Best Practice For Safeguarding Children in Sports

1 February 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System

Safety procedures may not be the most glamorous part of your job, but they are the most important, and can even help you stand out from the rest. Once you have a thorough and well-executed safeguarding system, be sure to shout about it. Parents will be extremely grateful to know that their child is not only having a great time but is safe.



Online Registers

With your OpenPlay account, you will have access to bespoke online registers that were created when your attendees signed up. From there, your coaches can tick off attendees and immediately be aware of any flagged health conditions.


When working with children or vulnerable adults, you are required, by law, to undergo a DBS check. As an employer, you must apply for checks on behalf of your staff, if they don’t already have one. Coaches for children will need to have the ‘enhanced check’, which costs £44 and takes four weeks to be processed. Be aware, when hiring people who have lived abroad, the DBS cannot access criminal records held overseas. If your organisation requires fewer than 100 checks per year, you should complete these through an “umbrella body” which is registered for DBS checks.

Safety with OpenPlay

OpenPlay has teamed up with Onfido: an identity verification engine. Together, we vet anyone that tries to book a venue where children may be present (such as a school or youth centre). It’s quick and, most importantly, it’s secure, so you can be confident that no child’s safety is compromised.

First Aid

Many insurance companies and sports organisations (eg. the LTA) require coaches to be first aid trained before receiving their accreditation. Even if it is not essential, it is highly recommended. Again, it looks good on your website and parents will feel more confident.

Child Collection

Many organisations do not have a procedure in place for child collection as it is not required by law (except in nursery school settings). Yet, if there is no system, how is every coach to be sure that the adult collecting a child is safe? OpenPlay have come up with a simple and effective way to make sure no child falls into the wrong hands. Parents can authorise a new collector by digitally signing via their OpenPlay app. This way, the child is only released to an adult who is authorised, and parents know there is no chance of their child being handed to a stranger.


When determining your staff to child ratio, you need to consider a number of variables…

  • The nature of the activity
  • Age, competence, and experience of the staff
  • The age of the participants
  • Any special medical needs
  • Specialised equipment needed
  • The type of location

The NSPCC recommends at least two adults be present when working with children.

  • 0 – 2 years: 1 adult to 3 children
  • 2 – 3 years: 1 adult to 4 children
  • 4 – 8 years: 1 adult to 6 children
  • 9 – 12 years: 1 adult to 8 children
  • 13 – 18 years: 1 adult to 10 children

Duty of Care

Your duty of care extends further than your own actions. If you notice strange marks or bruising on a child, or a drastic change in their behaviour (a normally outgoing child becomes introverted and vacant), there is a reason to be suspicious. A way of dealing with this is simply to take the child to one side and ask them where they got the marks or why they are sad. You should, of course, not make suggestions to the child, but based on their response use your personal judgement to determine if your doubts have been quashed or if you should proceed further.

The legislation you should be aware of…

  • Children’s Act 1989: Nature of a child’s welfare. Expectations and requirements around duties of care to children.
  • Children’s Act 2004- banned physical punishment (anything that wounds)
  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006: Introduction of barred list
  • Protection of Freedoms Act 2012: Introduction of DBS checks
  • Education Act 2002- requires you to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

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