DfE funds Scouts to launch early years provision

By Neil Puffett

| 14 November 2018

The Scout Association is set to team up with children's charity Action for Children to provide early years provision for four- and five-year-olds as part of a pilot project that could be rolled out nationwide within two years.

The last time the Scouts extended its programme to a younger age range was the Beaver Scouts in 1986. Picture: The Scout Association

The initiative is being financed through the DfE's Early Years Disadvantage VCS Grants programme. It is one of a number of early years projects that government has today announced funding for, with a total of £18m to be provided to a range of early development initiatives.

The Scout Association said its early years provision will be designed to engage disadvantaged and harder to reach communities and will aim to help children "develop key life skills" and narrow opportunity gaps between disadvantaged young people and their peers.

"Specifically, the new programme will help young people improve their emotional resilience, communication and language skills, independence and readiness for school," the Scout Association said.

"The programme will also help young people develop skills such as self-control, problem-solving, ability to focus and their ability to positively interact with other children and give them the confidence to try new things.

"In addition to helping young people, the programme will also help their parents engage in activities that support their child's early development."

The last time the Scouts extended its programme to a younger age range was the Beaver Scouts in 1986, which allowed children aged six to eight to join for the first time. A name for the new section is yet to be decided.

Provision will be trialled in three different forms in 20 groups across disadvantaged areas of the UK, providing spaces for 288 young people and their families for at least a year. The sessions will be run by 52 adult volunteers and parents.


A decision on whether to launch provision nationally from 2020 will be based on evaluation findings. The youth organisation has previously signalled its intention to trial early years provision, as reported by CYP Now in May.

Matt Hyde, chief executive of the Scout Association, said: "Research has shown that high-quality early years programmes can make a significant positive impact on a young person's development.

"At the Scouts, our mission is to prepare young people for the future by equipping them with the skills they need to succeed. We believe that this early years trial will help create a programme that will support the development of young people across the UK during this key, formative stage of their life."

Other projects backed through the £18m funding announced today include:

  • £5m for trials to be led by the Education Endowment Foundation in partnership to research the best way to help parents in disadvantaged communities to start building their children's skills at home

  • £5m for organisations to investigate what works through bespoke local projects focused on best practice in early language

  • £1.8m for a programme with Public Health England, including new speech, language and communication training for health visitors, delivered by the Institute of Health Visitors
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