10/08/2015- Latest News

Development Director Update – August 2015

July 2015 was truly the start of what will be an exciting time ahead for the Development Team at British Fencing.  The first step got underway with new staff (James Szymik, Steve Kemp, Virginia Bailey, James Craig) and existing (Neil Brown, Satish Thakuri) coming together for a week-long induction.  Our Events Manager also took part to ensure a joined up approach across British Fencing as we move forward into a new period of delivery.

The induction week included a fencing taster session run by Neil Brown.  There are some images of this session here.

This intense induction event provided a  platform for the Development Team to hit the ground running. Contributions came from the Chief Executive, The World Class Programme, our Media Officer, Sport England and Leon Paul. The team were also treated to a thorough (and very hot!) 3-hour session of fencing at the ETC. The final few days of the induction consisted of a workshop facilitated by a sports development specialist. Starting with the overall BF objectives and Sport England agreed targets, the team worked tirelessly to establish key outputs up until 2017, and more detailed outputs from July to December 2015. The team is currently working on presenting this in a user-friendly way to share with partners and the membership. It is expected to be available by late September 2015.

If you’d like to see the team planning in action, check out the video on our Facebook page.

Following the induction week the team immediately got to work on their delivery plans. Here is a summary of progress made over the last few weeks:

Youth Programme

Virginia has been bringing herself up to speed with and ensuring she has a thorough understanding of the British Fencing Strategy for Growth. This will enable her to deliver against our 3,000 more young fencers target by 2017 through the HE and Youth Programmes.  Work is underway with our partners London Youth and The Scouts Association to deliver insight led opportunities, responding to the needs of young people in youth clubs and in the Scouts, e.g. a co-creation event is underway to gain valuable insight from the Scouts into the type of fencing experience they would like. Formal partnership agreements are being put in place with these partners and a fencing activity will commence in the Autumn.

HE Programme

James has completed a delivery plan to meet the HE Programme participation targets. As part of this he has commissioned a consultant to lead on the development of a 10-week Introduction to Sabre Participation Product which is to be designed to appeal to the fencers in the creative market segments.  Furthermore, James has kick started a project that will be delivered in London Universities between October and December 2015 before launching as a packaged product for all universities to deliver from January 2016.

James has launched a University Participation Fund Project to engage existing fencing clubs – more information can be found here

Earlier this month, James represented British Fencing at the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) conference – an NGB networking event that proved a fantastic opportunity to establish relationships with key institutes looking to expand their fencing offer. 

Business Development

James has started his review of the Development products and services. He has completed an internal review of all existing British Fencing products and services and devised a survey that will be used during the next phase of the review which will focus on external engagement with stakeholders and partners.

Coaching Development

Steve has commenced the Coaching Development review and from initial research has identified several recommendations that will improve the existing programme. For example:

  • Infrastructure changes to begin immediately, such as building a network of the right Coach Educators and Coach Trainers to meet future needs. This will ensure that British Fencing introduces an industry standard quality assurance process.
  • Develop a community coach domain that builds the appropriate network of community coaches and workforce that can effectively help deliver the Youth and HE Programmes.
  • Create a communication framework to ensure regular communication with existing workforce and membership. This will ensure that we importantly utilise the current knowledge and expertise in our sport.

Furthermore Steve will be experiencing first hand our current coaching programme in action by attending courses at Millfield and Stratford-Upon-Avon. Following this a series of consultation activities will take place to, a) share the British Fencing aspirations for the Coaching Development Programme, and b) understand the membership priorities for the programme.

Steve will also be formally engaging with stakeholders such as Sport England and UK Sport, as well as working with internal colleagues and in close partnership with the World Class Programme.

Workforce Programme
Satish has focused his efforts on the co-ordination of courses for the next few months, including a GO/Fence Leaders Course, the usual L1 and L2 at Millfield and Stratford-Upon-Avon.


Neil continued to make final plans for the 2 international events in August, Szombathely and Tenerife.  Szombathely which took place last week saw 13 AASE fencers and 9 others travel to experience the training camp.

Over the next few months, the team will continue to work intensely to deliver against our objectives:

1)    Grow participation through our new HE and Youth Programmes;

2)    Create a fit for purpose Coaching Development Programme;

3)    Be financially sustainable by establishing business efficiencies and identify new opportunities to transform Development into a high performing, sustainable service for the benefit of its members and for the sport.

Such objectives will only be achieved by working through credible and appropriate stakeholders, thereby building a greater sphere of influence across local, regional and national stakeholders in sport.

For further information please contact the Development Director, Gabby Williams.

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