Swim England

A nation swimming

Welfare and safeguarding FAQs for swim schools

Click or tap on the questions below to find out more about welfare and safeguarding within swim schools.

What does Child Safeguarding and Child Protection mean?

This definition for Safeguarding Children is taken from the Government Document “Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018” and is “The action taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm”

The actions are defined as:

  • Protect a child from maltreatment.
  • Prevention of impairment to a child’s physical, mental health and development.
  • Ensuring children grow up in circumstances consistent with provision of safe and effective care.
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

Child Protection is part of the safeguarding process it focusses on protecting children who are identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm.

What does poor practice mean?

When the needs of children are not given the necessary priority compromising their welfare or wellbeing. Poor practice can easily turn into abuse if it is not dealt with as soon as concerns are raised. Organisations which allow poor practice to go unchallenged will soon find their culture is one that allows poor and abusive practice to exist with “it becoming the norm”.

Examples of poor practice could include code of conduct issues, not using recognised teaching practices, ignoring health or safety or having no process for dealing with concerns or complaints. (List is not exhaustive).

What is my safeguarding responsibility as a swim school owner?

The Children Act 1989 and 2004 and the Government Document “Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018” are clear that safeguarding children is the responsibility of everyone. These documents detail your responsibility and you should read them carefully, ensuring you fully understand your duty and responsibilities to safeguard children in your care.

Should I have a Child Safeguarding Policy for my Swim School?

Yes. As a minimum the policy should:

  • Be made available to all your staff, parents and carers of children who attend your school.
  • Contact details for your Designated Safeguarding Lead and other agencies including emergency reporting.
  • Reflect local child safeguarding arrangements.
  • Outline how someone can make a referral.
  • Outline how allegations will be dealt with and recorded.
What is a Designated Safeguarding Lead?

Your organisation should designate an adult (which could be you) to have lead responsibility for safeguarding children in your care. That person will act as a source of support, advice and expertise on matters of child safeguarding. That person should:

  • Be suitably trained.
  • Have a good understanding of safeguarding and child protection.
  • Understand what abuse and neglect might look like.
  • Understand the Local Authority referral process and who to contact.
  • Be ready to act when a child safeguarding concern is reported, so appropriate referral processes are followed in order to safeguard the child.
I don’t have a Designated Safeguarding Officer, what do I do?

Your organisation should take steps to recruit or upskill a current staff member into that role.Find a Safeguarding CPD course near you: https://www.swimming.org/ios/course-information/swim-england-safeguarding/.

How can I find out about my local safeguarding arrangements including Children’s Social Care and Multi Agency Safeguarding Hubs?

Every local authority in England is covered by a Safeguarding Partnership. A safeguarding partner in relation to a local authority area in England is defined under the Children Act 2004 (as amended by the Children and Social Work Act, 2017) as:

  • The local authority.
  • A clinical commissioning group for an area, any part of which falls within the local authority area.
  • The chief officer of police for an area, any part of which falls within the local authority area.

The three safeguarding partners agree on ways to co-ordinate their safeguarding services; act as a strategic leadership group in supporting and engaging others; and implement local and national learning including serious child safeguarding incidents.

It is important you find out what the partnership arrangements look like in your area. These will be found on your local authority’s website. You should make yourself familiar with the referral routes in your area and who to contact. If the website is not clear – ring them up and find out.

What is a LADO?

Every local authority appoints a Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) sometimes known as a Designated Officer. The LADO manages allegations made against individuals who work with children whether that role is employed, self-employed, casual or voluntary.

When should I contact LADO?

The LADO must be alerted within 1 working day where it is alleged that a person who works with children has:

  • Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or has harmed a child.
  • Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child.
  • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children.
  • Behaved in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children.
I want to report a safeguarding concern – where do I start?
Refer to your Designated Safeguarding Lead for advice, ensuring you have taken any immediate steps necessary to protect any child from risk of harm.
What do I do in an emergency child safeguarding situation?

If you believe a child has been harmed or may be at immediate risk of harm and you are unable to contact your Designated Safeguarding Lead, or you are the Designated Safeguarding Lead for your Swim School then immediate contact should be made with; the Police, Children’s Social Care, Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), NSPCC Child Protection Helpline or other agencies as appropriate. Take the name and contact details of the person you have spoken to and the incident /referral reference number (if appropriate), so you have a record for your Swim School. Parents and carers of the child should be advised of the actions you have taken only if they are not implicated/involved in the concern.

Should a Swim School have contact information and an emergency contact list available to all staff in the event of a child safeguarding situation?

Yes. There is a template at the front of Wavepower you can adapt, we suggest it contains the name and contact details of:

  • Swim School Designated Safeguarding Lead.
  • Swim England Learn to Swim Team.
  • Swim England Safeguarding Team.
  • Police.
  • LADO.
  • Children’s Social Care.
  • Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).
  • NSPCC Child Protection Helpline.
  • Any other local authority safeguarding teams or agencies applicable to your area or contacts that are useful to your Swim School.

Ensure all swim school staff are aware of this list and have been provided with a copy, as well as knowing what to do in an emergency situation.

Where can I access good quality child safeguarding training?
You can contact your local authority to find out what training they offer in your area or through an approved provider in your area. In addition, the NSPCC offer advice and training which you can access.
Alternatively, any adult member of the swim school is able to register to attend an Institute of Swimming Safeguarding CPD course, which is available here: https://www.swimming.org/ios/course-information/swim-england-safeguarding/
What should the Safeguarding training cover?

Training should outline the core principles of safeguarding good practice, responding to concerns and provide an understanding of child protection legislation and responsibilities. It should:

  • Ensure awareness of the categories of abuse and the potential signs and symptoms of abuse.
  • Explain what to do if you have concerns for a child.
  • Explore the legislative context and statutory framework for safeguarding.
  • Develop skills around identifying, responding to and reporting concerns.
  • Signpost to further advice and support.
I have had a safeguarding complaint about a teacher from one of the parents at my swim school. I am not sure who is in the wrong. What do I do?
Contact the Local Authority Designated Officer within 1 working day with full details of the complainant, the teacher, and the allegation being made. Do not try to investigate the complaint. Take advice and guidance from LADO on what you should do next.
Does Swim England have templates to work from?

Wavepower, which is the Swim England Safeguarding Policy and Procedure has templates that Swim Schools can access.

Everyone should also signpost the NSPCC for resources and templates, which are available for Swim Schools to use.

What is a whistleblowing policy and why is it important?

It is vital for any organisation to have the option for those involved to express their concerns about any incident or misconduct. This may prevent risk of harm to children under their responsibility. An example of a Whistle Blowing Policy can be found in Wavepower and the NSPCC.

Wavepower: https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/wavepower-child-safeguarding-for-clubs/
NSPCC: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/globalassets/documents/about-us/nspcc-staff-whistleblowing-policy.pdf

I would like to set up my own swim school/I am part of a business that needs to put some key policies in place – what do we need in terms of safeguarding?

Consult with your Local Authority to see what is available in your area.Remember you can use the resources available through the NSPCC and Wavepower which will guide you regarding best safeguarding policies to have in place; a trained Designated Safeguarding Lead having the responsibilities for such.

Can I get legal advice from Swim England?
The Swim England Legal Department are not set up to provide legal advice to members including Swim Schools. In terms of clubs they can access legal advice through their insurance – DAS Legal Helpline.
Can I contact Swim England for Safeguarding advice and guidance?

Advice and guidance on child safeguarding matters for your Swim School should be raised to your Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL).

If they are unable to respond or are unsure how to respond and the matter is not an emergency situation they should contact the Swim England Learn to Swim Team at learntoswim@swimming.org to seek further guidance. In an emergency situation where you believe a child has been harmed or may be at immediate risk of harm contact should be made immediately with either police, Children’s Social Care, Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), NSPCC Child Protection Helpline or other agencies as appropriate.

Take the name and contact details of the person you have spoken to and the incident/referral reference number (if applicable) so you have a record and report this to your DSL as soon as possible.

If you have concerns in relation to behaviour towards children of someone who holds a position of trust in your organisation you should contact your DSL to make a referral to your Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) within one working day. If the concerns are in relation to your DSL refer the matter directly to the LADO. The LADO will advise the Swim School on actions to be taken.

If there is an incident at my swim school, what should I do?

Depending on the nature of the incident, it is always vital to take any steps to ensure all children are protected from immediate harm.

If the incident is related to child safeguarding, refer to your Designated Safeguarding Lead for advice, as well as, the Local Authority Designated Officer or Swim England. The information shared will be on a ‘need to know’ basis.

How do I securely record safeguarding concerns as I may need to produce them at a later date?

The Swim School’s Designated Safeguarding Lead should have a secure method of retaining records of child safeguarding concerns. If they are needed to be produced at a later date, they should be made accessible to those who require it.The NSPCC provide advice and guidance on records here: https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/briefings/child-protection-records-retention-storage-guidance/

What are the different safeguarding concerns and what could a safeguarding concern look like?

Safeguarding concerns can be wide ranging. Swim Schools can use Wavepower as a guide and use resources from your Local Authority and the NSPCC.Wavepower can be accessed here: https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/wavepower-child-safeguarding-for-clubs/

Does Swim England provide guidance on Safe Supervision and teaching in the water?

Yes, Swim England have a running pools section on the website which includes the Safe Supervision guidance.https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/worker-health-and-safety/

Does Swim England provide other resources for teaching children I can access?

Yes, please refer to the Swim England website using the useful links section below. Also, the Swim England Learn to Swim Team produced an article on the Best Practices teachers should use when Teaching in the water. This can be accessed here: https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/best-practice-within-swimming-lessons/

Where can I find advice and guidance on safeguarding adults?

The Ann Craft Trust (ACT) is a national charity which exists to minimise the risk of abuse of disabled children and adults at risk. Through pioneering training, practice reviews and contributing to world-leading research, they support organisations to safeguard disabled children and adults at risk and minimise the risk of harm.

Ann Craft Trust


Swim England Teaching Resources


Can I get GDPR advice from Swim England?

Swim England are not in a position to offer advice or guidance on GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

If you are concerned, you can contact the Information Commissioner Office (ICO) here: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/

The ICO has a helpline that you can call. Alternatively, if you have legal cover within your insurance policy you could contact them for advice.

Useful Links

Useful links

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018


The Children Act 1989, Children Act 2004 and other legislation




Wavepower the Swim England Child Safeguarding Policy and Procedures


Does our swim school need a welfare officer?

A welfare officer is needed in every swim school. They are the contact between the national governing body and the swim school, as well as being the designated person all members/participants of the swim school would go to with any safeguarding/best practice concerns. In the situation where the welfare officer may be the individual needing to be reported, the individual reported must contact their local authority designated officer (LADO) as well as making the national governing body aware.