30/09/2015- Latest News

The Development Team’s mission is to enable people to access a fencing experience that is right for them at that moment in their life.

In order to achieve this, we will partner with organisations and customer groups to effectively reach and engage new participants to explore and enjoy new fencing opportunities. We will also ensure that our initiatives are joined up across all areas of BF including Events, Talent and the World Class Programme.

Here is an update on our current focus areas and priorities:

1.  We are working with a small number of Higher Education (HE) Institutes to design and test new participation products. The most successful products will then be rolled out across the HE sector from 2016.  As part of this work we have:

 –  Selected six universities to deliver innovative new fencing initiatives, with ideas and content being generated by the student themselves. This gives us practical insight and learnings  to enable the development of new fencing offers that specifically appeal to students.

–  Partnered with three universities in London (LSBU, LSE + UAL) to develop a 10-week sabre ‘drop in’ experience to increase participation amongst more creative students and those interested gaming. This is directly linked to our 2014 Insight work which told us that fencing attracts ‘creatives’ and ‘gamers’.

–  Engaged with Nottingham Trent University to encourage computer science students to ‘Hack’ into Fencing by delivering 10 weeks of sabre and involve the students in creating new offers tailored for the Alternative (Gaming) market.

2.  We are also working with London Youth and The Scouts Association and together with our work in Universities we are aiming to engage over 2,500 young people in the next few years in a fencing experience that appeals to them. To do this we are currently:

–  Undertaking further analysis using the test projects we started in 2014 of which are still running. This will be used to develop customised fencing experiences aimed at Scouts and other young people.

–  Working with London Youth to deliver a co-creation event in October to design a fencing experience that appeals to young people in London.

3.  We are creating a coaching development programme that; 1) empowers and supports a network of coaches and leaders that will help grow the sport at a grass root level, and 2) leads coaching excellence at every stage of the coach pathway which is central to the delivery of a highly successful world-class fencing programme. Over the last few months we have:

–  Undertaken a formal review of the current British Fencing coaching development programme, and are now starting to prioritise the changes to be made to the programme. For example, widening the current coaching pathway to incorporate the development and nurturing of coaches and leaders to support the emerging fencing participation programmes outlined above.

–  Reviewed the current coach education workforce and identified areas for improvement.

–  Started to develop the draft BF Coaching Strategy. 

The Coaching Development Manager has been out and about meeting coaches and visiting existing coach education sessions to help with our review and make plans for the future.

4.  We have been spending time reviewing the Development services and products with a view to producing a business recommendation report containing opportunities to ensure these products and services the can be financially sustainable in the future. As part of this work we have:

–  Undertaken a formal internal and external review of all BF Development services and products, including engagement with existing and potentially new suppliers.

–  Started to prioritise changes to be made to the current portfolio of products and services and subsequently prepare a report for BF sign off, with a view to implementing changes from early 2016.

5.  The Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) programme continues to be a success. The AASE Framework set by SkillsActive is designed to directly measure the athlete’s ability to apply themselves to “professional” development in their chosen sport, covering technical, tactical, physical and mental skills and abilities, as well as wider life skills such as lifestyle organisations, career planning, communication and working with others, health & safety and nutrition. Our delivery partner for this programme is South Gloucestershire & Stroud College in Bristol and we are delighted that for the first time AASE is on the UCAS tariff for 2017 university entrance. Recently we have been:

–  Working with the cohort of AASE fencers who will finish their course in January 2016. These fencers have done multiple training camps including a 10-day international course in Hungary & 14-day course in Tenerife.

–  Working with the new AASE recruits for 2015 to create new links and partnerships between the AASE programme and the WCP Talent programme.

Finally, whilst not a member of the Development Team, but an invaluable member of staff at British Fencing, our Events Manager has been delivering a portfolio of National and International competitions, as well as corporate/pop up events.  Current priorities include:

–  Increasing opportunities for British fencers to compete against international opponents on home soil.

–  Expanding the international portfolio to cover all 6 weapons (currently only hitting 4, missing Men’s Epee and Women’s Foil).

–  Improving consistency across all events by piloting an online competition registration system (in design stage with web developers)

–  Developing a “Fair Play” scheme to reward not just competitive success in terms of results, but rather rewarding those who are following the British Fencing values of Honesty, Respect and Excellence.

For further information please contact Gabby Williams, Development Director, or for Events specifically, contact Katie Rhodes.

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