Surf Coaching: A return to 1:8 Ratios for lessons

Surf Lessons given the green light to resume 1:8 – Coach:Participant ratios

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Surfing England have been regularly updating its Accredited Surf Schools and Member’s with guidance. This has led to the industry reopening in a coordinated way, and most importantly one that is safe and has encouraged Surf Schools to take all required measures to ensure covid compliance.

This is achieved through the hard work of the National Governing Body, and is only possible with the support of our Members. If you are not a Member, please consider joining us. For the remainder of 2020, Surf School Accreditation is discounted to £150 (covers you until 31st December 2020). Email to join us.

Surf Coaches and Individuals can join here. Enhanced Surf Coach Membership is also available which includes insurance for independent coaching, valid for a year from the date you join.

Surfing England can only grow, support and develop surfing in England with the support of our members.

We’ve been actively lobbying the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and in regular communication with Sport England and are stoked to announce that as of today we have the go ahead to resume 1:8, coach:participant ratios.

We know this will make a huge impact to the industry and viability of the surfing businesses and are so pleased to deliver this news ahead of the Summer Holidays.

Please read the below detail to ensure you continue to follow the guidelines and operate in a safe way.

Covid 19 Update:  

Organised participation events: Guidance for Surf School and Clubs 


As part of the phased return to sport, Surfing England has been in discussion with the Department for Digital, Media and Sport as well as Sport England with the aim of providing some clarity for surf schools delivering group surf activities, which we view as organised participation events within guidance for a phased return to sport. 

We understand this means surf coaches running group activities (under the organised participation exemption) are now able to run sessions for up to 30 people including the coach.  For surf lessons, this means returning to ratios up to 1:8.  This also follows the position of the EMDUK, the NGB for group exercise. 

The government position on groups of no larger than 6 remains in other areas, with the sport related exemptions of team sport, organised participation events (where surf lessons sit) and for gyms, leisure centres and pools.   

Surf schools and clubs must operate within the COVID 19 Secure Guidance and the guidance for grassroots sports, gyms and leisure facilities, including the completion of a Covid 19 risk assessment and maintaining a register of all attendees for 21 days in case of infection. 

This change has been enabled by having a proactive National Governing Body giving voice to the needs and concerns of the surf school industry.  Surfing England is funded by it’s members and we encourage any non-accredited schools to consider joining, not just for the direct benefit of being an accredited school, but also to influence and support the future development of English surfing.   

The Government’s 5 Steps for Working Safely  

Practical actions all businesses must take: 

1. You must have a Covid 19 risk assessment in place.    

  • The Surfing England surf school checklist provides useful framework for surf school specific risks and requirements 
  • Make sure you complete in conjunction with your team and your display on your website alongside a completed Covid Secure certificate  

 2. You must have cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in place, this includes for boards and wetsuits. 

  • There is a specific section on maintaining hygiene in the surf school checklist 

 3. Help people to work from home where possible  

  • Although clearly not possible for surf coaches, schools with dedicated admin functions should actively pursue options for those roles to be delivered remotely  

 4. Maintain 2m social distancing where possible 

  • The surf school checklist considers how to maintain social distancing through the surf school operation, which may mean staggering lesson times, additional signage, dedicated waiting spaces and one way systems 

 5. Where it is not possible to be more than 2 meters apart, doing everything practical to reduce the transmission risk 

  • Take a risk based approach, in the first instance, consider whether the activity can be avoided or the time it takes reduced 
  • Consider what physical interventions can be applied, for example PPE or Perspex screens 
  • Consider what process changes you can make, for example staggering lessons or creating separate access points for groups 
  • Consider what behavioural interventions can be applied, for example changing working practice to avoid face to face working 

Specific Guidance for sports and leisure facilities 

There is specific guidance for providers of grassroots sports, gyms and leisure facilities which all surf schools should read and follow the relevant instruction.   The Surfing England surf school checklist has been updated and can be used in conjunction with the guidance to assist you cover off the surf specific points not directly captured by the main guidance.    It is really important you compete your Covid 19 Risk assessments in conjunction with your teams and that you share the results alongside displaying the Covid Secure certificate.  

Section 10 of the guidance for grass roots sports, gyms and leisure facilities has specific guidance for clubs, community sport orgs and working with volunteers. 

Organising outdoor sport and physical activity events 

The government has published guidance on a range of issues core to the delivery of outdoor sport and physical activity participation events. See above link to guidance on grass roots sport and leisure facilities.    The following is copied direct from the guidance for the public on the phased return of outdoor sport and applies specifically to organised participation events. 

As well as the general principles around mitigating risks, the rules on gatherings, and taking full responsibility for the safe delivery of a sporting event, organisers will want to particularly draw on the following in their planning: 

  • operating strictly within government guidance and ensuring event delivery plans are COVID secure 
  • communicating clearly and consistently with all participants and support staff including volunteers 
  • being adaptable to change, for example if a local lockdown were to be necessary 
  • rules on gatherings 
  • test track and trace requirements including recording of participants and officials to facilitate contacting by NHS Test and Trace if needed 
  • maintaining physical and personal hygiene 
  • keeping participants, officials, volunteers, and staff safe 
  • any necessary protective equipment or face coverings for staff 
  • access to temporary or permanent toilets and changing facilities or those with special needs and disabilities 
  • traveling to and from events 
  • use of car parks 
  • restaurants and clubhouses [link here please to relevant guidance] 
  • accessible provision within the site and the facility 

Further guidance: 

The main page which hosts all the relevant sporting guidance is here: 

The Surfing England surf school readiness checklist has been updated (10/07/2020) and should be used in conjunction with the main guidance for grassroots sports, gyms and leisure facilities. 

All other government guidance on Covid 19 is here: 

Our responsibilities   

We all need to assess and manage the risks of Covid 19 and as employers or operators of sports facilities we have legal responsibilities to protect workers, volunteers, customers and users from risk to their health and safety.  This means spending time to understand the guidance, considering the risks they face and doing everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot complete eliminate the risk of Covid 19.   

Whilst we all continue to adapt our processes and procedures to the evolving guidance, water safety must continue to remain the no.1 priority.  If for any reason you feel the usual standards of water safety cannot be met, don’t go out.  

As you make changes to your working practice, we strongly recommend keeping in touch with your insurers, keeping them informed of the guidance you are following and any operational changes you are making to ensure you maintain valid insurance with a suitable level of cover. 

Find your closest Surfing England Accredited Surf School: click here.

If you have further questions, or to find out more about Membership, please get in touch:

To view this information in a downloadable PDF, click here.

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