The Scout Group is led by the Group Scout Leader supported by:
- Adults from each of the sections
- The Group Executive Committee.
The Group Executive Committee
The Group Executive Committee exists to support the Group Scout Leader in meeting the responsibilities of their appointment and to take responsibility for the administrative side of scouting to enable the Group to function effectively.
To fulfil this purpose, POR states the following eleven responsibilities of the Group Executive Committee:
- Comply with the Policy, Organisation and Rules of The Scout Association
- Protect and maintain any property and equipment owned by and/or used by the group
- Manage the group finances
- Provide insurance for people, property and equipment (outside of automatic insurances provided to members)
- Ensure that there is sufficient volunteers for scouting in the group to operate
- Promote and support the development of scouting in the group
- Manage and implement the Safety Policy within the group
- Ensure that a positive image of scouting exists in the local community
- Appoint and manage the operation of any sub-Committees as required
- Ensure that young people are meaningfully involved in decision making at all levels within the group
- The opening, closure and amalgamation of sections in the Group as necessary.
Acting as charity trustees
Every Scout Group is an autonomous organisation (its own individual charity), operating under the umbrella organisation of The Scout Association, and so requires a Board of Trustees by law. The first responsibility of all members of the Executive Committee is to act as trustees of the Scout Group. This is an important part of the role and all Executive members should be made aware of this. Remember that you are a trustee whether or not your group is registered with the Charity Commission. Charity trustees are responsible for ensuring that the business of the charity is carried out according to its own rules and within the relevant rules.
As trustees, The Charity Commission place these responsibilities on Executive Committee members:
- Accept responsibility for the running of the charity
- Act with integrity and with the best interests of the charity in mind
- Ensure compliance with the guidance of the Charity Commission and POR
- Act with care and make reasonable decisions
- Use personal skills and experience
- Seek professional advice when necessary
- Act honestly
- Ensure the charity is solvent
- Use funds only to further the work of the charity
- Avoid any undue risk.
Trustees can, in some circumstances, be liable for any financial losses incurred by the charity and must therefore consider their decisions carefully. However, as long as the trustees act reasonably, work within the governing document (in our case, POR) and take proper and appropriate advice when required to do so, either by law or, on occasions when additional advice is needed, then they are very unlikely to be held liable. The Scout Association provides automatic cover to insure all scout trustees across the UK against such liability: it’s called ‘Trustee Indemnity Insurance’. Speak to Unity Insurance for further advice at www.scouts.org.uk/insurance
There are certain groups of people unable to act as charity trustees according to The Charity Commission. For this reason, a charity trustee declaration is included on the Adult Information Form (AIF). All Executive Committee members must become members of the Scout Association and need to complete an AIF to make sure they have signed this declaration.
The Executive Committee has four types of members, these are:
- Ex officio members There are several members of the Group Executive Committee who are classed as ex officio members due to the role that they hold. They do not have to be nominated or voted onto the committee because their role means that they already have a place, these are:
- The Group Scout Leader
- The Group Chair
- The Group Secretary
- The Group Treasurer
- The Assistant Group Scout Leader
- Section Leaders (If they have expressed in person or in writing that they are prepared to be a member of the Executive Committee at the AGM)
- The Scout Active Support Unit Manager
- The local Explorer Scout Leader (if stated in a partnership agreement)
- The sponsoring authority or its nominee (as specified in the sponsorship agreement)
- Elected members Elected members represent the interests of the Group Scout Council and are required to be members of the council. These should normally be four to six in number. It is desirable to have representatives for each of the sections on the elected members.
- Nominated members People nominated annually by the Group Scout Leader and approved at the Group AGM. These need not be members of the Group Scout Council and their number must not exceed the number of elected members.
- Co-opted members People co-opted annually by the Group Executive Committee. The number of co-opted members must not exceed the total of elected members.
Right of attendance
The District Commissioner and District Chair have the right of attendance at all meetings of the Group Executive Committee.
Ideally, between the nominated members, elected members and co-opted members, the Group Executive should include a parent of at least one member of each of the sections in the Group.
Key roles on the Executive Committee
The roles of Chair, Treasurer and Secretary are vital to the smooth running of the Executive Committee. By choosing people with appropriate skills sets you can build an effective Executive Committee. (Remember that Section Leaders cannot hold these roles.)
A good Chair needs to be: organised; able to dedicate the time required to the role, both inside and outside of meetings; a strong an excellent communicator; and confident and effective in managing time and people. An effective Chair controls the Executive Committee meetings using their skills and liaises with those outside of the Executive Committee, including the District Chair and members of the community. They will need to be keen and enthusiastic, a leader by example and someone with whom you can work well alongside, otherwise it will be a long year!
It is important for the Group Secretary to have, or develop, good administration skills. Good written and verbal communication skills are also important, as the Secretary is often the first point of contact parents and members of the public have with the Group. An ability to take meaningful notes of the Executive meetings and AGM is crucial, and if necessary to submit accounts and reports to The Charity Commission.
The Group Treasurer is required to handle the financial management, administration and reporting for the Scout Group. Anyone who works in a financial environment or is interested in working with figures, money, book-keeping or wages will have the skills to be a Group Treasurer, as well as anyone who runs a business or charity. Challenging parts of the role include the correct presentation of accounts, budget setting, receiving and allocating funds; and reporting regularly to the committee.
They don’t necessarily have to be a very active part of the Group; just keeping the accounts could be the only thing they do.
There is a range of other tasks and interests of the group that you might chose for other members of the Executive Committee to take on. This may involve representing a section, raising the local media presence of the group, or managing and working on headquarters maintenance.
You can find out more about the duties of each of these roles in our Executive Committee Toolkit which you can find in the GSL Toolkit on our district website at www.cotswoldedgescouts.org.uk
Induction and support
Members of the group executive need to understand their role and their responsibilities as charity trustees, especially for roles such as the Chair, Secretary and Treasurer. Ask your DC about our executive support modules and when they will next be available in your district for your executive members to attend.
The Group Executive Committee may establish sub-committees as deemed necessary, with members nominated by the executive committee. The Group Scout Leader and Group Chair are ex officio members of all sub-committees.
Any fundraising committee must include at least two members of the Group Executive Committee, in addition to the ex officio members. Section Leaders or Assistant Section Leader cannot on this committee.
The executive committee carries out its duties by holding meetings. The committee will probably need to meet regularly to discuss issues and to plan for the development of the Group. Your Group Chair will need to manage these meetings and work to an agenda. It is important that these meetings are run effectively and help the executive committee in meeting their responsibilities.
It is very important to clearly define the difference between matters discussed by leaders and matters discussed by the executive committee. Whether the Cub Scouts should have orange or lemon squash at the Cub Scout fun day is really a matter for leaders, whereas whether there is enough cash in the budget for refreshments is a decision for the Executive Committee.
We have lots of tools to help you ensure your executive meetings are effective, these include a sample agenda you can edit to suit your needs and a template for the minutes. You can find these in our Executive Committee Toolkit which is located in the GSL Toolkit on our district website at www.cotswoldedgescouts.org.uk
The Group Scout Council
The Group Executive Committee carries out their responsibilities on behalf of Group Scout Council, the electoral body that supports scouting in the group. It is the body to which the Group Executive Committee is accountable. Membership of the Group Scout Council is open to:
- Section Leaders, Assistant Section Leaders
- Group Scout Active Support members
- Colony, Pack and Troop Assistants
- Skills Instructors
- Patrol Leaders
- All parents of Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts and Scouts
- The Sponsoring Authority or its nominee
- Any other supporters who may be nominated by the Group Scout Leader, Executive or Council at the groups’ annual general meeting (AGM)
- Explorer Scout Leaders (if stated in a Partnership Agreement)
- The District Commissioner (ex officio)
- The District Chair (ex officio).
Most people won’t be aware that they are a member of the Group Scout Council unless they are told. Certainly not parents and you might even check out the understanding of some of your Leaders!
So why not tell them through a group brochure or portfolio. A quality looking document that lets parents, their wider families and others in the local community know what they can do for Scouting.
Why not consider local politicians, business people, school heads, dignitaries, etc. the list is constrained only by your imagination.
The Group Council must have a constitution (see below), and hold an AGM. It is this body which effectively runs the group and does this by deciding who sits on the group’s Executive Committee to represent their interests.
In many cases the Group Scout Council is remote from every day scouting and meets once a year at the group AGM. It is a reality that many parents do not turn up for the AGM and let you get on with running scouting until they have an issue to raise.
This arrangement may suit you but having an effective and supportive Group Scout Council is something to be valued and you may want to consider how you could get more positive support.
The Group Scout Council is responsible for:
- Holding an AGM within six months of the group’s financial year end
- Approve the annual report of the group executive, including the annual statement of accounts
- Appoint an auditor/independent examiner/scrutineer
- Approve (or not) the Group Scout Leader's nominations for Chair and other roles on the executive committee
- Elect a Group Secretary and a Group Treasurer
- Elect certain other members to the executive committee.
Constitutionally the Group Scout Council only meets once a year but if you want to communicate effectively you’ll probably need to do better than that. It depends what you want of them. The more you want the more you need to keep in touch.
The group’s Annual General Meeting
The AGM is the official meeting of the Group Scout Council, it must be held within six months of the end of the financial year and cover the following compulsory business:
- Elect and approve the nominations for the membership of the executive committee
- Receive and approve the annual report and accounts of the executive committee
- Approve the Group Scout Leader’s nomination of the Group Chair and nominated members of the Group Executive Committee
- Elect a Group Secretary and a Group Treasurer
- Elect members to the Group Executive Committee
- Appoint the appropriate person to carry out checks into the accounting (a scrutineer, examiner or auditor as appropriate).
With ample planning and some thought we can use the AGM as a great promotional exercise and social activity as well as complying with the legal requirements. Use these tips to help.
Our Executive Committee Toolkit has lots of tools to help you achieve an effective AGM including a sample agenda which you can edit to suit your needs. You can find the toolkit in the GSL Toolkit on our district website at
The Group Constitution
Every Scout Group is an autonomous organisation (its own charity), but is subject to the policy and rules of The Scout Association.
As a charity, your Scout Group should have a constitution in place. A constitution is a document that sets out why an organisation or group exists, and how it is managed.
Why do we need a constitution?
There are a number of reasons for having a constitution, these include:
- Having a clear statement of the aims of the group (known as objectives). It is important that the people involved with the group, and other people and organisations, understand what the group has been set up to do.
- Having a set of guidelines or rules about how the group should be run, who can be a member of the group, how finances should be managed etc.
- Groups applying for funding from other organisations will almost always need a constitution. Many funders will ask to see a copy of a group’s constitution before they will give them funding.
- A group wishing to become a registered charity will need a constitution to submit to the Charity Commission.
Why bother with a constitution?
There are several reasons why it is worthwhile spending time working on a constitution for your Group. If it is done properly it can:
- Strengthen your group, by setting out clear aims.
- Help you to get funding, by showing that your group is organised.
- Save any disagreements about how the group is run, by putting your procedures down on paper.
- Help to prepare your group to apply for charitable status should you wish to do so in the future.
Every organisations constitution is different, but most follow a very similar format. The ideal (or modal), constitution for a Scout Group is set out in Rule 3.23 of Policy, Organisation and rules (POR). Occasionally, local factors may impede on the ideal but you should follow it whenever possible.
You can find out more about group constitutions in our Executive Committee Toolkit which you can find in the GSL Toolkit on our district website at www.cotswoldedgescouts.org.uk. Here you will also find our modal group constitution which is a word document you can download and edit to create your own group constitution.
The following checklist will help you identify how well your group governance is going and the areas that may need attention. It will also help you to identify your priorities. There is also space for you to add anything else that is specific to your role.
|The Group has an effective executive committee|
|The committee understands its role and performs it|
|Our role as charity trustees is accepted and understood|
|The officers are skilled and trained in their roles|
|The Executive meets regularly and addresses the issues in the group development plan|
|Meetings are effective and business-like|
|All necessary records are maintained|
|We have appointed people for relevant roles, e.g. Quartermaster, Hall Manager, Recruitment Manager, etc.|
|The group maintains proper accounts and manages its finances and budget.|
|The executive addresses issues such as community awareness, growth, adult recruitment, image, standards, resources, etc.|
|The executive understands the needs of the sections and addresses them|
|The group has an active Group Scout Council|
|We make our AGMs something special – an annual celebration of scouting in the group!|
|We make a special effort to invite people to attend the AGM|
|We get a good turnout at AGMs|
|Our AGM is “professional” and business-like|
|Our AGMs are fun|
|We make sure that we “sell” the role of the Group Scout Council to our supporters|
|We invite key members of our local community to join our Group Scout Council|
|The Group Scout Council meets more frequently than once per year.|