ESFA Child Welfare

Child Welfare

English Schools’ Football Association is committed to its responsibilities to safeguarding the welfare of all children and young people involved in football. ESFA Council is consciously aware of the importance of providing a safe and secure environment for the thousands of young people who play football within the family of ESFA and has consistently sought advice from The Football Association’s Eqality and Child Protection Department. These discussions, together with the FA’s affiliation requirements and our legal obligations, have formed the basis of this policy which has been developed over a number of years.

Safeguarding Children is everyone's responsibility and having Welfare Officers in all ESFA District and County Associations with representative teams is crucial to The FA’s simple three part approach to safeguarding. This includes:

  • Getting the right people involved – seeking references and DBS checks.
  • Creating a safe environment - codes of conduct, education and best practice.
  • Promoting clear systems - to deal with any concerns - policy and procedures

ESFA Affiliation Policy

This policy applies to those Associations who run representative teams only. If you do not have District or County teams, you do not need to appoint a Welfare Officer.

In order to affliate representative teams to ESFA, all District and County Associations MUST have a named Welfare Officer who has complied with the following FA Welfare Officer requirements;

  • An Enhanced FA DBS disclosure. (these are not portable from school or other organisations)
  • Attended the FA’s Safeguarding Children Workshop
  • Attended the FA’s Welfare Officer Workshop.

FA DBS disclosures can be obtained by downloading and following the instructions in the
pdf FA DBS (CRC) ESFA Applicant Guidance or through your local County FA offices, by appointment.

Please remember, Associations, will not be able to affiliate unless a Welfare Officer is in place.

FA Enhanced DBS Checks

The FA requires everyone who works or volunteers in children’s football and regularly cares for, trains, supervises or is in sole charge of children to apply for an FA DBS Enhanced Disclosure.

By completing a DBS Enhanced Disclosure application, you are allowing The FA to have sight of any criminal record or non conviction information that is held and released by the Police via the DBS process. This information may include outstanding prosecutions and relevant allegations of criminal behaviour. In line with the DBS Code of Practice, The FA may disclose this information to those involved in making a suitability decision. The FA may use any or all of this information to help decide your suitability to be involved with children or vulnerable adults in football.


  • All Associations running District or County representative teams must list all their managers and coaches during the affiliation process.
  • Every team must have a   named coach/manager who has an accepted FA Enhanced DBS certificate.
  • Representative team managers and coaches who do not have an accepted FA Enhanced DBS must not be involved.
  • It is the responsibility of each Association to ensure the procedure is completed and adhered to.
  • Teams will be suspended and unable to play matches or train unless the managers and/or coaches are listed on the ESFA portal with an accepted FA Enhanced DBS.

Applying for an FA Enhanced DBS check

How do I get started?

Go to and select REGISTER from the login screen and enter the information requested, including:

Org name
1English Schools FA
Secret word

Once registered you can then login using the above organisation PIN, your email address and password created as part of the registration process and commence your online application. You will be asked for your National Insurance, Passport and Driving Licence numbers so please ensure you have this information ready.


In order for the check to be submitted, you will need to provide proof of your identity. There are 3 ways to do this:

  1. You can have your documents verified face-to-face at the Post Office.
    • A fee will be charged at the Post Office for this service (currently £8.75).
    • Take your original documents together with a clear and legible photocopy of each document into the Post Office, together with the Post Office ID checking service form (available to download at
    • The Post Office counter staff will check each document against the original, date and sign each photocopy and stamp with the words ‘this copy is a true likeness of the original’ on each document.
    • They will give you back all your documents and provide you with a receipt.
    • You must then send this form, together with the photocopies to:
      Martin Duffield at 52 St Mark's Road, Dudley, West Midlands, DY2 7SD.
  2. Or you can post your original documents to Martin Duffield at 52 St Mark's Road, Dudley, West Midlands, DY2 7SD. Please send your documents by recorded or special delivery and they will be returned to you in the same way, usually within 24/48 hours
  3. Or you can make an appointment with one of the verifiers listed on the website when you complete the application.

The list of acceptable ID and an ID selection tool form part of the online application.

What happens next?

You will be notified that your application has been verified and will receive an email asking you to log into the online service and make your payment, using the Paypal online payment service. You will need to go back online and pay for the check. The cost is £10 for volunteers.

Once you have paid, the application will automatically submit to The FA Disclosure Unit where the application will be validated before progressing to the DBS for further processing.

  • Upon completion, the DBS will issue you with the Disclosure.
  • Only one certificate is produced and it will be sent directly to you.
  • If there is any “content” on the disclosure (even if not relevant to your role) you will be asked to send the certificate to The FA to be assessed
  • Failure to return the certificate when requested will result in an automatic suspension for non-compliance

REMEMBER: DBS disclosures are not portable between organisations unless a specific application is made through the Government Portability Service. A DBS Disclosure completed through a school procedure will not be accepted by ESFA.

Renewal of Enhanced DBS

The ESFA recommended best practice is for renewal after 3 years.

FA Workshops

The FA’s Safeguarding Children and Welfare Officer Workshops are football-specific courses which cover the FA’s policies and procedures for reporting concerns and look at scenarios related to football and the FA’s guidelines for safeguarding children. FA Welfare Officer procedures may not be the same as in schools and it is important that County and District Associations with representative teams follow FA procedures on Child Welfare matters, in order to comply with ESFA policy.

County FA’s run regular workshops which are advertised on their websites and may usually be booked online.

Safeguarding Children Workshop (SCW)

The Safeguarding Children three-hour workshop covers the following:

  • Why football needs to safeguard children
  • Best practice in football
  • Signs and indicators of abuse and poor practice
  • Action to take if you have concerns about the welfare of a young person
  • Your relationship and behaviour towards young players

Welfare Officer Workshop (WOW)

This workshop is only for those who have taken on the role of Welfare Officer for their District or County Association. Please note - you must have completed the Safeguarding Children Workshop before you can attend this workshop. It is important that you have an understanding of what safeguarding in football means before you attend the WOW.

The three-hour Welfare Officer Workshop covers the following:

  • The role of the welfare officer and the safeguarding children network
  • Resources and support available
  • Key safeguarding legislation
  • Statutory agencies and role of The FA
  • Making referrals and dealing with poor practice
  • Action planning and creating an aware Association

Reporting Concerns

If you would like to speak to one of the National Welfare Officers, please contact either:

Please be advised that both officers work part time and may not be immediately available but will reply to your messages as soon as possible.


Safeguarding children is everyone's responsibility. If you are worried about a child it is important that you report your concerns - no action is not an option.

  • If you are worried about a child then you need to report your concerns
  • If the issue concerns a schools’ District or County team, you should contact your Association Welfare Officer.
  • If the issue is one of poor practice they will either:
    • Deal with the matter themselves or
    • Seek advice from the ESFA National Welfare Officers
      (Sarah DaCosta and Martin Duffield)
    • If the concern is more serious - possible child abuse - where possible contact Sarah first, then immediately contact the Police or Children's Services
  • If the child needs immediate medical treatment take them to a hospital or call an ambulance and tell them this is a child protection concern. Let your Association Welfare Officer know what action you have taken.
    If at any time you are not able to contact your Association Welfare Officer or the matter is serious then you can either:

ESFA Child Welfare Officers

The ESFA has two Child Welfare Officers, each assigned to cover areas of the Country.

Safeguarding Children Downloads

ESFA have produced policy and procedure guidance which can be downloaded using the tabs on the right of this page.

The FA have also provided downloads to help you achieve best practice in Child Protection activity. These files are available on the FA's website at the address given below.

AOTT Status

Adults other than Teachers

English Schools’ F.A. (ESFA) Competition Rules stipulate that:

All teams must be under the ultimate control of either:

  1. A practising teacher
    (recognised as such by the Department for Education)

  2. A retired teacher or a present or past employee of the education service,
    who has received direct approval in writing from the appropriate local or county association, to undertake such responsibilities.

  3. A person who has direct approval in writing from the appropriate county or local association WHO
    1. Has at least a level 1 FA coaching qualification
    2. Has undergone a (FA DBS) Criminal Records Bureau Check (payment for which is the responsibility of the individual or local/county Schools’ Football Association.)

Any Association wishing to use an individual qualifying to have ultimate control of a team under (Section iii) working without the presence of a teacher/retired teacher/past or present member of the Education Services MUST for insurance purposes register the individual(s) with the ESFA. This registration must be done on an annual basis and approval may be withdrawn at any time by the ESFA, or the county or the local Schools’ Football Association.

Any person assisting with or coaching a team must otherwise operate in the presence of a person who is qualified under (i) or (ii) above.

School Matches

In a school versus school situation, matters of Child Welfare remain the responsibility of the Headteacher(s)


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