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Annex E: Statutory guidance - Regulated activity (children) - Supervision of activity with children which is regulated activity when unsupervised

This statutory guidance on the supervision of activity with children, which is regulated activity when unsupervised, is also published separately on GOV.UK.


This document fulfils the duty in legislation [i],[ii] that the Secretary of State must publish statutory guidance on supervision of activity by workers with children, which when unsupervised is regulated activity. This guidance applies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It covers settings including but not limited to schools, childcare establishments, colleges, youth groups and sports clubs.


For too long child protection policy has been developed in haste and in response to individual tragedies, with the well intentioned though misguided belief that every risk could be mitigated, and every loophole closed. The pressure has been to prescribe and legislate more. This has led to public confusion, a fearful workforce and a dysfunctional culture of mistrust between children and adults. This Government is taking a different approach.


We start with a presumption of trust and confidence in those who work with children, and the good sense and judgement of their managers. This guidance applies when an organisation decides to supervise with the aim that the supervised work will not be regulated activity (when it would be, if not so supervised). In such a case, the law makes three main points:

  • There must be supervision by a person who is in regulated activity[iii]
  • The supervision must be regular and day to day; and
  • The supervision must be “reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure the protection of children”.

The organisation must have regard to this guidance. This gives local managers the flexibility to determine what is reasonable for their circumstances. While the precise nature and level of supervision will vary from case to case, guidance on the main legal points above is as follows.


Supervision by a person in regulated activity/regular and day to day: supervisors must be in regulated activity themselves [iv]. The duty that supervision must take place “on a regular basis” means that supervision must not, for example, be concentrated during the first few weeks of an activity and then tail off thereafter, becoming the exception not the rule. It must take place on an ongoing basis, whether the worker has just started or has been doing the activity for some time.


Reasonable in the circumstances: within the statutory duty, the level of supervision may differ, depending on all the circumstances of a case. Organisations should consider the following factors in deciding the specific level of supervision a person will require:

  • Ages of the children, including whether their ages differ widely;
  • Number of children that the individual is working with;
  • Whether or not other workers are helping to look after the children;
  • The nature of the individual’s work (or, in a specified place [167] such as a school, the individual’s opportunity for contact with children);
  • How vulnerable the children are (the more they are, the more an organisation might opt for workers to be in regulated activity); and
  • How many workers would be supervised by each supervising worker.

An organisation is not entitled to request a barred list check on a worker who, because they are supervised, is not in regulated activity.


Volunteer, in a specified place

Mr Jones, a new volunteer, helps children with reading at a local school for two mornings a week. Mr Jones is generally based in the classroom, in sight of the teacher. Sometimes Mr Jones takes some of the children to a separate room to listen to them reading, where Mr Jones is supervised by a paid classroom assistant, who is in that room most of the time. The teacher and classroom assistant are in regulated activity. The headteacher decides supervision is such that Mr Jones is not in regulated activity.

Volunteer, not in a specified place

Mr Wood, a new entrant volunteer, assists with the coaching of children at his local cricket club. The children are divided into small groups, with assistant coaches such as Mr Wood assigned to each group. The head coach oversees the coaching, spends time with each of the groups, and has sight of all the groups (and the assistant coaches) for most of the time. The head coach is in regulated activity. The club’s managers decide whether the coach’s supervision is such that Mr Wood is not in regulated activity.

Employee, not in a specified place

Mrs Shah starts as a paid activity assistant at a youth club. She helps to instruct a group of children and is supervised by the youth club leader who is in regulated activity. The youth club’s managers decide whether the leader’s supervision is such that Mrs Shah is not in regulated activity.

In each example, the organisation uses the following steps when deciding whether a new worker will be supervised to such a level that the new worker is not in regulated activity:

  • Consider whether the worker is doing work that, if unsupervised, would be regulated activity. (Note: If the worker is not engaging in regulated activity, the remaining steps are unnecessary. If the worker is engaging in regulated activity the remaining steps should be followed);
  • Consider whether the worker will be supervised by a person in regulated activity, and whether the supervision will be regular and day to day, bearing in mind paragraph 4 of this guidance;
  • Consider whether the supervision will be reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure the protection of children, bearing in mind the factors set out in paragraph 4 of this guidance above; and if it is a specified place such as a school, and
  • Consider whether the supervised worker is a volunteer.

[167] See page 8 of DBS guidance: Regulated activity with children England which can be found at: DBS guidance leaflets
[i.] Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, amended by Protection of Freedoms Act 2012: Schedule 4, paragraph 5A: guidance must be “for the purpose of assisting” organisations “in deciding whether supervision is of such a kind that” the supervisee is not in regulated activity.
[ii.]Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007, Schedule 2, paragraph 5A, is as above on guidance on “supervision” for Northern Ireland.
If the work is in a specified place such as a school, paid workers remain in regulated activity even if supervised.
[iii.]The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 includes provisions for a statutory duty on an organisation arranging regulated activity (under the 2006 Act or 2007 Order, both as amended) to check that a person entering regulated activity is not barred from regulated activity and a standalone barring check. These are yet to be commenced.
[iv.]A volunteer is: in England and Wales, a person who performs an activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit someone (individuals or groups) other than or in addition to close relatives. In Northern Ireland, a volunteer is: a person engaged, or to be engaged, in an activity for a non-profit organisation or person which involves spending time unpaid (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses) doing something which amounts to a benefit to some third party other than, or in addition to, a close relative.