A Guide to CoachMark

What is CoachMark?

CoachMark is a scheme supported by both Herts Sports Partnership and Hertfordshire County Council that establishes standards for the coaching of sport and physical activity in schools and other locations, and helps to safeguard young people who participate. A coach accredited by CoachMark meets the minimum standards set out by sports coach UK, the governing body for sports coaching.

A CoachMark coach meets the required criteria in the following areas:
• Age
• Coaching qualifications
• Insurance
• Welfare safety
• Child protection training
• Code of conduct
• References

What is the aim of CoachMark?

The CoachMark scheme will help to ensure that the standard of coaches involved in coaching sport in Hertfordshire meets some basic requirements (the minimum standards referred to above). It will also help to ensure the safety of children in our local schools and elsewhere, and reassure teachers and parents alike about the individuals coaching their children.

CoachMark will also mean that access to schools for coaches is more consistent. With one criminal background (DBS) check from Hertfordshire County Council, the need for multiple checks can be avoided.

How will CoachMark coaches be identified?

Coaches that meet the CoachMark standard will appear on the Coaching Herts website at this address:

CoachMark coaches have the option of carrying a CoachMark photo ID card. However, in isolation this is not proof that the coach is part of the scheme. The most current information available will be reflected on the CoachMark website.

How do coaches register with CoachMark?

The first step is to register on the Coaching Herts database – www.coachingherts.org.uk. As part of this process, coaches complete a Quick Profile, providing information on:

Age - DOB, under '1. Personal Info'.
Coaching qualifications - under '3. Qualification'.
Insurance, Welfare safety and Child protection training - all under '4. MSD Info/Additional Learning'.

Having created a profile on the database, coaches can log on and provide additional information at any time. For CoachMark, the following details are needed under the 'Compliance' tab:

 'Other qualifications':
  - Insurance (issuer and expiry)
  - Safeguarding (where completed)
  - Code of Conduct
  - CRB/DBS (expiry date)
  - details of two referees, who will be sent an email asking them to complete an online reference

After that, the information entered has to be validated – Herts Sports Partnership can do this, by appointment or at a CoachMark validation session. Additionally, a number of Sports Development Officers in local authorities and School Games Organisers can also validate a coach's information locally.

Once that has happened, the coach’s name will appear on the Coaching Herts website (see the link above). The coach will also be issued with a free and optional CoachMark photo ID card.

What if a coach does not meet the CoachMark standard?

If a school or some other employer is already working with a coach and the coach’s name does not appear on the list of CoachMark coaches, the school/employer should discuss why with the coach. It may be that they have yet to register, or it may be that the coach does not currently meet the required standards for CoachMark. In either case, the prospective employer should (as a matter of urgency!) agree a timescale with the coach to complete the CoachMark process.

Any new coaching appointments should meet the CoachMark standard.

Herts Sports Partnership does not recommend any discretion on the age and qualification elements of CoachMark. Additionally, coaches should only coach those sports in which they are qualified.

Coaches may already have a criminal backround (DBS) check from their own sport’s governing body – if they need a Hertfordshire County Council DBS check, the Herts Sports Partnership can arrange that.

Herts Sports Partnership also runs Safeguarding & Protecting Children workshops – click here to link to the Workshops and Courses section of the main website. There are other providers, including governing bodies and Hertfordshire County Council.

A number of governing bodies for sports offer insurance schemes for their coaches. Also, full membership of sports coach UK offers insurance for qualified sports coaches.


Additional information on CoachMark standards


Lead coach or independent deliverer: 18+ years.
As the lead coach has a significant level of responsibility, it is important that he or she is a minimum age of 18 and is, therefore, an adult. This recommendation is supported by the major sporting bodies in the UK.

Assistant coach: 16+ years
An assistant coach works under the direction/supervision of a lead coach. As such, the minimum age recommendation is 16. This age recommendation is also in line with the entry criteria for most Level 1 coaching award courses.

Coaching qualifications

Lead coach or independent deliverer: Level 2 or above

Assistant coach: Level 1

Within the UK Coaching Framework, the level of coaching award reflects the technical competence of the coach. Guidance on the appropriateness of certain qualifications can be sought from the Herts Sports Partnership or the specific governing body of the sport.

Please note that coaches should only coach those sports in which they are qualified. Unqualified coaches should not be used. In general terms, a level 2 qualification in one sport does not mean that a coach is qualified to act as a lead coach in another sport.

(There is much more information on coaching awards on the sports coach UK website. For guidance on Level 1 coaching awards in a range of sports, click here.)


An appropriate insurance policy that covers the coach for the duties to be undertaken ensures that both the coach and the participants are covered. The cover required depends upon the nature of the role being undertaken.

Many governing bodies of sports offer insurance schemes to their coaches – some include insurance cover as part of their coaching awards. Failing that, full membership of sports coach UK offers coaches specialist insurance cover.

A minimum of £5 million cover for professional and public liability is recommended, although some governing bodies of sport are increasing this sum to £10 million cover, which is anticipated as becoming the norm in the future.

Welfare safety

All coaches working in Hertfordshire schools require an enhanced DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) check. This check, previously known as a CRB, must have been carried out within three years of the date of the coaching activity.

This DBS check must be carried out by Hertfordshire County Council. Volunteer coaches can get this check for free; paid coaches will need to pay a fee (currently £44). DBS applications can now be completed online.

Hertfordshire County Council is willing to recognise DBS checks carried out by sports’ governing bodies (NGBs), provided that the NGB is willing to apply the same criteria and to share information. As of September 2013, the county council recognises DBS/CRB checks from the Lawn Tennis Association, UK Athletics, England Bowls, the Angling Development board and BADMINTON England. Thus coaches in those sports who are part of the CoachMark scheme do not require DBS checks from Hertfordshire County Council.


Child protection training

As part of CoachMark, all coaches should have attended a Safeguarding & Protecting Children workshop within the last three years. Suitable workshops are run by some governing bodies of sport, Herts Sports Partnership and Hertfordshire County Council.

We have added this requirement to the core minimum standards that sports coach UK recommend because of the context in which many CoachMark coaches operate, i.e. in a school/club environment with children.

It is, we believe, good practice for all coaches to attend Safeguarding & Protecting Children workshops as they may encounter children or vulnerable adults in almost any coaching situation.

Code of conduct

Coaches should subscribe to either (or both) their sport’s governing body’s code of conduct for coaches, or to sports coach UK’s Code of Practice for Sports Coaches.

To download sports coach UK’s Code of Practice, click here.


To be part of the CoachMark scheme, a coach has to provide the names of two referees. Herts Sports Partnership will ask those two people to confirm their coaching pedigree.