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Guides at a school


Beginner (10+ posts)
I'm sure there must be someone in this wonderful community who runs a unit in a school - using the school facilities and open just to the members of the school.

Is anyone able to answer some questions for me, please? I am due to have conversations with TWO local schools (like buses, they all come at once!) about some options.

One is a girls school, they have boarders as well as non-boarding students. The school isn't that close to a unit so the options are either (a) organise transport for boarders to attend weekly Guide meetings, or (b) start a group/s at the school that the boarders and non-boarders can both attend. This school caters for girls aged 5 to 18. I think that option B is more sustainable over a longer period.

The other school is a community school for boys and girls aged 5 up to 11. They want to have a conversation about starting Guides instead of an after-school care program. I'm not sure what they plan to offer the boys at this stage (though, of course, they could offer Scouts to both boys and girls...). There is no other unit near the school.

Note: I'm in Australia where all girls are called Guides and the age of the girls in units is more flexible

I would love to know how to start a conversation with these schools - what should both parties be considering? Is it a good idea to ask teachers to become leaders, or should we start by asking mums/aunts/grandmas etc? Would a longer fortnightly/monthly meeting be a good idea for the boarding school? How would you convince parents to buy a uniform for their daughters to attend, what they will see as, an "after-school care program"? What issues might we come across that other units may not experiences?


Veteran (100+ posts)
Regarding the after school program - my workplace ( a fee-paying private school) has scouts once a week after school - aged 11+ - who's parents pay their subscriptions etc as per normal groups. The school seems to provide a space, not sure who pays for that bit (their own building) but the parents pay, buy uniform, pay for trips etc.
I would think that if a school wanted to provide scouts/guides as an after school programme, it should still only happen once a week, twice for special occasions. If my Guides met every day, within 2 years they would have completed everything there is to do!!!! If the school is willing to pay the subs for the after school, at a cost per person, then you need to raise the question about uniform - if they want Guides/Scouts then they have to accept that comes with certain expectations - uniform, promise, badges, trips, activities etc - and who will be paying for all of that!
Regarding the boarding school - again, once a week would probably work, but are they after a weekend activity or an evening one? Again, parents should be paying for uniform etc. One question to ask is if there are no other units close enough, does that mean the school unit would be open to external girls joining?? It would tick a box for the community side of things, and allow the boarding school girls contact with people who have a different lifestyle.


Veteran (100+ posts)
Staff member
Girlguiding in the UK have some resources aimed at promoting Guiding in schools, primarily the lower age ranges 5 to 10 years old but there may be some aspects that you can pick up on. There may also be an Australian resource looking at educational frameworks of the programmes too..

Recruiting in schools


Veteran (100+ posts)
Staff member
What to consider ......

Who is wanting this? Is it girls who've heard about Guides from friends at home? Is it the school looking to organise an activity to keep the boarders "entertained" (for want of a better word!)? Is it parents (of day pupils) looking for the after-school care? Is it one school or other, or both?
Depending the combination of answers there, will guide you (pardon the pun) about solutions.

Potential leaders - probably depends on the above. If it's "after-school care", then a sweeping statement might be that parents / carers are not the obvious new leaders (based on availability ..... if they were available, they could do their own after-school-care ;-) )
Would it work offering a limited programme? Depends on your own guiding programme ....... if you've got potential members aged 5-18, would all of the programme be on offer to everyone?

Queen Bee P.

Beginner (10+ posts)
I know of a unit that has opened in a school, after school. It is over subscribed. When the leaders give parents of girls on waiting list details of other groups in area, they don't want to know. When girls become too old, and parents of girls are given details of next section to join, they don't bother sending them. They ask why they cant stay on here. None of the parents are interested in letting girls go on trips either.


Veteran (100+ posts)
From the benefit of my own and a couple of friends' first-hand-experience, some points that are worth considering:

- Will you have space suitable for doing a wide variety of activities and access to any furniture etc you need? Always meeting in a tiny classroom crammed full of tables isn't ideal for active activities but only having access to a giant sports hall with no furniture isn't the best either! Is there any storage guides can use?

- How will the unit be funded? Schools may be able to provide a meeting room cheaply or for free, and may be willing to subsidise activities if it's only kids from that school attending, but are there any costs they may not have considered, for example uniform/ membership fees/ handbooks/ guiding-specific training for leaders/ special outings or events/ camps/ camping kit? An optional-extra activity at a boarding school would probably be able to pass on to costs directly to parents but depending on the circumstances of the school & parents, after school care might have more financial restrictions.

- Teachers are possible leaders for the new groups, but if they're offering it as after-school care or within their boarding school would they expect to be paid for their time? If activities happen within their usual working hours or they take it on as an alternative to taking on another school responsibility, they'd be being paid for their guiding time by default. How would that fit in with the Australian Guiding ethos, and how would it affect taking the girls on outings/ camps/ local guiding events?

- Be clear about what the schools' expectations are and how these fit in with your programme structure. Lots of groups hire school halls etc for meetings with no problems, but if you're anticipating being more closely linked it's better to iron out any conflicting expectations early on in discussions to avoid problems later! For example, in the UK the guides are meant to choose and run a lot of their own activities (e.g. a guide patrol might run a healthy cooking activity that doesn't go to plan, but if the kids learn lots about working as a team/ how to overcome problems/ how to plan better next time then it wouldn't worry me that they'd learned very little about healthy eating!), which doesn't necessarily fit in well with the expectation in some UK schools that any school-based activity will have a clear curriculum for the year set out in advance with measurable targets. Rules about behaviour tend to be less formal at guides than at school too!

- How will girls opt-in and out of guides? In general, if a girl loses interest in an out-of-school activity, they can move on to something new at the end of term before they become too much of a nuisance, whereas if they're taking part in the activity at school or because it's the only after school provision offered then there's more of a risk they don't want to be there, so I'd be particularly wary of offering guides as a direct replacement for the after school programme. Plus, we've occasionally had to cancel meetings due to volunteer leader availability/ illness when we couldn't find cover, which would be much more problematic if parents were dependent on on us for essential childcare.

Good luck with your school meetings, let us know how you get on :)


Rules may differ in Australia, but in the UK it's no longer possible to open a unit where membership is restricted only to members of a school (or place of worship, or whatever) - membership has to be open to any girl who wishes to join whether they are a member of the school or not. It may be that due to geography and planned meeting time it would by default exclude non-pupils, but you have to allow for the possibility of a non-pupil applying to join - would this be acceptable to the school? Would they be willing and able to accept all applicants on equal terms whether pupil or not?


Veteran (100+ posts)
My broader district has a school based unit (Australia- Melbourne). I've visited & helped a couple of times.
It's run once a week, at about 4-6pm??

Some of the positives:
Being after school is very convenient for some families, & they're quite enthusiastic about it.
Getting junior leaders is easy- the senior school promotes it as a good resume builder. Several of these JLs have stayed involved.
Some challenges:
As an after school program they seem to have slightly different legal/financial requirements (not sure of the details!)
Due to the school's rules, access is limited to kids at that school, not open to kids from the school in the next street, which is annoying.

Uniform hasn't been an issue, the girls all have the shirts and slip them on at the start of the session.
It's definitely been tricky to get the kids to move on elsewhere in the district once they age out of the group, but honestly that's the same across our units!


Veteran (100+ posts)
I'd be emphasising the benefits to their girls - the 'rounded' experiences, personal skills etc.

You need storage.

Who will the leaders be and do they understand the need to ollow the programme and requirements of the organisation?

In my experience, parents did not want flexi-Guiding and were only interested in regular weekly meetings. Could be worth asking them before making any plans.

Hope it goes well.


Guide Guider
For what it is worth I went to boarding school and initially went to a "normal" Guide unit getting there on a minibus the school put on, however after a year there were just about enough of us to have our own school Brownie and Guide meetings which was much better - we didn't feel like outsiders and we also didn't feel different when activities were being organised that were difficult for us to attend/bring items for, numbers actually improved dramatically the following year.
The school unit was also open to non boarders but the day girls used to go to units nearer them so we didn't even have a single day girl at either Brownies or Guides - the timings may have made a difference as there was a gap between the end of school and the unit meetings.
For the boarders we were given the option of it being like any other after school club that came with a kit list and charge, so we arrived for the term with our uniform and had paid our subs to the school who passed them on.
Really & truly the meetings need to be weekly as we didn't have someone going round reminding us tonight it is Brownies/Guides, you had to be self sufficient so having it every other week would never have worked especially when you add half term into the mix.
Our leaders were Guiding volunteers from the community, none of the teachers were involved at all. Having said that my friend is the island Commissioner of St Lucia where most units are run as an after school club and a huge percentage (well over half) the leaders are teachers at the relevant school, they are all day schools though not boarding.


Beginner (10+ posts)
Thank you all so much for your replies! You all raised some great points and I'm especially thankful to those who shared their personal experiences. It's so great to be part of a community that understands that we gain nothing unless we work together (very different to my work life at the moment unfortunately!)

This has given me a really good base to start some conversations with these schools. Thanks again :)