Our programme - what we're changing and why

We've listened to your feedback, and we're extending some changes to make your volunteering experience easier

07 July 2021

The Girlguiding programme was revealed in July 2018, launched officially after a changeover year in July 2019, and was one of the largest changes guiding has ever seen.

We’ve gathered feedback on the new programme and its rollout since it launched. In July 2020, in response to Covid-19 and based on your feedback, we made some temporary changes to the programme requirements. These changes were originally in place until July 2021. 

We received a lot of positive feedback about the newly lowered requirements, and have seen the number of awards slowly climb throughout the pandemic. To support more units returning to guiding as we start to ease out of national and local lockdowns, we will be extending these lowered requirements for another year, until the end of July 2022.

Throughout the next year, we will continue to track award figures and collect your feedback. This will ensure that we can make an informed decision on whether or not to make these reduced requirements a permanent feature of the programme in the future.

Here's a reminder of what we changed in 2020 and why. 

What we've changed

You told us: The programme recording tool takes too long for leaders to use, especially for skills builders

The programme recording tool enables leaders to record and monitor girl’s achievements through the programme as they move through the sections. It also gives us information on the popularity of different activities and badges, and helps us plan which topics we’ll develop in the future. However, it was created on a platform that meant we couldn’t have every function we wanted at the start.

We listened: We’ve added new functions to the programme recording tool, to make recording easier and quicker

The platform has been upgraded, so we’ve been able to make a range of improvements to programme recording and reduce the time leaders spend on it. Updates include:

  • If a badge or activity is added by mistake, you can now correct the entry.
  • Bronze and Silver awards automatically appear as ‘awaiting presentation’.
  • A new skills builder recording with a multi select function. We’ve had resoundingly positive feedback on this and we’re working hard behind the scenes to expand this to our unit meeting activities recording (UMA). 

We’re constantly listening and learning from your experience of guiding on the ground, and we hope that these developments will improve your experiencing of recording the programme on GO.

You told us: Some girls do not want (or feel unable) to do interest badges at home

Interest badges were designed to be completed away from the unit meeting space. This allows girls to pick the badges they’re most interested in and complete them in the way they want to. However, from your feedback, not all girls have the time, resource, or the inclination to complete badges away from units.

We listened: Introducing clear, concise interest badge guidance

With radical change being experienced throughout the world with the Covid-19 outbreak, we believe there’s still a place for interest badges that are written for lone girls, or for girls to do at home. Whilst the programme team were at a camp in Gloucestershire talking to members about the new programme, one leader told us what she does to encourage girls in her unit to complete badges.

'On one evening per term, we provide space for girls to complete what they need to. Some girls bring in camp blankets and use the time to sew their badges on. Some girls bring their badge books in and use the time to work on interest badges.'

So, where girls struggle to find the time or resource to complete interest badges at home, leaders can allow girls space or inspiration to complete them in unit meetings, or on trips or camps, provided that:

  • Girls have the space to work on the badges of their choice, in the way that they choose.
  • Any girls that do not wish to work on interest badges are able to take part in other unit activities.

You told us: It is challenging to find time for skills builder catch ups

Skills builders are designed to have five activities within each stage. These activities represent the development of well-rounded elements of the skill in the relevant area. A girl must complete all five activities to complete the stage and earn the stage badge.

However, we’ve had feedback that where girls miss a skills builder activity, it can be difficult to catch up. This means that progress towards the skills builder badge and Theme awards is slowed down for some girls, and they can become de-motivated. As Covid-19 meant many units couldn't meet face-to-face, we made a temporary change to current requirements.

We listened: There will be a temporary change to the number of skills builder activities needed to be completed to earn a stage

To achieve any skills builder badge from Stages 1-5, girls must complete four out of the five activities. For skills builders at Stage 6, all five activities must be completed. This is because Stage 6 is a higher level of challenge.

Some skills builders stages have linked activities – where it clearly says they must be done in order. With these stages, linked activities should be prioritised and make up part of the four completed activities.

These temporary criteria will apply until 31 July 2022, when we’ll review them. Due to their temporary nature, changes will not be made to the printed information held in badge books and section handbooks.

The programme recording tool has been updated to respond to this change – if a girl completes four activities in a stage, the leader can mark the stage as complete on GO. If a girl completes five activities, the system will continue to automatically show as ‘awaiting presentation'.

You told us: The route to Gold awards is too difficult

Gold awards are designed to be a challenge to our young members. Feedback has shown that in some cases, especially where unit meetings are shorter or where units don’t run for as many sessions per term, it’s too hard for girls to achieve all the required unit meeting activity hours for their awards.

At the moment, it’s too soon to see if this problem means we should make a permanent change to the award criteria. But we do want to make a temporary change as we know it has been hard to complete unit meeting activities during the Covid-19 lockdown.

We listened: There will be a temporary change to the unit meeting activity hours needed for Theme awards

We have reduced the unit meeting activity hour requirement for section Theme awards by one hour for each section. This means:

Rainbows: reduced to two hours per Theme award

  • Bronze award (two Theme awards): Four hours
  • Silver award (four Theme awards): Eight hours
  • Gold award (six Theme awards): 12 hours

Brownies: reduced to three hours per Theme award

  • Bronze award (two Theme awards): Six hours
  • Silver award (four Theme awards): 12 hours
  • Gold award (six Theme awards): 18 hours

Guides: reduced to four hours per Theme award

  • Bronze award (two Theme awards): Eight hours
  • Silver award (four Theme awards): 16 hours
  • Gold award (six Theme awards): 24 hours

Rangers: reduced to four hours per Theme award

  • Bronze award (two Theme awards): Eight hours
  • Silver award (four Theme awards): 16 hours
  • Gold award (six Theme awards): 24 hours

This temporary change will apply until 31 July 2022, when we’ll be reviewing it. As it’s temporary, we will not be updating the printed information in badge books and handbooks.

The programme recording tool has been updated to respond to this change – GO will automatically backdate all current girls’ records. Any girl who has now achieved their Theme award will have it updated as ‘awaiting presentation'.

You told us: The programme is too much like school

 The programme has been designed to include activities that develop girls’ skills, have fun, and explore new things.

Feedback from our volunteers and members has shown that some of the activities feel too school-like, in that they ask girls to write or talk and debate. Some of the topics we cover are also things that are covered in schools, for example, money and history. Members have also told us that they want to see more sports, crafts and cooking.

We recognise that schools are increasingly using informal education techniques, so developing activities that don’t have any similarity to new approaches schools use is sometimes a challenge.

We listened: We will introduce more active and craft-based activities

The programme team have been working to inject even more new activities into the topics they develop. New topics and activities exploring sport and art will be released in unit meeting activity packs through 2020 and 2021.

Throughout the year we’ve provided more advice around adapting programme. We give leaders the freedom to use their own judgment, and make small changes to activities by adding physical activity or crafting if they see fit.

For example, you could adapt things at the end of the activities during a reflection discussion. This could be done through a game of corners to allow the same discussion but in a different way.

For inspiration and ideas on how to keep guiding going virtually, check out #AdventuresAtHome. Here you can find monthly challenges or games to play in your online meetings, and download activities from the Girlguiding programme.