Building a safe, enjoyable and inclusive environment for children

All FA safeguarding courses are football focused and child-centred


The FA seeks to build a safe, enjoyable and inclusive environment for all children and young people, whether they are players, young referees or qualified coaches.

To help guide those working with children and young people, The FA provides courses in safeguarding children. Sometimes these are required as part of a qualification e.g. for coaches and referees, however there are courses suitable for everyone, whatever their role.

All FA safeguarding courses are football focused and child-centred; they are relevant, engaging and designed to help learners act appropriately and with confidence.

Over 350,000 people have now attended our courses - that’s a lot of people who are more aware and helping to make football fun and safe.

FA safeguarding courses

Introduction to safeguarding for 14-16 year olds (FREE)

This course is for young people taking on positions of responsibility in football, raising their awareness of safeguarding and supporting them to report any concerns they have about their own or other young people’s welfare.

Referees aged 14-16 complete this as part of their initial training and are given access by their course organiser. Youth council and youth forum members can gain access via the local County FA welfare officer. The course cannot be accessed by anyone over the age of 16.

Safeguarding children course

This three-hour interactive course is suitable for anyone over 16 including managers, club officials, medics, parents, referees and those with roles in the professional game such as stewards and club mascots. It is a requirement for people taking on the club welfare officer role.

The course helps learners to identify and build on best practice in football, recognise signs of abuse and identify behaviour that causes concern, identify the actions to take if concerned about a child and develop an action plan for change.

It can also be booked by clubs so that groups of people can take or renew their training together. To attend this course, or book a club-based course, visit your County FA website or contact your County FA.

Safeguarding children course for coaches

From the 2016-17 season, as part of the Level 1 qualification, coaches take a module called ‘How We Support’. Part of this module is about safeguarding, which is made up of a two-hour course, followed by a one-hour online course, which is take in the learner’s own time. Once both parts are completed the safeguarding qualification is awarded.

Online Safeguarding Children Re-certification

The FA recommends that everyone working with under 18s obtains a fresh Safeguarding Children every three years. FA Licensed Coaches Club members and coaches working in under 18s teams in Charter Standard clubs are required to do this.

Re-certification can be done by completing the new, free online course which can be taken in the learner’s own time, at their own pace or by re-attending a safeguarding children course.

Launched in autumn 2016 the new online course is available to anyone who has an existing Safeguarding Children Course qualification or re-certification that is over two years old.

It includes material on safer practice with under 18s, safer use of social media, safeguarding disabled children, listening to children, recognising and responding to poor practice and abuse and how and when to report safeguarding concerns. 

To take this course download the PDF and follow the guidance.

To gain a new certificate via a safeguarding children course or to arrange one for your club visit your County FA website

Welfare officer course

The welfare officer course is a requirement for everyone volunteering to be a club welfare officer.

The course explores the skills, attributes, roles and responsibilities of the club welfare officer and the toolkit available to support the role. It focuses on the importance of safe recruitment, safe use of social media, strategies that help make clubs safer and building the club welfare officer’s confidence regarding how and when to seek help and advice.

Before enrolling on this course learners must have completed the safeguarding children course or the safeguarding children course for coaches and have an accepted FA criminal records check that is less than three years old.

To enroll on this course visit your County FA website.

Safeguarding for Committee Members

This free online course is written for Secretaries, Chairmen, Treasures and Club Welfare Officers in clubs with under 18 teams.

The course explores the key safeguarding building blocks in clubs such as effective committees, safer recruitment, building safe environments and recognising and reporting addresses whistleblowing and stresses how important the committee is in supporting the Club Welfare Officer to embed safeguarding.

In order for clubs in steps 1-7, WPL and grass roots to have affiliation awarded for the season 2017-2018 it will be a requirement that Secretaries, Chairmen and Club Welfare Officers have completed this course.

Please note: even if a person holds more than one role they only need take the course once.

To access this course please click here and follow the guidance provided.

FAQs on the safeguarding learning courses

How much do safeguarding children courses cost?

The cost may vary and some County FAs give a discount to people from Charter Standard clubs. Please contact your local County FA.

How do I find my County FA?

Some clubs are affiliated to County FAs outside their Local Authority address but the best place to start is to click here where you can find all the County FA contact details.

What if I have a safeguarding qualification?

The FA values the number of volunteers and staff who have a safeguarding background. We seek to build on this and ensure that everyone is aware of best practice in the context of football and the infrastructure that exists to support the game: The FA reporting pathways, help available and the designated person structure. By ensuring everyone has the same understanding, conversations can take place across the game. So we require FA courses and courses to be taken by those in certain roles and recommend them for others.

The last time I gained a certificate was online. Do I need to attend a course?

No. The FA has updated the online certification system and will continue to review it every three years. You have the choice of attending the course to gain a new certificate or do it online. Occasionally some people will be asked or required to attend a course as part of an education package or local decision.

I’m a club welfare officer and I need to get number of people re certificated. Can I organise a course in my club?

Normally this can be arranged if you have suitable premises. The cost will vary depending on where you live so contact your local County FA for more details.

I went on a course and I want to comment on something. What do I do?

In the first instance please email and your comments will be passed to the correct person. Please tell us the date, name and venue of your course in your email.

I didn’t receive a certificate although I went on a course. What should I do?

The online courses provide downloadable certificates and your FAN (your personal record) will be updated. If you attend a face to face course you should receive a certificate. Please contact if your certificate does not arrive

My question is not answered. What should I do?

If you have concern about a child please contact your club welfare officer, County FA welfare officer or NSPCC on 0808 800 5000. NSPCC provide a 24/7 helpline.

If you would like to know more about reporting concerns please click here

If you have another question please send this to