Review into policy and procedure of the national teams in England
Conducted by SportCheer England
Background to the review
SportCheer England (SCE) is a volunteer committee that was formed in order to develop a National Governing Body for cheerleading in England. It is registered as a Company Ltd by Guarantee, but not yet trading.
As part of the formation of the committee, it was agreed that SCE would take responsibility for the oversight of the national teams, in an attempt to streamline their processes and create a more unified approach. Previously all the national Team England teams (representing the different cheer disciplines such as Pom, Adaptive Abilities etc) had operated independently of each other and only collaborated occasionally to undertake things like showcases. These teams are also run by volunteers and self-funded by the athletes, coaches and managers involved.
The Team England teams hold tryouts at the beginning of every cheerleading season between August and October and then have a limited number of training sessions throughout the year in order to prepare for the World Championships in the following April. While they might showcase at events in the lead up to April, in order to gain performance practice, each year’s team consists solely for the purpose of competing at the World Championships event.
Given SCE’s limited capacity to support the teams (as the committee currently has no funding/income and is run by volunteers), in their first year, SCE agreed that they would oversee the following aspects:
- Advertise, interview, and appoint managers for each team
- Provide managers with a handbook outlining expectations regarding qualifications, insurance, safeguarding, branding guidelines etc for the management and staff team to use as the basis for their own policies and procedures
- Check coaches DBS and qualifications
- Provide support or guidance when requested and possible
In this first year as an SCE committee, it remained the responsibility of each manager to create their own team policies, appoint coaching staff and undertake the team selections.
In 2020 two cases were brought to SCE which highlighted the need for a thorough review of how the national teams were being managed; with particular reference to reviewing the policies being operated by teams on athlete welfare, disability awareness and data handling.
This public statement is the conclusion of a review that has taken 12 months to prepare. This time period was necessary to ensure the appropriate investigations for the individual cases, to seek external advice from various experts that would feed into the decision making, and to establish next steps.
Action already taken
- A review of current policies operated by all of the national teams.
- Mandatory CPD certified training for all managers on data handling and storage.
- Preparation of a skills matrix for national team managers (to be used in the recruitment of managers). For Adaptive Abilities, this matrix has been prepared with the advice of experts in the field of disability sport.
- Meeting with the Activity Alliance (activityalliance.org.uk) to develop organisational training opportunity for SportCheer England.
- Appointed a policy sub-committee that will be responsible for writing policy and procedure in line with the Code for Sports Governance. This will include expert consultants in policy writing and sports law. Creating these key policies and procedures is necessary to develop a formal national governing body, create best practice guidelines as an organisation and establish SCE’s eligibility in applying for recognition from Sport England. Recognition from Sport England would also provide an additional layer of accountability for athletes, coaches, managers and those working and volunteering for SportCheer England and the national teams.
Actions in progress
- A commitment to making changes to policies where the outcome of the review deems necessary. Also the streamlining of all national teams under the same policies – to be done within a timeframe that allows new policy to be in place for the new season.
- Mandatory training for all managers and coaches on safeguarding and reporting procedures has been scheduled to take place prior at the start of the new season.
- Engagement with external organisations holding expertise in disability sport, to ensure that we understand and appropriately implement the additional policies and procedures necessary to keep disabled athletes safe.
- Mandatory training for Adaptive Abilities managers and coaches on disability awareness and discrimination, understanding adaptation and Adaptive Abilities skills for coaching is currently being scheduled and will take place before the start of the new season.
- Encouragement of continued personal and professional development for all managers and coaches with recommendations including the UK Coaching Duty of Care certification.
- Activity Alliance to provide SCE with LEAD training (Leading Equitable and Accessible Delivery programme) .
- Begin work necessary to ensure our safeguarding policies and procedures meet the standards of the Anne Craft Trust (ACT) framework for safeguarding adults in sport: this will culminate in a submission to ACT for review. ACT will then provide a summary report, along with a rating to indicate how well we have met the criteria and an action plan for further development. This framework will also be adopted by the national teams. (https://www.anncrafttrust.org)
As a new national governing body, it is our aim to bring together the various strands of the sport in England that have for the past 30 years emerged and developed organically and unregulated by any overarching body or governing authority (including our national teams). This will not be an easy task, and it will take time to work with the many organisations and individuals involved. We are grateful to those organisations and individuals who have contributed to the review process of our national teams.