Guidance for parents & carers

Sport helps children to grow and develop, and can provide opportunities for enjoyment and achievement. Through sport children can develop valuable qualities such as leadership, confidence and self-esteem. Every child and young person has the right to have fun, be safe and free from harm whether training for a local team, playing for a local club or representing a sport and country at international level.

It is essential that parents/carers have a general awareness of good practice when selecting a sports activity for a young person to attend. This will ensure that they can enjoy sport within a safe and secure environment where they feel protected and empowered to make the most suitable choices. Providing children with positive sporting experiences means that they will be more likely to achieve their true potential.

Questions for Parents/Carers to Consider

Are the coaches qualified? All coaches/leaders must hold an up to date nationally recognised governing body coaching qualification/s which is appropriate to the level and sport being coached. In general an assistant coach must hold a Level 1 qualification and should coach under the supervision of a more experienced and qualified coach. A Level 2 qualification is required for a coach to be coaching on their own.

Does the coach have appropriate training? It is recommended that coaches have attended nationally recognised safeguarding and protecting children in sport training. Training should be recognised by the appropriate National Governing Body, Sports Coach UK or Local Safeguarding Children’s Board. If coaches are working in schools it is recommended that they have attended education awareness training.

Are coaches & club personnel suitable to work with children and  young people? All coaches and club personnel who have direct contact with children and young people should have been appropriately screened. This should include: The successful completion of an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check if appropriate. Appropriate references taken.

Are the coaches insured? Coaches should have up-to-date, appropriate insurance cover.

What is the player/coach ratio? The ratio of coaches to participants varies from sport to sport and should be based on: The age and ability of the children involved. The risk involved in the activity. Needs of disabled young people in the group. Contact the sports National Governing Body for sport specific guidance.

Who do I tell if my child takes medication? Sports organisations/coaches need to be aware of any medication that your child is taking, or if they have any other particular needs. You should be asked when you first attend an activity, but if not inform the coach.

What happens if my child is involved in away fixtures? The club will take responsibility to ensure the safety of your child whist in their care. The sports club/organisation should inform you about the event arrangements. You should know how your child is getting to and from the event. Prior to the fixture you should be provided with a parental consent form. You will need to complete this form and return it clearly stating emergency contact numbers and medical information.

Policies/Procedures to look for

National Governing Body Accreditation - The sports club/organisation should have, or be working towards National Governing Body Accreditation, or equivalent, that outlines minimum operating systems of the sport. National Governing Body Accreditation ensures that the club is committed to providing a safe, effective & child friendly environment. The sports club/organisation should be working to minimum operating standards outlined by their National Governing Body.

Child Protection Policy - Club/organisations should have a child protection policy which outlines procedures for dealing with possible abuse, disclosures or poor practice. The club/organisation have a responsibility to act on any instances of abuse, disclosure or poor practice. Parents/carers should be aware of the policy and be able to view the policy on request.

Code of conduct - Clubs/organisations should have a written code of conduct for parents/carers, coaches, club staff/volunteers and participants.

Insurance - The club/organisation should have public liability insurance.

Health & safety - The premises/venue should satisfy fire regulations. The club/organisation should issue a consent form for all new members requesting details of emergency contacts, medical history and consent for your child to be photographed or videoed.

The club/organisation should always have: Somebody on site who holds a first aid qualification, access to a first aid box and telephone. Guidelines for dealing with injuries. Mechanisms in place to ensure the safety of the venue and equipment.

Your role as a parent/carer

Always ensure that the young people you are responsible for have:

  • The correct kit/equipment
  • A suitable drink when required
  • Sun cream if needed
  • Medication if required
  • If in doubt contact the club/organisation for specific requirements.

Always ensure that you:

  • Ask the appropriate questions to ensure that activities are safe and child friendly
  • Are aware of and act in accordance with the club/organisations code of conduct for parents/carers
  • Inform the coach of medical conditions/medication taken. (Remember to keep the coach up to date)
  • Inform the coach of any disabilities or special requirements that your child has
  • Ensure that the club/organisation has emergency contact details 
  • Drop off, and pick up your child at the correct times, as advised by the club/ organisation
  • Talk to your child about the activity to ensure that they are enjoying it 
  • Are aware of how and when to report a concern, allegation or disclosure about poor practice or possible abuse.

Always ensure that the young people you are responsible for know and understand:

  • The club/organisations fair play charter and/or code of conduct for participants
  • Who they can talk to if they have any concerns

Be Clear

It is beneficial to take the time to go through the club/organisations participant’s code of conduct or fair play charter with the young people you are responsible for.

For more information on safeguarding in sport within Cumbria please contact Russell Maddams Lead Welfare Officer at Active Cumbria 07909 537638

Call the NSPCC's free, 24-hour Child Protection Helpline with any concerns about a child or young person on 0808 800 5000.