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 training does the swim school Welfare Officer need?

They need to have attended a Safeguarding Course, and the school must ensure their Safeguarding certificate is uploaded to the Swim School Online Management System (SSOMS). In addition you are required to attend a Welfare Officer training (Time to Listen) mandatory 3-hour course which will provide further understanding of the role and what support is available. More information to follow.

Find a Safeguarding CPD course near you: https://www.swimming.org/ios/course-information/swim-england-safeguarding/.

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.

What is a Welfare Officer?

Your organisation should designate an adult to have lead responsibility for safeguarding children and adults 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.
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.

What email address should I use for a Welfare Officer?

There will be certain individuals in your club who are designated points of contact, for example the coach or welfare officer. It is acceptable to share their contact details with parents provided that this is explained to such key contacts in advance and confirmed in writing within the clubs privacy notice.

We would recommend that club staff / welfare officers and committee members use an email like clubcoach@club.co.uk rather than their personal email address. This is a recommendation to Club and County email addresses. If a County WO needs assistance on this they should be contacting their Regional team , and club WOs should be setting one up through their club so the domains sit with the club / region and therefore easy to handover when the WO changes.

Any email must be secure, to safeguard individuals’ and businesses’ personal sensitive information against malware / and other individuals being able to access them. Avoid the use of a.warefamily@gmail.com which may be accessible to many persons.

You may want to consider encrypting emails, preventing unauthorized access, and adding a password to send items.

I don’t have a Welfare Officer, what do I do?

Your organisation must take steps to recruit or upskill a person into that role. In the interim whilst Swim England schools assign and train a Welfare Officer, Swim England are accepting the current person to act in this role to ensure there is a designated lead in place if they have safeguarding awareness and a current safeguarding certificate. However, if there is a conflict of interest, such as being in a position as a teacher or related / close relationship with the staff, recruitment will need to be actioned asap, and a new independent person appointed. Please inform Swim England Swim School team when this has been completed.

We suggest you ask any local groups / school leads / welfare officer’s attached to Swim England clubs local to you, or other swim schools to see if they will be that point of call. It maybe neighbouring schools can act as each other’s Welfare Officer. There are also local Volunteering organisations whom have volunteers signed up ready, wanting to help out, and may be able to connect a school with them. (This is locally based and therefore a google search is recommended).

In an event where no one can be appointed, in the first instance, please speak to the County Welfare officer’s found here: https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/safeguarding-contacts/ and they may be happy to act as the point of call for the school or help you find one.

If you require any further information please call National Welfare Officer on 01509 640274 who will be able to talk through this with you.

Why do I have to attend a Swim England specific safeguarding course?

As an national governing body, we have a responsibility to all our members, especially our children to ensure our safeguarding training courses are part of a proactive approach to creating a safe culture. We also have a duty of care to educate members in positions of trust or responsibility with the relevant, specific and appropriate information for our aquatic environments. This decision to only accept the Swim England course from January 2024 was based on a number of factors, and ensuring we align with other NGBs.

In attending a Swim England safeguarding course, we can be confident members are receiving a bespoke course, and the content design has been based on the trends of concerns and scenarios in an aquatic environment. In addition, we must not forget the opportunity to network, collaborate and share ideas when we are in attendance. Creating the content for our courses enables us to embed the key messages, update information, and signpost to policies, which generic courses don’t provide.

Quality assurance and standardisation are important to the organisation, and understanding what our members are being educated on ensures everyone is receiving the same message. If we continue to approve affiliated external bodies, we will have to quality assure every course to ensure it is fit for purpose, which we aren’t able to do.

Do I have to complete this as soon as I have a membership?

No, the course needs to only be completed when your safeguarding certificate is up for renewal. For example, if you complete a certificate on 31st December 2023, you won’t have to renew until 31st December 2026. (However, we always advise you to consider attending a Swim England safeguarding course sooner, if able to for the reasons stated). You will then need to attend a Swim England safeguarding course at the point of renewal, and following this every 3 years you then have the option to choose with safeguarding refresher you want to complete.

If I have a safeguarding certificate do I have to send it to Swim England?

Swim school members and their teachers must ensure their Safeguarding certificate is uploaded to the Swim School Online Management System (SSOMS) for their swim school to become a member. The SSOMS is a new portal that will be available to swim school members on launch in early November 2023.

A Safeguarding and Protecting Children certificate is valid for three years. If you already have one, all you need to do is send in proof to us. If you would like to submit proof of a valid certificate, please email renewals@swimming.org. Alternatively, you can call our Membership team on 01509 640727.

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.

For more information, please visit Wavepower: https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/wavepower-child-safeguarding-for-clubs/

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.

For more information, please visit Wavepower: https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/wavepower-child-safeguarding-for-clubs/

I want to report a safeguarding concern – where do I start?

Refer to your Welfare Officer for advice.

For more information, please visit Wavepower: https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/wavepower-child-safeguarding-for-clubs/.

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. It should contain the name and contact details of:

  • Swim School Welfare Officer.
  • 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.

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

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 Welfare Officer.

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.

Please email safeguarding@swimming.org should you have any queries.

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/

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/

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.

For further guidance please consult Wavepower: https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/wavepower-child-safeguarding-for-clubs/

Ann Craft Trust


Swim England Teaching Resources


For more information, please visit Wavepower: https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/wavepower-child-safeguarding-for-clubs/

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