The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presented many challenges for us all. The lasting impact of the pandemic has resulted in a shift in the way that many people communicate and seek information, using remote learning and coaching alongside face-to-face.
The NSPCC has created some useful safeguarding guidance for schools who have introduced remote teaching to keep in touch with students at home.
Further to this guidance, we have provided additional information that may be specific to sports clubs and organisations.
A fundamental consideration for all organisations is what your own safeguarding procedures say about online use. Our online safety page has information and advice on this.
You may need to apply some of your existing guidance and procedures to the new environments. However, the principles of online safeguarding still apply. Therefore, for all online teaching and coaching, the following fundamental questions should be considered:
- Do you have an online safety policy and an acceptable use statement? These should include the use of social media for staff and young people. It would be useful to revisit this and reissue it to coaches, clubs and members.
- Are there specific procedures to follow in the event of concerns arising during online interaction, for example between a coach and a young person? These can be linked directly to your safeguarding procedures but need to be clear and accessible.
- Do all those using, or likely to use, online coaching know what the codes of conduct are for these environments? Do you have a process for signing up to these online? This is a great opportunity to promote codes of conduct to all members and remind them of the consequences of not following these codes.
- What processes are in place to ensure that coaches selling or offering their coaching services online are registered with you (where appropriate), have been recruited appropriately and have the correct qualifications and insurance to offer online coaching?
- Parental involvement is critical to ensure you have parental consent for involvement in the activity. How is this managed by the coach?
- What is the process for addressing concerns raised, such as instances of misconduct online, and how do these work during the current pandemic?
- Consider the platform that is being used. Are privacy and confidentiality settings appropriate? For more information on different websites and platforms, see the NSPCC's advice on keeping children safe online.
Online group coaching sessions
Ensure that all members have access to the sessions to avoid anyone feeling excluded from the group. Can the session be recorded for those that are unable to attend live (in accordance with consent and data protection guidance)? Consider how communication between the coach and the children and their parents is managed. Is this in line with your procedures?
Be clear on what the sessions will be used for. This will ensure that participants are clear on what to expect and will help to reduce any anxieties on this new way of training.
Have sessions been risk assessed in light of the specific needs of the audience? How will risk be managed? For example, if there is an injury as a result of activity during the session.
Is there an opportunity for the group to interact directly, or is this only via the coach? If the former, how will this be monitored and moderated? How will cyber bullying be addressed?
Are codes of conduct clear for coach and participants?
One-on-one online coaching sessions
These sessions should take place in an open environment – for example, the living room – and should be organised with the parent’s consent and supervision. Consider how communication is managed between the coach and the child and their parents.
Have sessions been risk assessed? And how will risk be managed?
Are codes of conduct clear for coach and participant?
Training programmes and schedules
Many clubs are posting training schedules online that can be completed at home. These should be carefully managed, with regular discussions to ensure skills and techniques are being performed correctly to avoid risk of injury.
For further information, the NSPCC has published guidance on what we can all do to keep children safe online, including advice on:
- livestreaming and online video apps – advice to help you understand the risks and keep your child safe
- parental controls – how to set up parental controls can help keep your child safe online
- reporting online safety concerns – what to do if you're worried about something a child has experiences online
- Online safety – CPSU topic page
- Undertaking remote teaching safely – NSPCC Learning
- Coronavirus advice and support for parents and carers – NSPCC
- Coronavirus – safeguarding and child protection – NSPCC Learning
- Safeguarding guidance for livestreaming activities (PDF) – Lawn Tennis Association