Developing Scouts for young people under six

We’re exploring Scouts for four and five year olds to see if even more young people could gain skills for life.

We give almost half a million 6-24 year olds the skills they need for school, college, university, the job interview, the important speech, the tricky challenge and the big dream. Now, we want to explore starting earlier, to see if even more young person could gain the skills they need for life.

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In Skills for Life, our new plan shaped by members, we said we’d look into Scouts for young people under six. The benefits of supporting younger children in their development have been widely researched – you can find out more about the science by watching the video below:

With the above in mind, and funding from the Department for Education, we’ve now begun 20 pilots in England with groups from disadvantaged areas, providing spaces for 288 young people aged four and five, and their families.

Early years pilots

These pilots will allow us to test different models for four and five-year-olds to see what works best. We can also learn more about the impact and opportunities for local Scouts. Three models are currently being evaluated: the first is similar to the Squirrels programme, run by a separate organisation working under a Memorandum of Understanding with Scouts NI. The second is similar to the programme in Denmark and the USA (called ‘Lions’). The third explores Scouts in new locations, such as children’s centres.


We’re also testing ways of recruiting more volunteers from different backgrounds. In America, 75% of new parents from their early years programme went on to become volunteers, and 61% of members are families new to Scouts, so we’re hoping to see positive results here in the UK too.

Speaking about the pilot scheme, Tim Kidd, UK Chief Commissioner said: ‘At the Scouts, we prepare young people for the future by equipping them with skills they need to succeed. We believe that this early years pilot will help us create a programme that will continue to support the development of the UK’s young people through this key, formative stage of their life.’

Chief Scout, Bear Grylls said: ‘The pilot will help us find the right formula for this work and I truly believe that young people aged four and five will benefit hugely from the fun, adventure and skills we develop in Scouting.’