Parents and carers play an essential part in encouraging and supporting their child to be active and play sport.
Rights and responsibilities
It's your right as a parent or carer to be able to check how well a sport/activity provider operates – for the sake of your child's safety and your peace of mind. Below we cover the key points you should consider when choosing a sports club, coached session or activity. It's also important to consider what impact you as a parent will have on how your child experiences sport.
Selecting a club or activity provider
These are the key points you should check when choosing a sports club/provider or activity for your child:
- Has the club or organisation achieved a sports body or local council accreditation (such as Clubmark) that's up to date? If so, then this can be viewed as evidence that the club or organisation has attained a certain level of safe practices as assessed by the awarding body
- The Club Matters portal provides a list of all Clubmark-accredited clubs and is a good starting point for finding a club
- If your sport is recognised but your club hasn’t achieved Clubmark, please follow the quick checklist under the 'assessing a club or activity provider' heading below and encourage your club to achieve Clubmark
- If the club/provision is martial arts, they can work towards the Safeguarding Code in Martial Arts, whether or not they are eligible for Clubmark. Details can be found here.
Assessing a club or activity provider
Even if a club is accredited, you should check that the organisation has:
- A safeguarding policy, with a clear procedure for dealing with concerns or risks of abuse. You should be advised how you can access the policy
- A named and contactable welfare officer responsible for the implementation of their safeguarding policy and dealing with issues relating to the protection of children, young people or adults in sport
- Procedures for dealing with complaints or concerns regarding poor practice, abuse or neglect
- Written standards of good practice, such as a code of conduct or behaviour
- A parental consent and emergency details form that you must return to the club or activity provider
- Safe recruitment procedures for those working with young people that include a clear job description, appropriate references, criminal records checks (e.g. DBS) for relevant posts and technical qualifications
- Access to appropriate safeguarding or child protection training for its staff and volunteers.
Assessing a freelance coach or instructor
If you're looking at engaging a coach or instructor who operates outside the structure of a club or activity provider, you should check that they have:
- A valid DBS which is relevant to their role
- The relevant minimum qualifications for the role they're undertaking
- A valid registration or licence from their governing body to coach, teach or instruct
- A valid public liability insurance
- Undertaken safeguarding training such as UK Coaching's Safeguarding and Protecting Children workshop, the Local Safeguarding Children's Board's basic awareness training. Or sport-specific training in line with their national governing body's guidelines
Remember, a well-run club or activity provider will welcome questions about their activities and policies. They'll know they have a responsibility to give this kind of information to anyone who leaves a child in their care.
For more information and support:
- Visit the 'What to look for in a sports club' section of the Child Protection in Sport Unit website
- Read the Child Protection in Sport Unit's charter for parents (PDF)