Each County FA must undergo a comprehensive safeguarding assessment called The FA’s ‘Safeguarding 365’ Standard. This safeguarding assessment standard, which was issued in September 2021, sets out the criteria which Leicestershire & Rutland County FA (LRCFA) must meet, in order to demonstrate that safeguarding is fully embedded throughout the organisation and seen as ‘business as usual’. This assessment is conducted by two Independent Assessors from the NSPCC and the Child Protection in Sport Unit (NSPCC/ CPSU). Each County FA receives two rounds of assessment, over the 2021/22, 2022/23 and 2023/24 seasons. The first round of assessment for LRCFA was conducted on 4th July 2022. Each County FA has to Demonstrate that the standard has been met is a condition of the FA/County FA Funding agreement, and if a County is unable to prove this, then funding can be withheld.
LRCFA received 28 days’ notice of the assessment visit on 7th June 2022. In preparation for this visit, the CFA was required to conduct a self-assessment against the standard, by uploading a wide range of evidence demonstrating that each of the 78 criteria under the six core standards had been met. Each member of the Senior Safeguarding Group took responsibility for at least one standard, ensuring that the evidence uploaded was of high quality, and clearly demonstrated the excellent Safeguarding practice undertaken throughout the business. All staff supported the evidence gathering process. This uploaded evidence was viewed by the assessors prior to their visit, to provide them with an overview of how safeguarding is managed in LRCFA. On the day of the visit, the assessor’s conducted a range of interviews with both Board and Team members who held safeguarding responsibilities including the Chair, Safeguarding Board Champion, CEO and Designated Safeguarding Officers (DSO’s). This was the opportunity to question staff on the evidence uploaded and obtain further examples of how safeguarding is embedded throughout the business.
The Safeguarding 365 assessment concluded that Leicestershire and Rutland County Football Association had met all standards, and in several cases exceeded these standards. This was a significant achievement given that the previous safeguarding assessment in January 2021 had identified several areas of priority action being needed. It is a credit to all concerned particularly the DSO (who had been in post for a relatively short period of time) and also the CEO and the Board, all who had attended a safeguarding visit to clubs as part of their commitment to the safeguarding agenda. As a result of meeting all standards, there was no requirement for an action plan. However, going forward we do need to focus on ensuring that the Youth Engagement Strategy is fully implemented, providing evidence of areas where the voice of young people was heard and acted upon, and ensuring that we are evidencing that we can demonstrate that the rights of 16/17 year-old players in Open Age football has been effectively communicated to all stakeholders.
Please click here to see the full NSPCC Independent Assessment of the Implementation of FA Safeguarding 365 for Leicestershire and Rutland County FA.
Surinder Sharma, LRCFA Chair: ‘’I am delighted to receive such a positive endorsement by the NSPCC assessors for the safeguarding work we undertake here in Leicestershire and Rutland. It demonstrates a clear willingness and commitment to go above and beyond to ensure children, young people and adults are supported in an environment that meets the safeguarding standards set by the FA and fully implemented by the County FA. This is a real credit to the team and demonstrates the commitment we all have to safeguarding practice in this County’’
Emma Haywood LRCFA DSO ‘’Our achievement recognises the priority that we, as a County FA, give to the safeguarding of children and adults at risk in grassroots football, and that the assessors acknowledged that our practice not only demonstrates a collective responsibility from both staff and directors to meeting the standard, but ensuring we go above and beyond to exceed expectations, ensuring that the environments provided within our County are fun, safe and enjoyable for all.’’
Future Assessments and update from launch of Safeguarding 365 Assessment 2022
Our follow up assessment, which will be conducted unannounced at any time during the next two years, will be an online only review of the evidence we provide to demonstrate our continued compliance with the Standard.
At the end of September, the FA issued a revised version of the Safeguarding 365 Standard. Whilst every area of the game will see more stringent safeguarding requirements, there are significant changes in the Open Age and Adult Disability game, some of which will be effective from Affiliation for 23/24 season.
All clubs with Open Age teams will be required to name a Club Welfare Officer on affiliation for the 23/24 season. Clubs will be unable to affiliate unless this requirement in met. It will be mandatory for this named Club Welfare Officer to hold the FA’s free Player Welfare qualification, and an enhanced DBS check (although the latter is not a requirement for Veterans or Walking Football). Additionally, where these Open Age teams contain players aged 16/17 years, all eligible club officials (Managers/Coaches/Assistants and Medical Staff/Physios) will be required to hold an enhanced DBS check and Player Welfare qualification.
Clubs with Adult Disability teams must name a Club Welfare Officer on Affiliation for season 23/24. In addition to an enhanced DBS check, Club Welfare Officers will be required to hold the Safeguarding Adults qualification, in addition to the Player Welfare qualification.
Leicestershire and Rutland County FA will further communicate with clubs regarding these additional requirements over the next few months, but should any clarification be required, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for support and reading our report.
Niki Clemo, LRCFA Board Safeguarding Champion