South Scotland MSP Martin Whitfield has lodged a motion at Holyrood welcoming Scouts Scotland’s new programme for children aged four and five, Squirrels.

The new programme builds on a successful pilot project run by the charity, which when evaluated by the Centre for Research in Early Childhood was found to have a positive impact on children’s development, especially communication and language and life skills.

The programme is the first time Scouts Scotland have introduced a lower age range for 35 years. Squirrels will get to be active, explore nature and have fun learning with friends, earning badges like all other Scouts.

Building on a successful pilot programme, Squirrel dreys will open initially in nine locations across Scotland, but with more to follow. Priority is being given to communities most affected by the pandemic. Research from Ofsted has demonstrated that children hardest hit by COVID-19 pandemic have regressed in basic skills and learning.

The programme is crafted to help them develop teamwork, communication, creativity, community awareness and other key skills. New badges will include Feel Good, Be Active, Explore Outdoors, Brilliant Builder and Exciting Experiments.

Martin Whitfield MSP said:

“Squirrels is a fantastic new initiative and I’m delighted to have welcomed its launch at Holyrood. Children have experienced significant disruption and upset to their lives during the pandemic and anything that can help them to recover and catch-up has to be a good thing.

“Scouts Scotland have an enviable track record of supporting young people to build their confidence and develop their knowledge and skills, and the Squirrels programme extends these opportunities to a younger age group. I look forward to seeing Squirrel dreys rolled out across Scotland.”

Katie Docherty, Chief Executive, Scouts Scotland said:

“Squirrels is part of our commitment to help young people, families and communities come back stronger from the pandemic. If you’re four, you’ve spent a third of your life in lockdowns.

“Our mission at Scouts is to equip young people with skills for life, and we know how important early years is in terms of developing these skills. We know this has especially impacted children in communities hardest hit by the pandemic. That’s why we are opening the first Squirrel dreys in those communities that need it most.”

Find out more about Squirrel Scouts at

Mr Whitfield’s full motion welcoming the programme is as follows:

That the Parliament welcomes the announcement by Scouts Scotland of a brand new programme for young people who are aged four and five, known as Squirrel Scouts; recognises that the Squirrel programme builds on a successful pilot project, which was evaluated by the Centre for Research in Early Childhood and was shown to have had a positive impact on children’s development, especially in the areas of communication and language skills, and life skills; congratulates Scouts Scotland for prioritising the roll-out of new groups, Squirrel Dreys, in areas most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and looks forward to new Squirrel Scouts learning new skills for life and earning new badges.