If you are looking for a football club or team for you child to join then we have some information and advice for you to consider. In this section we will explain what it means to you if a club has a Scottish FA Quality Mark. We have also included the Scottish Government's tool called '15 Questions to Ask' which advises you on the things you should be looking for when selecting a club to trust your child's wellbeing with.
The Scottish FA operate a Quality Mark accreditation scheme along with our community partners McDonald's. Clubs enroll on the Quality Mark programme because they want to be the very best they can be.
We currently have three levels of awards, Standard, Development and Community.
For a club to reach any of these three awards they must prove to use they have in place a number of policies including a Constitution, child protection, staff and volunteers training, minmum coaching certificates, first aid trained personel as well as structures including a board or committee with certain appointments and a development structure for both players and volunteers.
Other criteria for each award include the number of teams operating and an inclusion of girls football.
When going through the Quality Mark process a member of Scottish FA staff is working with and supporting the club in achieving each area of criteria.
If a club has achieved a certain level of Quality Mark you can at least be sure they have a large number of proceedures, plicies and structures in place aimed at creating a safe and fun environment for your child to develop.
Fin out more about Quality Mark here, or find a Quality Mark club near you here.
From the Scottish Government:
1. Is the team/club affiliated to a larger organisation like the Scottish Youth FA or the Scottish FA? If so, does it have good contact and a good relationship with the umbrella organisation? You should ask for details about who runs the club, are they local parents/teachers; do they have any contact with other youth groups or the local council, and if so what type of contact?
2. Can the team/club give a named contact within the local council's community education or community services department who is aware of their operational practices?
Not all groups will - it should be sufficient to be satisfied in relation to either questions 1 or 2.
3. Is the group/club subject to regulation and inspection by an outside body? The majority of groups and clubs will probably not fall within this category, however, some groups such as after school clubs may require registration with the Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care.
4. Is there a leaflet which gives basic information about the team/club, its aims, leaders, nature of the activities, cost, meeting day(s) and times of meeting (start and finish) including holidays?
5. Is it established practice that parental consent is sought for outside visits, adventure activities, etc.?
6. Does the team/club have set procedures on their recruitment (e.g. vetting arrangements such as Criminal Record checks), training and management of workers/ volunteers including training on protecting children and personnel?
7. Are there adequate numbers of leaders/adult helpers (volunteers/paid staff) and is there a clear policy that there should be a minimum of two adult leaders/ helpers for an activity/meeting to operate safely? Safe practice requires that there should always be at least two adults present to ensure that no adults find themselves working alone with children. It is desirable that there are adults present of the same sex as the young people involved in the club.
8. Are there clear procedures and guidance for staff and volunteers in respect of behaviour towards children?
This could be in the form of a written Code of Conduct for staff and volunteers so that parents know what standards of behaviour to expect - this might cover things such as the appropriateness of physical contact with children, comforting children and accompanying children to toilets.
9. Does the club/organisation have a formal constitution setting out its aims, management and financial policy and procedures? Most youth groups and clubs have a management committee which meets on a regular basis with local parents among its members and an annual rotation of membership with nominations invited from parents of the young people involved in the group. This ensures a degree of parental supervision and input into the group's activities.
10. Are parents encouraged and welcomed to visit the club, to meet those in charge and to view activities? If not, you as a parent, should consider whether this gives cause for concern.
11. Does the team/club have a health and safety policy, a First Aid kit, a First Aider and adequate procedures for recording and notifying accidents? Is it insured?
12. Does the club have a policy to ensure the protection of children and young people and is the policy made available to parents? Is the policy maintained and reviewed?
Leaders should have a clear understanding of the organisation's criteria for recruiting and selecting staff and guidance on planning work to minimise opportunities for abuse.
13. Does the organisation have established procedures to handle complaints? This may be through a nominated member of a management committee or an independent party who is not directly involved in the running of the activity but there should be a named person within the organisation who can be contacted.
14. Is this complaints procedure made clear to club members?
Parents should encourage their children to tell them if there are any occurrences about which they are unhappy or uncomfortable.
15. Have you asked other parents about the group/club and the leaders? Any concerns about the group/club will often be picked up by talking to other parents with first-hand knowledge.