader, or Section Assistant, you will automatically become a Trustee of the Group and this potentially could have shared financial implications for you in the (unlikely) event that the Group ceases to exist and owes money at that time.
The Trustees are jointly and severally liable for the debts of the Group if the Group ceases to exist. This is one of the main reasons why, as a leader, you need to be aware of the financial position of the Group by attending Executive Committee meetings where group finances are discussed.
The Group is financially very secure, with financial assets which are significantly greater than any financial liabilities and solvency is not, and never has been, an issue. Nevertheless, we take a prudent approach to financial matters and the Treasurer monitors our spending closely. You can request a copy of the last Group Annual Report which will give you a financial breakdown at the last AGM if you have any concerns on the financial position of the Group.
If I incur expenses on behalf of the Group, can I get my money back?
Generally, the answer is YES. The Group do not expect you to finance its activities!
Each Section (Beavers, Cubs etc) is given a Section Budget each term and this is held by the Section Leader. Most on-going expenses that you may incur for Section meetings are met from this budget. The Section Leader accounts for that budget by submitting a termly financial account, with receipts and invoices, to the Treasurer. A receipt for any out of pocket expenses you incur should be passed to your Section Leader who will normally reimburse you. Receipts are required for every expense.
You can also make a separate claim for larger expenses incurred using the Expense Claim Form. The planned expense needs to be agreed by the GSL before the item is purchased and the Claim Form with receipt/order confirmation needs to be submitted to the GSL for approval before re-imbursement can be made. All expenses MUST be accompanied by a receipt/invoice from the supplier. We can pay suppliers direct if you prefer.
We will not normally cover petrol, diesel or other fuel costs - unless agreed in advance by the GSL.
We will not routinely cover printing ink and paper costs but are willing to consider occasional reimbursement commensurate with the amount of use for Scouting purposes. Again, agree with GSL first!
If in doubt - check first, before committing yourself to an expense on behalf of the Group. Reimbursement or any authorised expense is normally made direct into your personal bank account (we will need your bank details for this purpose alone).
As a Leader, can I borrow any of the Group Equipment (i.e. tents etc)
All the Group equipment belongs wholly to Ash Green Scout Group. To borrow any equipment, you need the express permission of the Group Scout Leader, who will also consult with others over the potential borrowing.
If permission is granted, then we expect the equipment to be returned promptly in at least the same condition as when it was lent - and also a small donation to the Group may be requested for things like tents etc. Equipment would not be lent out if to do so would compromise any forthcoming camp or event being run by the Group.
How am I kept informed about things when I am a leader?
Firstly, through communication with your Section Leader. He or she should keep you abreast of what is happening in the Group.
Secondly, by attending termly Leader Meetings where matters are discussed
Thirdly, you will be a member of the 'closed' Facebook Group for Ash Green Scouts. A lot of general information is posted and commented on there.
You will also be given access to the 'closed' Ash Green Scout Leaders pages - where we talk about a lot of issues which concern us about the Group
If you are a Uniformed Leader, you will also get access to the 'closed' Ash Green Warranted Leaders pages - this is where we discuss important, confidential matters affecting the Group which cannot be discussed elsewhere because of the nature of the conversation content.
If I'm not sure about anything, or I have a serious concern, who do I speak to?
In the first instance, the best person is probably your 'line manager' - the Section Leader, or a colleague. If there are reasons why you feel you cannot speak with your Section Leader, speak directly to the GSL or the Assistant GSLs.
If the matter relates solely to your training, then speak with your Section Leader or your Training Adviser. We are also fortunate that the District Training Manager, Helen Richardson, is also one of our Leaders. She is the 'fount of all knowledge' relating to training, so feel free to contact her if you cannot get an answer elsewhere!
If the matter is of a personal or confidential nature, then you can speak to the Assistant Group Scout Leaders (there are two) in total confidence, or ultimately the Group Scout Leader (again in total confidence).
The Group Scout Leader is Peter Lewis. The Assistant Group Scout Leaders are Bruce Clarke and Mark Spurgeon - both also assist with Wilderness Scout Troop on Tuesday evenings.
Ultimately, if the matter is of a very serious nature, you can be referred to the District Commissioner, or beyond.