Why do we need coach licensing?
SOA Coaching Co-ordinator Lynne Walker explains the rationale behind the requirement for coaches to be licensed.
Licensing of coaches is happening in many sports and is part of the UK Coaching Framework (which basically governs how various Governing Bodies run their coaching schemes). It is seen as being a vehicle to help identify & develop active, skilled and qualified coaches. While being of a benefit to the governing body it should also be a benefit to the coaches as well in aiding their development. In orienteering we do look at the gaps in training and try to address these through the CPD programme, tailoring it to the needs which show up in the logs. Indeed without a licensing scheme in place we would find it difficult to access sportscotland funding for any CPD.
It has been suggested that someone should talk to people on the receiving end of coaching instead of having a filled in form. We hope (but this is dependent in time) to be able to invite ourselves along to coaching sessions within clubs and through this also have the opportunity to talk to athletes about their experiences. Even if we were to contact them by phone (with the coach’s permission) this would still be very time-consuming. Records would have to be written - by us - as there has to be something in writing. However the recorded 'coach performance' is only a part of CPD. Is the coach developing, keeping up to date with current issues? For example, when we inspect logs at the start of 2015 we will be looking to see if the coach has read the latest guidelines about concussion and if they have not we will be recommending that they do so. Is the coach undertaking any 'informal self-motivated' CPD? This would reflect that they are constantly looking for ideas, developing their background to coaching and increasing their depth of knowledge. On several occasions one coach has found something unusual and interesting that we can then share with other coaches, thereby raising standards quite broadly.
Under Scots law, coaches have a duty of care towards those participating in their coaching. Part of that duty of care involves being up to date on current practices, both within the sport and in other areas, for example, child protection.
If there is an incident and allegations are made that a coach has failed in his or her duty of care then that can have serious implications for both the coach personally and for the sport's national governing body.
Coach licensing and logged attendance at CPD events are a means by which the sport's governing body can ensure as far as possible that coaches keep up to date with best practice. Of course, some coaches would do this by themselves but this way there is a written record that can be presented if need be. We see this sort of evidence required in other areas. Organisers, for example, are required to carry out a written risk assessment of events. Most of us automatically mentally risk assess issues all the time but a written risk assessment gives us a written record that can be presented if need be and acts as proof that these risks were assessed and in what way they were mitigated.