Code of conduct for coaches

Canoeing coaches at Royal Canoe Club must be qualified to take or lead groups of paddlers. British Canoeing sets out a number of responsibilities which coaches have to ensure the paddlers in their care can enjoy the sport, are treated fairly and are protected from foreseeable harm.

Duty of Care

Duty of Care is the duty that rests upon an individual or organisation to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure the safety of others. We all have a duty of care to everyone we come into contact with or have an effect on, this responsibility increases as we take on more responsible roles such as being a coach. It also increases in specialist environments if we have a greater level of knowledge or ability than those around us. Duty of Care is a legal commitment to being responsible. It is not something that we can choose, to avoid by writing disclaimers, or something we can duck out of. The BC Duty of Care policy outlines a general and basic view of our duty of care.

Physical Competency

Coaches need to be fit and able to perform the job. The BC Statement of Physical Competence requires coaches to declare any medical conditions that may impair their ability to be responsible for the overall safety of others. The declaring of impairments does not necessarily debar a person from coaching; certain working conditions may be established to ensure you can maintain your responsibilities. This helps protect coaches, and is a mechanism by which British Canoeing can support those individuals with specific medical conditions. If you need to declare a medical condition return the Medical Declaration Form to your Home Nation.

Participants Statement of Fitness

As a coach responsible for others safety it is important to establish that participants are fit to perform. Information may be gathered on booking forms, signing-in sheets, or specific forms. (See note later about guidance on Keeping Records, this includes information about data protection, confidentiality etc)

Coaches Code of Conduct

The BC Coaches Code of Conduct outlines the behaviour a coach must display to keep children and adults safe from harm. The BC Coaches Code of Conduct meets National standards for sports coaches across the UK, and sets standards for coaches as well as providing information to participants about what standards are expected. The code of conduct comprise such values as responsibility, humanity, relationships, commitment, co-operation, advertising, integrity, confidentiality, abuse of privileges, competence, personal standards and safety, with regards to a responsibility towards participants, colleagues, British Canoeing and to society.

Safeguarding and Protecting Children and Vulnerable Adults

All BC Coaches have a role to play safeguarding the welfare of children and preventing their abuse. We have both a moral and legal obligation to ensure that when given the responsibility for children we provide them with the highest possible standard of care. Canoe England provide a number of resources are available to support Coaches, available here.

You will find all the British Canoeing policies, templates and guidance notes on their website.

First Aid

All Coaches (with the exception of BC UKCC Level 1 Coaches) are required to hold an appropriate First Aid award to ensure they have the skills to appropriately treat a paddler if they are injured. Canoe England hold details of this on your membership record – so if you haven’t already please send us a copy. Coaches must also ensure they have access to an appropriate first aid kit whilst coaching.

Responsibility to the environment

As a coach you have a responsibility to protect our environment and to teach others to do the same. We are fortunate to be involved in a sport that allows us to enjoy the wildlife and explore the landscape as an essential part of the canoeist’s pleasure for aesthetic, cultural and recreational reasons. The responsible use of canoes and kayaks leaves no trace of passing and causes no erosion, noise or pollution; and is unlikely to have any significant impact on or lasting disturbance to wildlife and the water environment. The British Canoe Union, as the sport’s governing body in the United Kingdom, recognises that the wildlife and landscape of Britain is a part of our common heritage, and has a clear duty to concern itself with the care of the environment where canoeing takes place.

Keeping Records

One of the responsibilities of the coach is to keep records. Whilst you may not be directly responsible for all of the following records, you may need to collect information about your participants, your sessions, safety, accidents, venues etc. The BC Coaches code of conduct provides guidance on how to treat this information, including not to divulge it to a third party without the express approval of the participant, (confidentiality does not preclude the disclosure of information, to persons who can be judged to have a “Right to Know”). Coaches also have a responsibility to the Data Protection Act (1998) that states only relevant and necessary information should be held, used only for the purposes stated, not kept for longer than required, secured in a safe place, disposed of securely, and not passed on without consent.


If a coach fails to meet their duty of care and someone becomes injured or suffers loss or damage, they can make a claim against the coach. It is therefore vital that coaches have Third Party Liability insurance to provide cover against claims of negligence. Third Party Liability insurance is included within Canoe England membership this insurance, covers anything we consider ‘Canoeing activities’, including Coaching Canoeing. It is important that details of any known incidents or injuries that occur to students while undergoing coaching or taking part in canoeing or kayaking activities are reported to British Canoeing, particularly those involving a personal injury, which may give rise to a subsequent claim. Sharing this information with BC will ensure that the information is passed through to BC’s insurance brokers. Individuals reporting incidents in this way need have no fear or concern about action being taken against them. Canoe England Members are required to use the BC Incident Report Form for reporting such events.

Civil Liability for Coaches

Qualified BC coaches who are current individual members of British Canoeing are covered for civil liability under the BC policy provided that their annual turnover is less than £25,000 per annum; with the following conditions:

• They can have a trading name

• They can be a partnership (each partner can turn over up to £25,000).

• They cannot be a limited company

• They cannot employ staff

If anyone has a question about Royal Canoe Club’s policy on coaching, the code of conduct for coaches or any other matter, they should take this matter up with the club by emailing the club secretary.

This document was updated on 14 February 2018. All information was believed correct at that date.