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Thread: Written Risk Assessments to become compulsory - POR Pre-launch Check

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    I have seen leaders run a programme that wasn't working, all thought out and risk assessed, but for some reason it didn't click. The result is bored/ disinterested kids and those kids looking for an out from the programme, usually poor behaviour results as a consequence.

    The Leader needs to be able to quickly, and I mean quickly, come up with a plan B. Something they can fall back on. My fall back was - "Let's burn stuff!" - invariably worked from Beavers to Explorers. But I have seen leaders struggle to move away from a pre-panned programme no plan B, never mind a plan C.

    In the moment, discussion on the alternative has to be short and sharp, else control is at risk. Not a great time for democracy and discussion at all. I guess the key is to have fall back plans with a pre-written RA.

    That two hours a week starts to look like a real part time job for TSA leaders.
    The compromise we’re currently looking at is reducing down to monthly meetings, which would end up being more “activity days”. At least time available to prep a range of possible activities.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    I have seen leaders run a programme that wasn't working, all thought out and risk assessed, but for some reason it didn't click. The result is bored/ disinterested kids and those kids looking for an out from the programme, usually poor behaviour results as a consequence.

    The Leader needs to be able to quickly, and I mean quickly, come up with a plan B. Something they can fall back on. My fall back was - "Let's burn stuff!" - invariably worked from Beavers to Explorers. But I have seen leaders struggle to move away from a pre-panned programme no plan B, never mind a plan C.

    In the moment, discussion on the alternative has to be short and sharp, else control is at risk. Not a great time for democracy and discussion at all. I guess the key is to have fall back plans with a pre-written RA.

    That two hours a week starts to look like a real part time job for TSA leaders.
    There's not much worse than doggedly carrying on with Plan A when it clearly isn't working. I've seen plenty of leaders do it over the years - and the risk is probably far greater due to distracted, misbehaving children.

    Most of us have a few "backups" that work. One that I think i got from on here was a "Jelly Baby" evening - it was quick enough to send a leader to the village shop to buy a few bags of jelly babies - but could obviously only be used every couple of years. Another, like you say, was "burn stuff". If we were out in the woods / at the campsite and the main activity was a flop, finished early, etc then we tended to have a decent stock of low-equipment wide games up our sleeves. I guess all of those would be activities with an existing risk assessment in this brave new world, so it wouldnt be an issue to switch to them.

    This concept of writing up a dynamic risk assessment after the event irritates me, as it does absolutely nothing to improve safety - it is purely a backside covering exercise to write things up when they are no longer relevant. How many leaders are honestly going to think "i've just got home from scouts, we had to change the plan and did a backup activity that we'll probably never do again - now i'll sit down and write up my risk assessment for it"

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    To be honest. If we need to change plans, it's rarely going to be toward something we haven't done before, so it's not really an issue. (I'm kind of thinking if we have activity A planned but a helper cries off for whatever reason, activity A really requires the helper to be there. So we move to activity B. (Which is usually setting fire to something, cooking something, or chopping/whittling something). But we'd have a plan for that already.)

    The thing is, if that fellow thinks we have time in the middle of any meeting to have a leader team meeting to discuss risk, he hasn't got a clue. The leader team get exactly the same briefing the kids get. Lets face it, if the kids don't get it, you're leader team never will.

    The real problem there is, it does absolutely nothing to address the exact thing TSA say this policy is supposed to address - that being TSA HQ being distant from groups in terms of safety, and it (HQ) not knowing if safety policies are being adhered to.

    It really is a spectacular failure in planning and logic - a failure that not only puts the onus of doing RA's (and the time they take) on leaders, but also blame if something goes wrong (the guidance very passively aggressively points out that if you follow it, you'll be covered. Presumably if you don't (which you won't be if you do what Graeme Hamilton said), then you won't.)

    They are flailing with this and we at the coalface (along with our members) will be paying the price, eventually...

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    Looks like Mr H is planning on a move into Westminster, makes the same amount of sense.
    Although that position is already filled by the equally odious Mr Cummings...
    Well it's been fun...

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    Quote Originally Posted by BenOfThe12th View Post
    Looks like Mr H is planning on a move into Westminster, makes the same amount of sense.
    Although that position is already filled by the equally odious Mr Cummings...
    Got a link?

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    Senior Member BenOfThe12th's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    Got a link?
    Just going on the recent "quality" of guidance...
    Well it's been fun...

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    To be honest. If we need to change plans, it's rarely going to be toward something we haven't done before, so it's not really an issue. (I'm kind of thinking if we have activity A planned but a helper cries off for whatever reason, activity A really requires the helper to be there. So we move to activity B. (Which is usually setting fire to something, cooking something, or chopping/whittling something). But we'd have a plan for that already.)

    The thing is, if that fellow thinks we have time in the middle of any meeting to have a leader team meeting to discuss risk, he hasn't got a clue. The leader team get exactly the same briefing the kids get. Lets face it, if the kids don't get it, you're leader team never will.

    The real problem there is, it does absolutely nothing to address the exact thing TSA say this policy is supposed to address - that being TSA HQ being distant from groups in terms of safety, and it (HQ) not knowing if safety policies are being adhered to.

    It really is a spectacular failure in planning and logic - a failure that not only puts the onus of doing RA's (and the time they take) on leaders, but also blame if something goes wrong (the guidance very passively aggressively points out that if you follow it, you'll be covered. Presumably if you don't (which you won't be if you do what Graeme Hamilton said), then you won't.)

    They are flailing with this and we at the coalface (along with our members) will be paying the price, eventually...
    I wouldn't envisage it being a long detailed discussion but someone has to make a decision as to what is happening given its not what was planned and presumably quicky brief the rest of the team how it is going to be run as none of us are mind readers. We'd either do this before the meeting started if we knew in advance we were changing an activity or if it was done during the meeting then we'd maybe run a game or short activity whilst getting ourselves sorted or with Scouts and Explorers at least we might just tell them to take 5 and have a chat whilst we got ready for the next activity for Beavers and Cubs and drinks break would be an ideal oppertunity to get yourselves sorted.

    Frankly its definitely leading me down the line of documenting our RAs as we go along and building up a folder of written RAs that we can pull out and use as needed

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Previous Scouting Roles
    2003 - 2013 ABSL
    2017-2018 AGSL
    2002 - 2018 AESL

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    I wouldn't envisage it being a long detailed discussion but someone has to make a decision as to what is happening given its not what was planned and presumably quicky brief the rest of the team how it is going to be run as none of us are mind readers. We'd either do this before the meeting started if we knew in advance we were changing an activity or if it was done during the meeting then we'd maybe run a game or short activity whilst getting ourselves sorted or with Scouts and Explorers at least we might just tell them to take 5 and have a chat whilst we got ready for the next activity for Beavers and Cubs and drinks break would be an ideal oppertunity to get yourselves sorted.

    Frankly its definitely leading me down the line of documenting our RAs as we go along and building up a folder of written RAs that we can pull out and use as needed
    During a standard scout or explorer night, if we've changed plans, (happens fairly often) - I've never had to have a separate safety briefing with the leader team. These decisions are taken cooperatively. I might (usually) have the final say, but it's a collaborative thing - as it should be, listening to your team and all that stuff...

    I'm not sure why you'd have to have a briefing for your leader team and a briefing for the kids. If the leader/helper team can't understand the kids briefing, they shouldn't be leading/helping.

    We need to remember too, this is TSA trying to get us to document (via the medium of the risk assessment) every moment of a meeting/activity - including free time. It's just not practical to do. Dependent on the night (if it's a full moon, or the school served something with E numbers in it for lunch), we can usually take a minute to re-evaluate a program choice before the kids start taking the hall apart. But if the replacement activity needs time to plan, especially in the middle of a meeting - we don't do it. We're already trying to organise an alternate activity without having to organise an activity (or game) for the kids while we organise another activity.

    There has to be a dynamic element to planning, TSA seem to be trying to stamp that out on the basis of ****-covering.

    It speaks to the dynamic of the leader team more than anything else - and that's a training/team work thing. I think it's another example of the reality not matching the model HQ has in it's head.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    So on last nights GSL's webinare Greame Hamilton who is one of the Deputy UK Chief Commisioners, and has responsibility for this policy, stated explicitly, in response to a question on this, that if you have to change your plans unexpectedly then dynamically risk assessing alternative games or activities with your Leadership team so they all know the risks and control measures as needed for the new game/activity is ok so long as you then document the RA after the event.
    This is, at first glance, at odds with what’s been discussed here I.e. all activities must have a written RA and be “communicated” before the activity. As the September 2020 version of POR has just been published I decided to take a look.
    “9.4. Risk Assessment a) Leaders must carry out risk assessments before and during every activity.”

    Interestingly there is no mention of it being written. Following the links takes you to the new fact sheet and it only mentions documenting the RA, not necessarily in a written format. I’m beginning wonder if I’ve imagined all the bits about needing written RAs before the activity. I’m sure I had posted or seen links to scout pages which specifically mentioned this. My wife keeps saying I’m getting forgetful, I may need to start listening to her. (This is going to irk me now and when I have some spare time will search my posts here and on Facebook to find the links or quotes”.

    However the fun isn’t over yet.

    “ 9.1. Activity Rules – Application
    a. These Rules apply to all activities carried out anywhere in the world.

    b. The District Commissioner is responsible for approving all activities for Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts and Explorer Scouts. This will usually be by means of an informal system agreed between the District Commissioner and each Group Scout Leader or District Explorer Scout Commissioner.”

    and

    “9.2. Preparations
    Prior to every activity the Leader must ensure that:
    it has been approved by the relevant District/County Commissioner;”

    So, if you want to change activities you must have it already approved by the DC or their delegate. Such fun and games.

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    Yep and that is why rules 9.1 and 9.2 need removing from POR. They are a nonsense and all they do is give DC responsibility without any real ability to realistically check arrangments for all activities in their District.

    I would not even consider taking on the post of DC whilst that rule was in place
    Last edited by shiftypete; 16-09-2020 at 12:34 PM.

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Previous Scouting Roles
    2003 - 2013 ABSL
    2017-2018 AGSL
    2002 - 2018 AESL

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    I wouldn't envisage it being a long detailed discussion but someone has to make a decision as to what is happening given its not what was planned and presumably quicky brief the rest of the team how it is going to be run as none of us are mind readers. We'd either do this before the meeting started if we knew in advance we were changing an activity or if it was done during the meeting then we'd maybe run a game or short activity whilst getting ourselves sorted or with Scouts and Explorers at least we might just tell them to take 5 and have a chat whilst we got ready for the next activity for Beavers and Cubs and drinks break would be an ideal oppertunity to get yourselves sorted.

    Frankly its definitely leading me down the line of documenting our RAs as we go along and building up a folder of written RAs that we can pull out and use as needed
    From memory it usually worked along the lines of:

    Leader 1: This isn't going very well, any ideas what we could do instead?
    Leader 2: How about we burn stuff?
    Leader 1: Excellent - you go get the firelighting kit and some stuff to burn, i'll wrap this up. Ready in 5 minutes?
    Leader 3: I'll go put the kettle on

    I'm pretty sure we didn't discuss the safety of it... maybe because we just knew what we were doing (risk of being complacent?) We weren't stupid enough to give the kids petrol, burn MDF, or light fires next to the wooden shed.

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    Presumably if you have a fire circle at your HQ then "burning stuff" (perhaps not worded like that) is going to have its own pre-written RA anyway?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big George View Post
    This is, at first glance, at odds with what’s been discussed here I.e. all activities must have a written RA and be “communicated” before the activity. As the September 2020 version of POR has just been published I decided to take a look.
    “9.4. Risk Assessment a) Leaders must carry out risk assessments before and during every activity.”

    Interestingly there is no mention of it being written. Following the links takes you to the new fact sheet and it only mentions documenting the RA, not necessarily in a written format. I’m beginning wonder if I’ve imagined all the bits about needing written RAs before the activity. I’m sure I had posted or seen links to scout pages which specifically mentioned this. My wife keeps saying I’m getting forgetful, I may need to start listening to her. (This is going to irk me now and when I have some spare time will search my posts here and on Facebook to find the links or quotes”.

    However the fun isn’t over yet.

    “ 9.1. Activity Rules – Application
    a. These Rules apply to all activities carried out anywhere in the world.

    b. The District Commissioner is responsible for approving all activities for Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts and Explorer Scouts. This will usually be by means of an informal system agreed between the District Commissioner and each Group Scout Leader or District Explorer Scout Commissioner.”

    and

    “9.2. Preparations
    Prior to every activity the Leader must ensure that:
    it has been approved by the relevant District/County Commissioner;”

    So, if you want to change activities you must have it already approved by the DC or their delegate. Such fun and games.
    If we've gotten to the stage - after all this furore that we don't actually have to write RA's down, just document them - what does that even mean? Can we just write down - "We risk assessed [insert activity name here]."

    The DC permission chat is just depressing. DC's are rarely qualified to have that level of responsibility - even if they were, they couldn't possibly have the time.

    Seriously. Who'd be a DC?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big George View Post
    “ 9.1. Activity Rules – Application
    a. These Rules apply to all activities carried out anywhere in the world.

    b. The District Commissioner is responsible for approving all activities for Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts and Explorer Scouts. This will usually be by means of an informal system agreed between the District Commissioner and each Group Scout Leader or District Explorer Scout Commissioner.”

    and

    “9.2. Preparations
    Prior to every activity the Leader must ensure that:
    it has been approved by the relevant District/County Commissioner;”

    So, if you want to change activities you must have it already approved by the DC or their delegate. Such fun and games.
    What if the DC decides, as part of their informal system for 9.1 and 9.2, that the GSL is responsible for approving all activities for Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts and Explorer Scouts?
    So, if you want to change activities, you only need to inform the GSL because they are the delegate for the DC and it's up to them to approve (or nod as the case may be).
    That doesn't seem like quite the hardship.

    Neil

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    Quote Originally Posted by bellshillscouts View Post
    What if the DC decides, as part of their informal system for 9.1 and 9.2, that the GSL is responsible for approving all activities for Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts and Explorer Scouts?
    So, if you want to change activities, you only need to inform the GSL because they are the delegate for the DC and it's up to them to approve (or nod as the case may be).
    That doesn't seem like quite the hardship.

    Neil
    Might still not be practical though...

    Its 10 minutes into Cubs and the PCSO who was going to visit has had to cancel at the last minute. You come up with a change of plan. However, the GSL is unreachable because they're at work still... and the next level up, the DC, isn't answering the phone because they're in a county meeting.

    Do you:

    a) cancel the meeting and send all the kids home
    b) make a judgement call that the GSL would approve your plan of building a zipline across the local gorge
    c) run an activity that you know the GSL has previously approved, even though its not as fun as building a zipline across the gorge.

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