Half term again! Where will our children go?

Half term again! Where will our children go?

Well then, its half term again, I am not alone in thinking” where has the year gone?” however, there will be parents out there who cannot have the time off from work and are left with the age old problem about what are we going to do with the kids!

In recent years we have seen a significant rise in sporting activities that pop up during school holiday times, many parents now use these as an alternative to expensive child minders and with the continued rise in childhood obesity getting children to access sporting activities must be welcome.

When parent send their children to school, they do so knowing that the education sector is extremely well regulated and that safeguarding children is the first element of a school that is inspected. Ofsted reports are freely available online and all parents are written to following an inspection. Schools that fail an inspection often feature in the local media and parents do vote with their feet if a school receives ongoing “require improvement” notifications, only this week a BBC news report highlighted that over 60% of parents do not send their child to a local school but one further away. This shows the level of due diligence that parents now exercise when choosing their children’s school. However, does this level of due diligence occur when parents are sending their children to out of school activities whether it be sport, drama, dance or other interests.  As I travel around the country talking about safeguarding in sport to different audiences, I do ask the question about parental due diligence and more often than not the blank looks tell me everything! Even professionals who have a safeguarding background often say to me afterwards that they just drop their children off there, comments such as “they look so professional, they look the part, its sport what can happen” are more the norm rather than the exception.

This has to be a call to action for all parents, most of these clubs no doubt will provide a good service however there will be many that do not. Parents you need to start asking the right questions before you drop off your most valuable possessions at these activities. Please see attached some very useful resources* that will prompt you to ask the right questions about safeguarding, health and safety, accidents and complaints. Would many parents know who to complain to if they had concerns about an individual’s conduct? In a school the Head teacher or the School governors are the pathways for complaints, most parents know this and do complain, sometimes very vociferously! But where would a parent go to complain about an individual at a small sports club or out of school activity?  Would they know how to contact the LADO and do they even know what a LADO is? Information about the role of the LADO is set out in HM Government guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ (2018) Chapter 2 Paragraph 4.

These questions are so important for all parents to know and have the confidence to ask before letting their children attend extra-curricular activities, to fully cement this message another football coach has been convicted of numerous offences against children.

On May 23rd2019 Bob Higgins who was a youth coach at Southampton and Peterborough football clubs was found guilty at Bournemouth Crown Court of numerous offences against children that he was coaching.

The effect on these victims is life long and life changing so let’s try to stop abuse happening in the first place, parents do your due diligence before your children attend out of school clubs.

If you need any more information or advice regarding these key messages for parents, then please do not hesitate to contact me directly on the details listed below

* Resources can be downloaded from our website Resource tab – search Keeping Children Safe in Sport