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Thread: Gaming the census

  1. #1
    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Gaming the census

    Got me email from HQ:

    A question is included on each section return relating to top awards. Each section, including the Scout Network, is asked to state the number of top awards achieved during the past 12 months to 31 January. Itís important to note that this is the total number achieved (whether or not the young people are still members of the section/Group or Scouts)

    Excellent! So the Network lad that used to be one of my explorers and got his QSA last year counts on my figures! I'm reading that right yes?

    And a common dodge has been specifically proscribed...

    Young people whoíve recently moved section should be included from the date of their first meeting in their new section (thereís no gap in membership whilst awaiting investiture to the new section).

    For example,

    A young person who was a Cub and is attending Scouts but hasnít yet been invested into the Scout Troop should be recorded on the Scout section census rather than the Cub Packís census.
    A young person who was a Scout and is attending Explorer Scouts but hasnít yet been formally invested into Explorers Scout Unit should be recorded in an Explorer Scout section on the census rather than the Scout Troop census.


    So that's why we got 5 new Explorers this week! Sly swines these scout leaders! [I'm joking, it's fine, time for them to move up, a bit galling if they don't like it and quit mid Feb but hey, same as it ever was, same as it ever was]
    Ian Wilkins
    Farnham District Explorer Scout Commissioner

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    My figures are going to look a bit sick this year - moved 5 Cubs on to Scouts at Christmas which takes me down to 11 which will look very low. However I know that I'm getting 4 Beavers at half term and another 8 at Easter - reason for those timings and groupings is trying to keep friendship groups together whilst staying within the age bands. So anyone visiting in early May will look at my by then 23 Cubs running around and wonder if I'd played the system. They'll all obviously be on the Beavers records so no loss but in isolation it may look fishy to anyone just looking at my section.
    Does anyone know what's going on?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mang21 View Post
    My figures are going to look a bit sick this year - moved 5 Cubs on to Scouts at Christmas which takes me down to 11 which will look very low. However I know that I'm getting 4 Beavers at half term and another 8 at Easter - reason for those timings and groupings is trying to keep friendship groups together whilst staying within the age bands. So anyone visiting in early May will look at my by then 23 Cubs running around and wonder if I'd played the system. They'll all obviously be on the Beavers records so no loss but in isolation it may look fishy to anyone just looking at my section.
    Hmmm, I'm more interested in the troop which had 48 on the census last year but our ADC Scouts discovered 59 Scouts on his visit the week after.

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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RisingStar View Post
    Hmmm, I'm more interested in the troop which had 48 on the census last year but our ADC Scouts discovered 59 Scouts on his visit the week after.
    Bugbear of mine was people doing that, but if they become DC what can you do?
    Ewan Scott

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    Quote Originally Posted by ianw View Post
    A young person who was a Scout and is attending Explorer Scouts but hasn’t yet been formally invested into Explorers Scout Unit should be recorded in an Explorer Scout section on the census rather than the Scout Troop census.
    The important word there is was, someone who has not completed their Moving On Award (which is an award of the section below) still is a Scout.

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    Quote Originally Posted by khoomei View Post
    The important word there is was, someone who has not completed their Moving On Award (which is an award of the section below) still is a Scout.
    On the grounds of not defrauding the movement, or accidentally missing individuals I think the meaning is extremely clear and should be followed. We have had some evidence of up to 10% undercounting, so anything which can address that without getting too stuck in the definition of what IS a scout is good IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by khoomei View Post
    The important word there is was, someone who has not completed their Moving On Award (which is an award of the section below) still is a Scout.
    I don’t think it’s compulsory to complete the moving on award before becoming an explorer scout.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big George View Post
    I donít think itís compulsory to complete the moving on award before becoming an explorer scout.
    It isn't, so that too is a "dodge".

    TBH I think they should use the term "fraud" for hiding people or massaging figures, as that's what it is.

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    Within groups it is unlikely to matter too much unless the sections operate completely separate bank accounts, as long as the kid is recorded SOMEWHERE.

    So Smiffy moving up from Cubs to Scouts must be recorded somewhere. Realistically it makes no difference to the group where he is recorded as long as he is recorded, as they'll still be paying capitation for him. This rule does quite nicely do away with the idea that membership lapses between leaving cubs and being invested into scouts to avcoid paying capitation.

    Explorers presents more of a challenge as an explorer moving up on 1st January will have been paying the group all year, but capitation will be coming from the district explorer pot. But conversely an explorer leaving on 31st December will have been paying into that pot all year without capitation being taken for that year. Equally assuming that explorer did all his joining / moving on the relevant birthday, he'll probably have joined Beavers in January, so the group will have already paid capitation in advance when he started.

    If everyone stuck around for their full time in Scouting, it would be relatively simple as they'd complete 12 full years (8 in group and 4 in district) of capitation and subs. The issue comes when people leave or join part way through.

    If only Compass (or another national membership database) had worked properly they could have implemented an automatic monthly capitation - much fairer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by campwarden View Post
    Within groups it is unlikely to matter too much unless the sections operate completely separate bank accounts, as long as the kid is recorded SOMEWHERE. .......
    Round here, only half the groups have a GSL (if someone comes forward in a leader poor rural group they will grab them for a section assistant rather than GSL). So those groups, and many of the groups with a GSL who doesn't keep a record of membership, rely on sections to complete and that's where section leaders seem to make assumptions which result in under counting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RisingStar View Post
    Round here, only half the groups have a GSL (if someone comes forward in a leader poor rural group they will grab them for a section assistant rather than GSL). So those groups, and many of the groups with a GSL who doesn't keep a record of membership, rely on sections to complete and that's where section leaders seem to make assumptions which result in under counting.

    1. Its 2020. There is no reason for the group's leaders not to communicate with each other even if there's no GSL. Or, assuming there is a group secretary, treasurer or chair, one of them could co-ordinate the task. With OSM it is not onerous.

    2. There's nothing stopping a new volunteer who has been recruited as GSL in a small rural group also helping with a section. If a group is already muddling along fine without a GSL, then the duties of a GSL shouldn't be too time consuming.

    3. If its really such a big problem then maybe district could provide some administrative support with the task?

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    Hmmm...

    What we've found is... Folks doing things in different ways. We have a spreadsheet with all the section info on it - the GSL looks after that. But, I use OSM. The differences then transfer on to subs collection (we have a person who looks after this centrally - who I think must have a positronic brain in order to keep up). They use the spreadsheet for subs, because Beavers never used OSM.

    Add into that, the waiting list is also on the spreadsheet. While the Cub section is full, Beavers is currently closed due to lack of leaders. At Scouts we cleared our waiting list, we just told them to come on down. We've also had a couple of walk in who we took on... Walk in's were missed, waiting list people weren't.

    So there are systemic issues that add into the mix. And since we're all volunteers, we kind of just have to deal with it. The GSL is comfy with his spreadsheet, I can't, and nor will I try, to tell him to move onto OSM.

    Got to say, while there have always been onerous activities for adult volunteers. The kind of stuff they're adding in, is putting existing volunteers off, we can only guess at the impact it's having on potential volunteers.


    * It's a tribute to the leader team we have in the Scout section just now. Our numbers are the highest they've ever been in the history of the group.

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    Quote Originally Posted by campwarden View Post
    1. Its 2020. There is no reason for the group's leaders not to communicate with each other even if there's no GSL. Or, assuming there is a group secretary, treasurer or chair, one of them could co-ordinate the task. With OSM it is not onerous.

    2. There's nothing stopping a new volunteer who has been recruited as GSL in a small rural group also helping with a section. If a group is already muddling along fine without a GSL, then the duties of a GSL shouldn't be too time consuming.

    3. If its really such a big problem then maybe district could provide some administrative support with the task?
    Really I think the underlying issue is that leaders are motivated to under report. So no they won’t push the boat out to talk to other sections to find out what’s happened to YP why move up, and I’m afraid I believe summer deliberately assume the worst case, which is the best case for their numbers.

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    Hmmm...

    I suspect there may be pockets of this, but that it's quite rare. There seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence to support it, but I'm not sure it's indicative of a bigger problem.

    Trying to think what drives the motivation... I assume it'll be financial. But management committees can already put in place savings on subs for parents who volunteer, (as unpopular as that might be). I can see a single section group being able to do it more easily, as soon as you get into groups with multiple sections, an element of collusion creeps in though, which is a barrier to doing it.

    Are we not also counting genuine mistakes as being dodgy?

    I wouldn't like to tar too many with the same brush, ummm, just because I might have witnessed the brush as some point... I mean, seeing it once or twice, isn't evidence of a wider problem. I will accept, in a district it might become common practice, but not in so many that it has become a crisis.

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    Is no one else in Scouting under enormous pressure to have the highest possible numbers, rather than the lowest?!

    The subject of every single training session, district team meeting, gsl forum I ever go to is always development and growth centre. If this is a numbers game higher up, or genuinely motivated to help reduce our enormous waiting list (evident at Group, District and National Level) I don't know.

    Under reporting would save me a few quid at group level yes but the grief I would get for not meeting growth targets would be enormous. God help me if I reported with a drop of youth membership.
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    Dan Sheehan
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    North London District Scouts

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