The National Academy is now established as a key part of British Fencing’s landscape. It has developed since its inception in 2009/10 to meet the needs of its audience and grow in a way that enables participation and excellence. Its mission statement as set by the Board of British Fencing was to deliver Olympic medals by 2024.
In reaching for this goal the National Academy originally ran two national training days and a summer residential camp. Three regional centres were also set up in Brunel, Birmingham and SUNEE (Sports Universities North East England).
Each centre was tasked to deliver to the talented fencers in the country. Over the past two years the National Academy has grown the regional delivery to now include three additional centres in Bristol, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
These training opportunities have meant that the National Academy has worked with over 300 individual fencers and over 50 members of staff on a regular basis. In August 2012 the National Academy summer camps took place in three locations with over 170 fencers involved. International collaboration meant that fencers from all weapons got the benefit of training with fencers from abroad.
The National Academy has played an important role in attracting funding through the AASE (Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence) programme. This now enables 40 athletes every year to gain a Level 3 qualification in fencing whilst developing the skills and experience required to become an elite athlete. This funding is in addition to that from Sport England and Beazley that the National Academy receives to deliver its operations.
As part of it on-going development and based on observations, consultation and feedback from key stakeholders within British Fencing the following changes will be made to the National Academy moving forwards:-
The National Academy will now focus solely on national sessions and setting standards
We recognise that the amount of training and the opportunities that we offer to our most talented fencers has been diluted by the number of fencers taking part in the National and Regional sessions. The amount of time and resource that we have been able to spend with our top fencers has been too small. So to address this the National Academy will now focus solely on setting standards and on National sessions only.
The National Academy will become the single delivery mechanism for talent development consisting of:
• Training camps
• Other training opportunities
• Designated competitions
• Education opportunities
National Academy Regions will become Regional Hubs
This means that the remit of the regional hubs will be more about development and not just talent development. The regional hub will be able to run talent clinics with the National Academy setting the standards. These clinics will be open to all ambitious young fencers and will give them the opportunity to see the standards they need to achieve. Regions will be able to identify talented fencers and direct them towards the National Academy. For these talent clinics fencers will apply to the region and pay them directly.
The Regions will have more input into their regional squads
This means they will be able to run these activities as they like alongside and with National Academy clinics. We would envisage the four England regions that have set up National Academy centres will continue to run talent clinics in the same way as they now run National Academy training days.
Regional Hubs will deliver more than talent development
Regions will take on some of the developmental functions that the National Academy was originally set up to do (workforce and club development) such as training and running courses for coaches, referees, armourers, team managers, etc. British Fencing, England Fencing and the relevant regional committee will manage this process. The regions will have support and funding from British and England Fencing including the funding of lead officers to oversee the development programme.
AASE (Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence)
AASE will be administered, delivered and assessed centrally and as a separate function to any regional delivery. Regions may still be involved with on-going monitoring of fencers on the AASE programme.
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