Communication with older pupils

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Andrew Zigmond
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Location: Harrogate

Communication with older pupils

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:56 pm

As most people know I run a club for older pupils in Harrogate. Progress is slow but steady; I have nine players but all show promise. Even better I now have a couple of teenagers.

Over the years we have had the odd junior at the Harrogate Chess Club. When approaching them to play in matches my rule of thumb was always to deal with the parents (`Mrs Bloggs, would Joe like to play for the C Team this Saturday`) until they turned 13 at which point I'd ring and ask to speak to Joe directly. Obviously in 2017 everything has moved online and kids are very social media savvy. So, is there a safe way to communicate with teenagers online while ensuring I'm protecting both them and myself? I should add that I decided long ago that I won't allow young players (and their parents, unless I come to know them well) sccess to my personal facebook.
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Michael Farthing
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Re: Communication with older pupils

Post by Michael Farthing » Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:13 pm

I would say that you shouldn't communicate directly with juniors by Email or social media without the parents knowing and approving. I have been quite surprised how cautious parents can be about this. Of course, if you feel unsure of the junior then the parental approval is still not sufficient. I'm sad to have to say this because I grew up happily in a world where none of this applied - but then I grew up in a world inhabited by Jimmy Saville.

LawrenceCooper
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Re: Communication with older pupils

Post by LawrenceCooper » Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:21 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:As most people know I run a club for older pupils in Harrogate. Progress is slow but steady; I have nine players but all show promise. Even better I now have a couple of teenagers.

Over the years we have had the odd junior at the Harrogate Chess Club. When approaching them to play in matches my rule of thumb was always to deal with the parents (`Mrs Bloggs, would Joe like to play for the C Team this Saturday`) until they turned 13 at which point I'd ring and ask to speak to Joe directly. Obviously in 2017 everything has moved online and kids are very social media savvy. So, is there a safe way to communicate with teenagers online while ensuring I'm protecting both them and myself? I should add that I decided long ago that I won't allow young players (and their parents, unless I come to know them well) sccess to my personal facebook.
I tend to communicate with parents until advised that I should contact the son/daughter direct.

Obviously e-mail allows you to copy in parents and player. I only phone if I've not had a reply or something urgent close to a weekend occurs but would speak to the parent initially.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Communication with older pupils

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:40 pm

Thank you for the replies. I should add that I'm only talking about 13 years old upward and for now only in exceptional circumstances. You've got to balance safeguarding with the fact that kids of that age are starting to become more independent and react against being treated like a child. I certainly resented it when I was that age. But I would take each student individually and make sure their parents were happy with it.

Incidentally I do have a 16 year who has started coming to the adult chess club. He made the initial email enquiry himself and I've subsequently included him on emails about upcoming events and selection for a match without thinking anything of it.
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Chris Fegan
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Re: Communication with older pupils

Post by Chris Fegan » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:14 am

Andrew Zigmond has said the following on this Forum

'You've got to balance safeguarding with the fact that kids of that age are starting to become more independent and react against being treated like a child."

This is most certainly NOT the case and is a very dangerous approach to take as Safeguarding is EVERYTHING nowadays and all other aspects come a very long way behind. I suggest you get some advice from professionals in the field of Safeguarding before you go any further with your proposed project.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Communication with older pupils

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sat Sep 23, 2017 2:16 pm

Before this gets out of hand I would like to clarify the following points.

My `project` is a dedicated club for players aged 11-18 (in practice the oldest at present is 13) so they are not forced to either learn with eight year olds or go to the austere adult club. It is run by myself and another volunteer; we are both fully DBS checked to work with young people. The club is signed up to the ECF child protection policy. I also help out at the main junior chess club locally, run by an extremely experienced teacher and coach whose advice is readily available. The feedback from parents has been very positive although I am striving to do better. I keep the parents regularly updated and this year there will be a lot more going on for the older age group than there has been in previous years. I also ask my players (verbally) for their thoughts on how the club could be improved - it is their club and they are entitled (within reason) to have their say.

A couple of weeks ago I did ask the group whether any of them would be interested in being selected for the Harrogate Chess Club C Team. Four hands went up, including the two thirteen year olds. They won't be involved overnight as I need to teach them how to notate for starters. Losing a C Team player at the last minute is the only circumstance I might need to contact one of the players at short notice.

This post was seeking to ask experienced coaches whether there was any precedent for controlled communication through social media (and let's face it - everybody uses it these days). I certainly wouldn't do it without the parents knowing. From Michael Farthing and Lawrence Cooper's replies it seems there isn't so end of discussion. It goes without saying that safeguarding is the single biggest concern - at the same time I was quite sensitive to be being patronised as youngster so I'm determined not to do it to the lads I coach.

EDIT - a few minor edits for grammar.
Last edited by Andrew Zigmond on Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
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Michael Farthing
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Re: Communication with older pupils

Post by Michael Farthing » Sat Sep 23, 2017 2:31 pm

Well perhaps you interpret my post as suggesting that I have more experience than I have! I was more saying precisely what you have said: parents need to be on-side. Also, I was not intending to suggest that contacting juniors my social media is always a no-no even if the parents can't automatically see it: more that the parents know it is going on and have expressed their trust in you. I do think that an important part of teenage years is the opportunity to build independent relationships with adults and a safe environment in which that can take place should be praised.

Michael Flatt
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Re: Communication with older pupils

Post by Michael Flatt » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:41 pm

The Public Liability Insurance offered to clubs by the ECF has specific recommendations regarding Safeguarding of Children (individuals of less than 18 years old).

One of the requirements is to appoint a Safeguarding Officer to whom you should refer any Safeguarding concerns.

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