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Thread: Re: Ratios Guidance

  1. #1
    a quiver full of barbs merryweather's Avatar
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    Re: Ratios Guidance

    Hi Wayne, with all the recent uproar about ratios and the (i presume unintended) consequences that making the rules mandatory would cause issues if they were interpreted to the strictest possible meaning.....
    (thanks for listening by the way and postponing the changes)
    postpone!!!??? i would hope they've been cancelled or if not that they will be 're-visited' and the need for them, and the evidence to support them, is there too and reviewed.

    Can I suggest that a factsheet is created. Not to reiterate the existing rules but to give some guidance and examples of how to apply the ratios to every day scouting....

    Eg.... I have 7 beavers, 14 cubs and 17 scouts plus 3 YLs on a day trip how many leaders do I need?
    (i would say 7 but other leaders have told me 8 or 9)

    What about if we are splitting into smaller groups, to go around? how does it work ....

    What about a leader leaving camp to go to the supermarket?
    i would be wary of calling for a factsheet to be produced.

    factsheets are a diverse and wide range of information, advice, and guidance instruments, some of which are helpful and others are more of a hindrance. the majority of factsheets are out of date or in need of urgent review.

    are they fit for purpose? no. i'm not sure that we know what their purpose is!

    however, i would agree that we do need something. clearly there is a lot of confusion around ratios/supervision and many local interpretations and applications.

    Hopefully this would clear up the confusion that currently exists and remove the ridiculous amounts of gold plating that some people insist on to ensure that they are covered no matter how strictly you interpret things that ends up with needing as many leaders as YP to do anything.
    confusion and gold-plating are two issues that are not helped by our rule book and supporting factsheets. actually more and more factsheets are becoming less and less supporting documents and in places are being used for applying fixed interpretations of rules.

    consistency, style, approach, language, &c, vary throughout POR and factsheets. we probably have too many people writing rules, hence the variations.

    it is difficult because many rules and policies can be written explicitly and are necessarily open to subsequent interpretation in their application. that's life! what we would hope for is a consistent approach to interpretation and application, where necessary.

    so let me go back to your example questions and suggest how i would approach providing a guiding answer, which i would hope would include an explanation of the process of interpretation of the rule/policy.

    Eg.... I have 7 beavers, 14 cubs and 17 scouts plus 3 YLs on a day trip how many leaders do I need?
    (i would say 7 but other leaders have told me 8 or 9)
    the correct answer is 7, or 8, or 9, or ......

    but surely there is only one correct answer? no! it's fundamentally important to recall that this rule (recommendation!) is based on risk assessment and any answer/application is going to depend on many things. the rule book can't give an answer to every situation! (not unless you want a 26,789 page book!)

    if we take everything independently: for 7 beavers the recommendation is 2 leaders + 1 leader i/c, i.e. 3 leaders (adults); for 14 cubs it's 2 leaders + leader i/c, i.e. 3 leaders; for scouts it's 2 leaders; for YLs/explorers it's not specified.

    so adding those up it comes to 8.

    depending on the nature of the trip someone may argue that a leader for the YLs might be advisable; hence one could come to 9 leaders/adults.

    equally someone may say that the trip is co-ordinated across all the sections so not one part is independent of the others; hence, now it could be reasonably argued that a leader i/c can be doubled-up across sections. so we might argue that only 1 leader i/c is needed for the entire party. we'd then have 2, 2, 2, and leader i/c = 7.

    but which one is correct? they are all correct!!! the whole thing is dependent on the risk assessment and the context, extent and nature of the activity. (and we haven't even considered the adults yet: leaders or parents, experienced or not?)

    What about if we are splitting into smaller groups, to go around? how does it work ....
    to me it would depend on whether there is 'cohesion' in the supervision/communication as well as the nature of the split, context and extent as above. it may be that you wouldn't need any more supervision if you were splitting to go round the local museum but you might if the split was over a bigger area, a large town, say, or for longer, for example. and again one would need to look at those leading each of the groups (in terms of experience, training and skills).

    small group activities can still be managed as one large group in certain circumstances; just because there is a split doesn't mean that the one group automatically becomes several smaller groups which act independently and thus need managing and supervising differently.

    What about a leader leaving camp to go to the supermarket?
    again it would depend on the circumstances and what was going on when they were absent. what would the risk assessment say? it is likely that risk may be increased in such circumstances, but does it reach a level which is unacceptable? in some circumstances it clearly doesn't.

    my approach here is to set the (recommended) supervision levels in the context of the activity, it's nature and extent, those taking part, and those managing/leading it, i.e. assess risk and apply the appropriate supervision.

    (i favour the status quo! but i also think the numbers need revisiting to bring them into line with those seen in the education sector.)

    one other reason why we get confusion - aside from the poor writing and explanation of the rule - is the fact that our training in this area of assessing risk and managing activities is weak. standards vary widely. our skills are weak in places with many relying on a one approach fits all - what the DC says, goes!

    we also get confusion and variation because some people seemingly can't communicate a simple message and/or can't be bothered to look up a rule/policy!

    if we look in POR we find:

    '3.8g The recommended minimum ratio for both outdoor activities held away from the usual meeting place and nights away experiences is 1 adult to 8 Cub Scouts plus the leader in charge.'

    however elsewhere on a scouts.org.uk web page we find:

    'The minimum ratio for outdoor activities and nights away events is 1 adult to 8 Cub Scouts plus the Leader in charge.'

    which is not quite the same!

    maybe a factsheet on the subject might help but i would want to know who was writing it first!

    TM
    going...going...still here...just

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    Senior Member dasy2k1's Avatar
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    I agree with all you say TM and I come to the same numbers by the same method...

    The issue I have is with certain people (both within my district and outside) who interpret things differently.
    Firstly the ratios are already mandatory in many areas thanks to the rule that says that the DC must approve everything.
    Irregardless of whether the DC says this or not it has been made very clear at district level that if you don't have the ratios you don't have the approval.

    Having more than the defined minimum is naturally a matter for your own judgement and the circumstances of the activity.

    The issue comes when at least one senior district member insists that the ratios must be applied to every sub groups unless the 2 groups are within sight and hearing of each other.

    Say for example I took 30 cubs to our local activity campsite (Blackwell) ....
    Minimum adults is 5 on 1:8+1.
    We would usually have more leaders anyway, say we have 7 and 3YLs.. Which I'm sure most people would consider to be a suitable number for this sort of camp with some cooking and others going around with the cubs on their activities...

    Blackwell have a max group size of 12 (excluding adults) on each session so say we decide to split up into 3 groups and rotate around 3 activities...
    Each group having 10 cubs 1YL and 2 Adults leaving 1 adult in camp sorting out dinner.
    Now given that we also have one Blackwell staff memeber as an instructor with each group you could say that we are more than covered from a risk assessment point of view and we could get away with 1 adult per group with a cook team of 3 and 1 floating between groups taking photos...
    We are still comfortably above the minimum of 5 adults......

    Not according to this particular person.
    We would need 3 adults with each group as they are not within sight of each other at all times requiring 9 leaders minimum before you consider dinner... If you add an extra 2 people as a cook team we now have 11 adults and 30 cubs or 1:3+1!!

    Also by this persons reasoning if 1 cub needed to go to the toilet mid activity (assuming the toilet block is out of sight) we would need to call the 2 adults away from their cooking to escort said cub to the toilet block or stop the activity while we take the entire group of 10 (with the 3 adults)
    (rather than just send the YL and possibly another cub along with them so they don't get lost as most sensible people would do)
    (this leader is also insistent that cubs must be supervised by an adult at all times)

    Unfortunately it's very hard to fight against such a mentally as I have found to my detriment and unless you can back yourself up with explicit written chapter and verse on the matter you don't stand a chance. (and even then on some matters you still don't stand a chance) I know I'm taking it to the extreme case here but I am merely repeating things I have been told (during a debrief session when I was denied a NAP because I let cubs go around a public area in groups of 4 without leaders (we were patrolling around with 1 leader always at a designated meeting place and had radios) ) I must do and taking them to the logical conclusion.

    Anything that can be used to remove hindrances to doing anything due to paranoia about safety is in my opinion welcome
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    Technically they are right about not sending a YL on their own. YLs are not supposed to be unsupervised with YP at any time (it's in the YL training material, though oddly not POR).

    The rest is nonsense, though.

    Personally, I'd send the Cub to the bog on his own with another Cub, it's not going to be far. Or with one adult and 2 YP if it is far.

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    This unfortunately is where trying to impose rules for everything doesn't work - most people simply don't have the capacity to be up to speed on all the rules all the time as they change. Going back a few years I was told that all the adults (including parents) accompanying kids on a day coach trip had to be DBS checked. Perfectly well meaning but wrong. Similarly on a training session on an entirely different topic a couple of months ago the trainer stated that Beavers can only camp one night - he was corrected by those present and as it wasn't part of what he was training on it wasn't an issue but it illustrates how difficult reliance on multitudes of rules is within an organisation which is in constant flux.

    Which brings us back to training people to understand risks, assess them accordingly and then make a sensible judgement based on those risks coupled with sufficient problem solving acumen that you can work out that if you can't have a single YP and adult together the better solution might be to send two kids to the toilet.
    Does anyone know what's going on?

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    Senior Member roger-uk's Avatar
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    Errrr OHhhhhh

    I send Cubs (in 4's) to activities unsupervised and we have roving leaders on Camps where its all laid on for us. Cubs know someone will always be at camp and its worked for me so far. Its all about allowing them freedom in a safe environment. They all wear Group neckers and we soon hear if their playing up

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by mang21 View Post
    This unfortunately is where trying to impose rules for everything doesn't work - most people simply don't have the capacity to be up to speed on all the rules all the time as they change. Going back a few years I was told that all the adults (including parents) accompanying kids on a day coach trip had to be DBS checked. Perfectly well meaning but wrong. Similarly on a training session on an entirely different topic a couple of months ago the trainer stated that Beavers can only camp one night - he was corrected by those present and as it wasn't part of what he was training on it wasn't an issue but it illustrates how difficult reliance on multitudes of rules is within an organisation which is in constant flux.

    Which brings us back to training people to understand risks, assess them accordingly and then make a sensible judgement based on those risks coupled with sufficient problem solving acumen that you can work out that if you can't have a single YP and adult together the better solution might be to send two kids to the toilet.
    More importantly rules should be:
    accessible and up to date
    Easily understood
    any local deviations agreed and filed at HQ and online
    Stop making DC's strictly accountable and put the responsibility wit the activity leader.
    Roger Woods
    Assistant Group Scout Leader,
    1st Sawley (All Saints) , Long Eaton

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    Sea Scout Leader richardnhunt's Avatar
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    What Roger said above is bang on the money. Add to it Mang21s point about being unable to legislate for every occurrence and you have got the issues.

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    I find it ironic that scouting at heart is about building independent adults who can cope through use of skills and *not* reliance on imposed rules. Then we have a huge rulebook....

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    POR really is excessively dated, both in concept and in implementation - a quasi legal 1970s document with a million amendments.

    While I wouldn't want the strictness of their approach, the Guiding Manual online is what it should look like.

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    I think we're quite lucky reading Dasy2k1's comment above - we just don't have anyone involved like that - If we did, scouts wouldn't last long in our district, or they wouldn't...

    Further to nevynxxx's post, apart from developing independent young people, what about assuming leaders have at least a modicum of common sense?

    All this is pure back covering by TSA, they're trying to cover every eventuality on paper even although it'll never work in real life. The main problem is, the more unworkable it all becomes the more tempted people will be to ignore it, that's not to say what they'll do will be unsafe, but if something does go wrong and POR was found to be completely impractical in the ensuing action, then all the effort at back-covering will be for naught anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    POR really is excessively dated, both in concept and in implementation - a quasi legal 1970s document with a million amendments.

    While I wouldn't want the strictness of their approach, the Guiding Manual online is what it should look like.
    Can you imagine the re-write though? In the current context, bearing Compass in mind?

    The mind boggles...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    Technically they are right about not sending a YL on their own. YLs are not supposed to be unsupervised with YP at any time (it's in the YL training material, though oddly not POR).

    The rest is nonsense, though.

    Personally, I'd send the Cub to the bog on his own with another Cub, it's not going to be far. Or with one adult and 2 YP if it is far.
    This

    Technically correct about not sending a YL on their own with the Cubs... although another of those rules which perhaps requires a bit more pragmatism rather than being followed to the letter?

    As for the rest - total nonsense

    At diggerland last week we let the cubs roam around in groups of 3, just like the Scouts. The beavers went round in groups with their leaders. It is a small site, and there were 6 adults known to the Cubs roaming the area (not including the beaver leaders who were of course also around) One of our new cub leaders was shocked at this and felt we should be walking around with the Cubs. I explained our logic:

    - There are diggerland staff at every single ride.
    - There is one entrance and exit manned by diggerland staff
    - The site is small enough that we could easily keep a rough track of where the YP were.

    At Legoland on the other hand we wouldnt let the Cubs go off at all unless in really clearly defined areas because of the size of the place (and the need to be accompanied by an adult on a lot of the rides)

    It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevynxxx View Post
    I find it ironic that scouting at heart is about building independent adults who can cope through use of skills and *not* reliance on imposed rules. Then we have a huge rulebook....
    ^ This in spades! With the amount of problem solving etc we do as part of the programme it really does strike a stark contrast.
    Does anyone know what's going on?

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    Surely the recommendation was the best option for the Scout Association (SA)? It is the leader's discretion as they are the best people to know how many extra leaders/parents/helpers are needed. A leader who has a Scout with Special Educational Needs knows that that child needs a extra pair of hands to look after that child.

    The SA is too big and unwieldy to put the rules in place, especially when it is a voluntary organisation!

    Rant over

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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    And yet, and yet, you do occasionally get cowboys. And they'll ignore the rules any way, and when you have to be the bad guy and tell them, quite often they take umbrage and quit. But if you don't have some rules, you don't have...I want to say "a stick to beat them with" but that's not quite what I mean.

    Ok, hypothetical example, DC pops out to campsite, finds a leader there that hasn't booked, and is on his own with 6 or 7 scouts. Yes, the scouts are fine, and enjoying the weekend, but is that safe? The leader thought it was ok, or didn't have time for all that officious nonsense, just wanted to get out their with the scouts, but...

    While in theory you could say "risk assess and go for it" as the only rule, who then ensures that things are one step from potential disaster? And how?

    Ian
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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianw View Post
    And yet, and yet, you do occasionally get cowboys. And they'll ignore the rules any way, and when you have to be the bad guy and tell them, quite often they take umbrage and quit. But if you don't have some rules, you don't have...I want to say "a stick to beat them with" but that's not quite what I mean.

    Ok, hypothetical example, DC pops out to campsite, finds a leader there that hasn't booked, and is on his own with 6 or 7 scouts. Yes, the scouts are fine, and enjoying the weekend, but is that safe? The leader thought it was ok, or didn't have time for all that officious nonsense, just wanted to get out their with the scouts, but...

    While in theory you could say "risk assess and go for it" as the only rule, who then ensures that things are one step from potential disaster? And how?

    Ian
    But Ian, the cavaliers will always do as they please regardless of the rules. You can make life as miserable as you like for the "good guys" the cavaliers will press on regardless.
    Ewan Scott

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    But Ian, the cavaliers will always do as they please regardless of the rules. You can make life as miserable as you like for the "good guys" the cavaliers will press on regardless.
    The old "13 Lessons" are probably as relevant now as they ever were.

    Archaic language, but they make this exact point:

    http://web.archive.org/web/200106170.../13lessons.htm

    - - - Updated - - -

    Haha, I only just noticed it talks of "following daft guidance".

    But there's nothing daft about it, and it if nothing else highlights how the rules haven't changed much...nor the ability of some people to obey them!

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