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SCA Open Boat coaching

Courses & Training

We have a range of courses and training opportunities available across all disciplines of our sport and for beginners through to experienced paddlers. 

Helping other people to enjoy canoeing or kayaking can be extremely rewarding. Whether you are already a coach, want to become a coach or are a paddler and looking for coaching, find out more about becoming a coach in these pages. 

Accredited Prior Learning

British Canoeing recognises that in some instances aspirant coaches or coaches progressing to new qualifications will have prior experience that may enable them to progress to a higher level with holding all of the stated prerequisites.  If you feel you have experience that can be accredited as prior experience refer to the British Canoeing Accredited Prior Learning (APL) notes below.  APL is used mainly to allow coaches access to a British Canoeing training or assessment course where the do not hold the specific prerequisite for that award or role, but hold something else equitable. APL cannot be used to gain an award without successfully completing an assessment. 

Applications are considered by the British Canoeing APL Panel.  Some types of applications should be forwarded to the SCA in the first instance. Please refer to the above guidance notes. 

The APL Service is free to members and will consider other nationally recognised, professional awards, where they are identifiable as being of equal or higher standard.

The APL process has been reviewed and we now offer a more streamlined and efficient process, so candidates should receive a quicker response and can progress their coaching qualifications. There will no longer be monthly meetings of a UK panel, each Home Nation will make a decision based on the evidence supplied.

How to apply:

To apply for APL please visit our online portal and complete the application in the Registrations and Forms section.  Alternatively, if you wish to submit a claim form by post, please download the form below and return. 

Note - if you are applying for APL as part of the Guide Scheme, please visit British Canoeing website for a separate form. This scheme is administered by British Canoeing. 

First Aid

All active Coaches have a responsibility to maintain a current first aid award, to ensure they can look after paddlers in their care. Coaches sign a declaration upon registration for BC Coaching qualifications accepting this responsibility. Holding a valid first aid award is also part of the BC Coach Update Scheme; Coaches who meet the update requirements are recognised by BC as being active and up-to-date.

In order to meet the First Aid requirement all BC Coaches (except Paddlesport Instructor) need a recognised first aid certificate (that meets the required training contact time), recorded on their National Association membership record.  To check your record, visit our online portal. 


Coaching and Development Committee

The SCA Coaching and Development Committee works to provide a strong and supportive network of coaches for everyone who wants to get involved in our sport, whether you are just trying it for the first time, aiming to compete or anything else along the way. Coaches can help you to develop your skills whether you just want to paddle for recreation or are seeking that perfect competition run!

At UK level coaching is lead by the British Canoe Union Coaching Strategy Group (CSG) and Coaching Operations Group (COG). The current SCA representatives to these groups are Doug Cooper and Andy Murray respectively.

Regional Coaching Officers are regionally based volunteers, who also form part of the SCA Coaching Committee. The SCA coaching staff  are responsible for implementing the coaching development plan and managing coaching on a daily basis.

British Canoeing Safety, Performance, Leadership and Coaching awards are provided by registered course providers who meet the pre-requisite requirements of the SCA and BCU.

Regional Forums are a collection of regional coaches who meet to share ;best practice and discuss coaching. Any paddler is welcome to take part.


  • Doug Cooper – Coaching Strategy Group Representative 
  • Liz Cain – Regional Officer Central - appointed until November 2019
  • Calum McNicol - Regional Officer South West and Secretary - appointed until November 2019
  • Steve Frampton - Regional Officer West - appointed until November 2021
  • Andy Murray – Coaching Administration Group Representative, Head of Coaching and Development
  • Kevin Knox - Regional Officer Tayside - appointed until November 2018
  • Poppy Croal - Regional Officer Lothians - appointed until November 2021
  • Lyle Smith – RO Grampian and Shetland and Chair - appointed until November 2020
  • Dave Rossetter - Glenmore Lodge National Centre Representative
  • Kate Duffus and Chris Wilson - Regional Officers Highlands and Islands - appointed until November 2019 and November 2021 respectively
  • Bob Baird - Regional Officer Borders - appointed until November 2019
  • Tam Westwater - Regional Officer Fife - appointed until November 2020

Visit our Contact Us page for contact details. 

Coach Responsibilities

BCU Coaches have a number of responsibilities to ensure the paddlers in their care can enjoy the sport, are treated fairly and are protected from foreseeable harm. When Coaches register for Coaching Awards using the C1 or CR form they sign a declaration agreeing the BCU Coaching Code and respective policies. The BCU/Home Nations have a number of policies that aim to provide guidance for coaches on these responsibilities. Whilst this article does not negate the need to read these policies, we will outline each area to highlight what it means to our coaches. (Together these policies make up the BCU Responsibilities of Coach Pack as mentioned in the BCU UKCC Level 1 and 2 awards).

Duty of Care

Duty of Care is the duty that rests upon an individual or organisation to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure the safety of others. We all have a duty of care to everyone we come into contact with or have an effect on, this responsibility increases as we take on more responsible roles such as being a coach. It also increases in specialist environments if we have a greater level of knowledge or ability than those around us. Duty of Care is a legal commitment to being responsible. It is not something that we can choose, to avoid by writing disclaimers, or something we can duck out of. The British Canoeing Duty of Care policy outlines a general and basic view of our duty of care.

Physical Competency

Coaches need to be fit and able to perform the job. The British Canoeing Statement of Physical Competence requires coaches to declare any medical conditions that may impair their ability to be responsible for the overall safety of others. The declaring of impairments does not necessarily debar a person from coaching; certain working conditions may be established to ensure you can maintain your responsibilities. This helps protect coaches, and is a mechanism by which the British Canoeing can support those individuals with specific medical conditions. If you need to declare a medical condition return the Medical Declaration Form to your Home Nation.

Participants Statement of Fitness

As a coach responsible for others safety it is important to establish that participants are fit to perform. Information may be gathered on booking forms, signing-in sheets, or specific forms. (See note later about guidance on Keeping Records, this includes information about data protection, confidentiality etc).

Coaches Code of Conduct

The British Canoeing Coaches Code of Conduct outlines the behaviour a coach must display to keep children and adults safe from harm. The British Canoeing Coaches Code of Conduct meets National standards for sports coaches across the UK, and sets standards for coaches as well as providing information to participants about what standards are expected. The code of conduct comprise such values as responsibility, humanity, relationships, commitment, co-operation, advertising, integrity, confidentiality, abuse of privileges, competence, personal standards and safety, with regards to a responsibility towards participants, colleagues, the BCU and to society.

Safeguarding and Protecting Children and Vulnerable Adults

All British Canoeing Coaches have a role to play safeguarding the welfare of children and preventing their abuse. We have both a moral and legal obligation to ensure that when given the responsibility for children we provide them with the highest possible standard of care. The SCA provide a number of resources are available to support Coaches, available here. The three key policies are:

  • SCA Child Protection Policy
  • British Canoeing Whistle Blowing Policy
  • British Canoeing Anti Bullying Policy

Child Protection Training Requirements for Coaches

Equal Opportunities policy

The British Canoeing equal opportunities policy aims to ensure that people from all sectors of the Community (irrespective of their age, colour, disability, ethnic origin, race, sexual orientation or gender), have genuinely equal opportunities to participate in canoeing at all levels. The British Canoeing as the governing body for sport takes responsibility for this in ensuring that present and potential members receive equally favourable treatment, but also require coaches working under British Canoeing qualifications to do the same.

Injury Prevention and Manual Handling

This policy provides guidelines for manual handling and risk assessment in relation to paddlesport. This covers good practice for Coaches, e.g. executing rescues, but also responsibilities that coaches have to their participants, e.g. explaining and developing safe lifting techniques for the boats they are using.

First Aid

All Coaches (with the exception of British Canoeing UKCC Level 1 Coaches) are required to hold an appropriate First Aid award to ensure they have the skills to appropriately treat a paddler if they are injured. SCA hold details of this on your membership record – so if you haven’t already please send us a copy. Coaches must also ensure they have access to an appropriate first aid kit whilst coaching.

Responsibility to the environment

As a coach you have a responsibility to protect our environment and to teach others to do the same. We are fortunate to be involved in a sport that allows us to enjoy the wildlife and explore the landscape as an essential part of the canoeist's pleasure for aesthetic, cultural and recreational reasons. The responsible use of canoes and kayaks leaves no trace of passing and causes no erosion, noise or pollution; and is unlikely to have any significant impact on or lasting disturbance to wildlife and the water environment. British Canoeing, as the sport’s governing body in the United Kingdom, recognises that the wildlife and landscape of Britain is a part of our common heritage, and has a clear duty to concern itself with the care of the environment where canoeing takes place. Check out the access and environment pages for more details.

Responsibility for access

Many people taking up canoeing are often surprised to learn that it cannot be assumed they can paddle on any waters deep enough to float a canoe or kayak. .

Keeping Records

One of the responsibilities of the coach is to keep records. Whilst you may not be directly responsible for all of the following records, you may need to collect information about your participants, your sessions, safety, accidents, venues etc. The British Canoeing Coaches code of conduct provides guidance on how to treat this information, including not to divulge it to a third party without the express approval of the participant, (confidentiality does not preclude the disclosure of information, to persons who can be judged to have a “Right to Know”). Coaches also have a responsibility to the Data Protection Act (1998) that states only relevant and necessary information should be held, used only for the purposes stated, not kept for longer than required, secured in a safe place, disposed of securely, and not passed on without consent.


If a coach fails to meet their duty of care and someone becomes injured or suffers loss or damage, they can make a claim against the coach. It is therefore vital that coaches have Third Party Liability insurance to provide cover against claims of negligence. Third Party Liability insurance is included within SCA membership this insurance, covers anything we consider ‘Canoeing activities’, including Coaching Canoeing. It is important that details of any known incidents or injuries that occur to students while undergoing coaching or taking part in canoeing or kayaking activities are reported to the British Canoeing, particularly those involving a personal injury, which may give rise to a subsequent claim. Sharing this information with the British Canoeing will ensure that the information is passed through to British Canoeing’s insurance brokers. Individuals reporting incidents in this way need have no fear or concern about action being taken against them. SCA Members are required to use the British Canoeing Incident Report Form for reporting such events.

Civil Liability for Coaches

Qualified British Canoeing coaches who are current individual members of the SCA  are covered for civil liability under the British Canoeing policy provided that their annual turnover is less than £25,000 per annum; with the following conditions;

  • They can have a trading name
  • They can be a partnership (each partner can turn over up to £25,000).
  • They cannot be a limited company
  • They cannot employ staff