You will have hopefully seen by now that the Scouting will soon be getting a new section with the introduction of Squirrels, focussed on early years ages 4 and 5.
The introduction of Squirrels follows on from the commitment in the Skills for Life Strategy released by UK Scouts in 2018 to research, pilot and evaluate the opportunities for early years provision. Since then, a number of pilots sections have been opened and the results of the evaluation published. Based on this evaluation and member consultation, the Trustee Board of The Scout Association took the decision in July 2020 to create early years Scouting for four and five-year olds with the first Squirrel Dreys expected to open in September 2021.
At this stage Squirrel provision is on an opt-in basis so there is no pressure or requirements for groups to offer this new section. However, if your group is interested in being an early adopter of Squirrels you should discuss this with your District Commissioner to agree how to move forward. Groups who do decide to adopt the Squirrels section will not be on their own:
- You’ll join 9 other Scout Groups in a cohort (10 Squirrel sections = 1 cohort) to be supported with final planning and preparation, and open a new provision that’s safe and delivers a high quality programme.
- We will be appointing a Squirrels Adviser to the Regional team to support Groups across South East Scotland who want to provide a Squirrels provision. If this is an opportunity that you would be interested in, please speak to Martin Elliot, Regional Commissioner.
As part of our own Regional Strategy, we want to provide Scouting to more young people in South East Scotland, and especially those who do not normally benefit from the Scouting experience. As we roll out Squirrels, we will be looking at how we can make this provision more accessible for those in SIMD 1-5 and to the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and Squirrels will be an important part of our Inclusion strategy.
More information is available on the Trail to Squirrels sections of the UK Scouts website and there is an opportunity for members to feedback on the proposed programme for the section at https://www.scouts.org.uk/volunteers/running-your-section/running-an-early-years-section/early-years-programme-proposal/