How to stay safe when organising school sports

  • Physical education and school sports activities deliver an overwhelming range of benefits for students, however on occasions injuries may occur
  • Regular inspection and maintenance of sports equipment will help prevent incidents in physical education lessons
  • We highlight some effective measures to help risk manage your sports activities

Physical education contributes to physical, personal and social development, helping students improve their confidence and self-esteem. However, risk is inherent in all physical activity and while it is neither possible nor desirable to remove all such risks, it is important that these risks are identified and evaluated as part of the lesson planning process.

Teachers should have a sound understanding of any activity that they lead or teach. When assessing an individual’s capability, previous experience in that particular activity should be considered alongside formal qualifications and the national governing body (NGB) coaching awards.

In determining the size of teaching groups and level of supervision, schools need to consider the nature of the activity, the age, experience and development stage of students and the guidance from relevant NGBs.

In teaching situations it is important for students to be well matched in terms of size, age, experience and ability particularly when physical contact and/or projectiles, such as cricket balls, are involved.

Protection, inspection and maintenance

Staff and students must wear suitable clothing, footwear and, when relevant, protective gear (having been checked for suitability prior to use) when partaking in sporting activity. In the case of an injury claim we have seen, it was revealed that a student who had suffered a leg injury during a game of cricket had not been provided with the appropriate protective leg pads. The wearing of jewellery also needs to be taken into consideration when playing sports.

Attention needs to be paid to working, equipment and storage areas to ensure they meet acceptable standards for reliable and safe usage. Regular inspection and maintenance needs to be undertaken not just of equipment, such as trampolines and goal posts, but also outdoor areas such as grass and all-weather pitches.

Sporting activities may also take place off-site and it is important that consideration is given to the safe movement of students. Procedures to check documentation, such as driving licence, insurance and MOT of staff using their own cars to transport students need to be in place. Where schools use coaches, supervision levels will need to be considered according to the students involved and any breaks in the journey.