Additional Needs & Equal Opportunities

Working with Young People with Additional Needs

Policy and Guidance for Young People, Parents and Carers

This Policy can also be downloaded here: PDF

1.      Introduction

This document sets out 1st Linslade Scout Group’s commitment to:

  • Uphold the Fundamental Values of Scouting.
  • Work closely with parents/carers of young people with additional needs
  • Ensure Leaders (who are volunteers) are fully supported in their role

A summary of the Scout Association’s policies relating to working with young people with Additional Needs is outlined below together with a description of how 1st Linslade Scout Group will put these policies into practice. Useful resources for parents/carers and section leaders are also signposted within this guidance.

Although this document provides general guidance and advice, each case will be assessed on its own merits.

2.      Additional Needs and Inclusion?

In its publication How to Talk about Inclusion  The Scout Association, defines:

Additional Needs as:

…the individual requirements of a child or young person with a sensory, communication, behavioural, physical or learning disability. This also includes long-term and life limiting conditions and medical conditions”

“Additional needs is an encompassing term used to refer to any individual situation which may require an adaptation. This is the preferred term to replace ‘special needs’ which is socially outdated terminology. ‘Special’ implies a requirement which is outside of what is ‘normal’, enforcing difference and the requirement of another person to meet the needs. ‘Additional’ places the focus on the need for further knowledge to support an individual’s needs. It reduces the focus on difference, whilst acknowledging the need for increased awareness and/ or understanding within a situation…”

“Special Educational Needs (SEN) is the term used in education to refer to young people who have a specific diagnosis which requires additional support or adjustments to allow learning within a formal education setting.”

Inclusion as:

“…. welcoming and fully including all people irrespective of age, gender or gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, medical or other need. It refers to processes aiming to remove the barriers and factors which lead to exclusion, isolation and lack of opportunity.

3.      Equal Opportunities

The Scout Association’s ‘Policy, Organisation and Rules’ (POR) outlines the Scout Association’s commitment to equal opportunities. The Equal Opportunities Policy (Rule 2.2, Chapter 2, POR) states

“…the Association is committed to equality of opportunity for all young people”

“No young person should receive less favourable treatment on the basis of, nor suffer disadvantage by reason of  

  • age
  • class or socio-economic status
  • ethnic origin, nationality (or statelessness) or race
  • gender (including gender re-assignment)
  • sexual orientation
  • marital or civil partnership status
  • disability (including mental or physical ability) 
  • pregnancy
  • political belief 
  • religion or belief (including the absence of belief)” 

 4.      Adopting the programme to accommodate Young People with Additional Needs (Reasonable Adjustments)

The word ‘programme’ in Scouting refers to the range of activities, challenges and experiences that young people can enjoy in Scouting. The programme of activities is planned by the leadership team in partnership with young people.

Reasonable Adjustments

Is defined in the POR as “actions to enable young people with disabilities to access Scouting and Scouting activities, as far as reasonably possible, to the same level as young people without disabilities. This should involve working in partnership with parents/carers to identify needs and support strategies.” (Chapter 2, POR )

It may be possible to make changes to the programme to accommodate the needs of a young person, including:

  • the physical environment (e.g. the meeting place)
  • the way things are done (e.g. age range flexibility, badge requirements, routines, and ceremonies)
  • the support provided to the individual (e.g. equipment, adapting communication, the level of support)

What is reasonable?

Guidance is provided in the publication Scouting for All/Reasonable Adjustments :

  1. “What is reasonable is dependent upon the effectiveness of the adjustment, whether it can be done; and the cost and resources available to the Group at that time.
  2. Examples of what may and may not be considered a Reasonable Adjustment:

“If a young person requires continual 1:1 support to fully participate in Scouting, and their parent/carer is able to attend to offer this level of support, it is reasonable that the Group supports this adjustment. However, if the parent/carer is not able to provide this and a professional carer is required as the 1:1, it would be unreasonable for the Group to be expected to finance this level of support on a weekly basis”

Another example is, where a young person who uses a wheelchair joins the Group, it is likely to be reasonable for the Group to provide a moveable ramp. It is likely to be unreasonable for the Group to provide an electronic lift due to cost, or to fit a permanent ramp if the Group do not own the meeting place.”

The capacity of the leadership team to provide Scouting safely is of utmost importance when determining whether an adjustment is reasonable.

 Due consideration will be given to the maximum number of young people with additional needs per section.

The GSL may refuse to admit a young person, or to allow the young person to continue with the Group, if the GSL has concerns that the safety or welfare of the young person, or others, (e.g. other young people, Leaders, adults or members of the public), could be at risk. In these circumstances, the matter may be referred to the District Commissioner.

Provision of 1-1 Support

“Scouting is delivered by adult volunteers and is not a statutory provision (such as the education system). Scouting does not have a statutory obligation to provide 1:1 support for a young person to access Scouting on a regular basis.

 If there is capacity within the Group to provide additional support this will be offered, however, where a 1:1 is required on a regular basis, it will be the responsibility of a parent/ carer to provide or source the required support.

The Group cannot and should not take on any financial responsibilities for the employment of a carer.”

5.      Role of parents / carers

Parents/carers of young people with additional needs will need to work closely with the Group Scout Leader and Leaders to understand the additional needs of the young person and the reasonable adjustments that may be possible.

Parents/carers should be aware that there may be situations where 1st Linslade Scout Group does not have the capacity or resources to meet the needs of a young person or to make the adjustments necessary. In such instances the Group Scout Leader will refer the parents/carers to the District or County Commissioner to discuss potential alternatives.

When this policy is enacted (see section 7), the GSL will discuss the situation with the parents/carers of the young person. If the parents/carers do not accept the need for a ‘Needs and Capability Assessment’, the GSL will refer the matter to the District Commissioner.

6.      Adapting the Programme

There are useful resources for section leaders around age range flexibility and adapting the programme (including badge and award requirements) on the Scout Association’s website.  In addition, The Bedfordshire County Training Team should be contacted for support / resources where available. Parents/carers can access additional advice and support from the Parents and Carers section of the Scout Association’s website.

7.      Putting this policy into practice

This Additional Needs (AN) policy may be triggered if:

a) There is a Notification of Additional Needs by a Parent / Carer either:

  • Via the initial Application Form when joining the Group
  • After the Young Person has joined the Group or

b) There is a Notification by a Leader or other Adult involved in the Group following concerns

A flowchart outlining this process is available in annex 1 of the downloadable PDF version of this document (see above).

The Process

1)      Agreement of Parents / Carers

When a parent / carer informs the Group that a young person has Additional Needs, this policy is enacted immediately.

 If a Leader, or other adult involved in the Group, has a concern they should first discuss this with the GSL. The GSL will then decide if the policy is enacted immediately or whether the situation is monitored for an agreed period.

2)      Agreement of Parents / Carers

The GSL will obtain the agreement of the parent / carer to proceed as outlined in this policy. Should agreement not be reached, the GSL will refer to the District Commissioner for further support.

3)        Needs and Capability Meeting

Assuming the parent / carer has given their agreement, the Leader and / or the GSL and / or a member of the Group Executive Committee with allocated responsibility for inclusion, will meet with the parent / carer for a Needs and Capability Assessment in accordance with the Scout Association’s Parent/Carer Conversation Framework.

Each case is different, but the conversation may include:

  • Medical needs
  • Emotional / behavioural needs (what are the triggers and how should this be managed)
  • Any assistance required (e.g. with personal hygiene)
  • Does the young person have a well-developed sense of danger e.g. would they run out in front of a car, put hand in fire or jump off a cliff?
  • What do parents want?
  • What might be an issue now / in an older section where there may be less closer supervision and more dangerous activities?

If a parent / carer does not agree to the meeting, the GSL will refer the matter to the District Commissioner.

4)        Needs and Capability Assessment (NCA)

The GSL will ensure that the NCA is documented.  This will describe:

  • the young person’s capabilities
  • associated risks in terms of Scouting activities (this should include risks to other young people, Leaders, adult helpers, and the public).
  • any mitigating actions / reasonable adjustments that are required for the young person to safely undertake Scouting.

The young person’s parent / carer should agree the NCA and receive a copy.

The GSL will ensure that the NCA is kept securely. Access to the NCA will be limited to those who need to know, typically the parents / carer, GSL and section leaders working with the young person. In exceptional circumstances, it may also be distributed to the District Commissioner.

5)        Trial Period

Assuming a place is offered to a young person, this will usually be for an initial trial period of three months or one term. If there are any risk-mitigating actions or reasonable adjustments specified in the NCA, these must be in place before the young person can join the section.

6)        Reviewing Progress

The NCA should specify when the initial review will take place (usually at the end of the trial period). If all parties are content with progress at each review meeting and all risk mitigation strategies are still in place, then the young person may continue to be a member of the Group. If any party, including the parents, have any concerns then further action may be taken, including:

  • Reviewing the NCA to identify any new risks, reasonable adjustments or risk mitigating actions;
  • Referring to the District Commissioner;
  • Withdrawal of the young person’s place in the Group.

At any time, any party can request a review meeting. If the parent / carer is unwilling to participate in the meeting the matter will be referred to the District Commissioner.

8.      Appeals & Complaints

The Scout Association encourages leaders and parents / carers to resolve disputes informally at a local level wherever possible. Where this is not possible, anyone can follow the steps outlined in the Complaints Process for making a formal complaint.

9.    Additional Resources

Below is a list of resources which have been used in compiling this guidance and which may provide additional information for parents/carers and section leaders.


Document History

This version approved 26/02/18

Review February every 2 years