SwordMark Scotland Launches

Scottish Fencing is proud to announce the launch of SwordMark Scotland, an initiative to support the development of strong, successful clubs, which in turn, will support the growth of fencing in Scotland.  New fencers need to be nurtured and guided into the appropriate participation pathway, whether it be at a performance or recreational level.  Clubs are the main focus of the pathway, and Scottish Fencing would like to encourage clubs to strive to be the best they can be.  Accredited clubs will be part of a network of quality fencing clubs across Scotland and will receive national recognition by Scottish Fencing, other organisations and parents as a club that is committed to high standards and is child-friendly and a safe, efficient club.

SwordMark Scotland is a quality standard for all clubs affiliated with Scottish Fencing, excluding school or university clubs.  There are three levels of status – ‘Standard’, ‘Advanced’ and ‘Super Club’, covering four areas:

  • Club Management
  • Protection of Vulnerable Groups and Duty of Care
  • Health and Safety
  • Fencing Development

What does this mean?

The first three areas of assessment – Club Management, Protection of Vulnerable Groups & Duty of Care and Health & Safety – have a set of requirements which are the same across all clubs for ‘Standard’ status.  ‘Advanced’ status has a few additional requirements.  Compliance in these areas will demonstrate to fencers, fencers’ parents, facility landlords, local councils, sports councils, education authorities, sportscotland, Scottish Fencing and any potential funders of the club’s activities that the club has robust policies and procedures in place to provide a safe environment in every respect and that the club is managed in a thorough and professional manner.

The other area of assessment – Fencing Development – has certain minimum standards in order to achieve ‘Standard’ status, but also offers the potential for clubs to demonstrate their growth and development through achievement of ‘Advanced’ or ‘Super Club’ status.


How does a club gain a SwordMark Scotland award?

Gaining a SwordMark Scotland award should not be too onerous for clubs – ‘Standard’ status requirements cover many things that a club should already be doing.  Clubs that are interested in gaining the award of SwordMark Scotland should initially complete a notification of interest form.  Scottish Fencing will then contact the named representative to arrange an initial visit to discuss the club’s current status, give guidance on the specific requirements, and agree an action plan.  The club will then go through a self-assessment process, using the SwordMark Scotland worksheet.  On verification by the National Development Officer, the club will receive the award, and the SwordMark Scotland status will remain valid for 3 years from the award date.


What are the benefits of gaining a SwordMark Scotland award?

Each club that registers for and gains a SwordMark Scotland award will receive dedicated support from Scottish Fencing National Development Officer to assist the club in various areas, such as meeting the SwordMark Scotland accreditation criteria, linking with local authority and other organisations and club development planning.  Scottish Fencing will give accredited clubs priority promotion via Scottish Fencing media platforms and clubs will be eligible to use the SwordMark Scotland logo on their website and promotional material.  There will also be training opportunities for club officials offered at reduced or no cost.


Club Management – some examples of requirements

‘Standard’ Status

  • An inclusive Constitution / Articles / Memorandum / Trust Deed (depending on the corporate nature of the club.

This will determine, amongst other things

  • Club Officials and their roles and job descriptions
  • The need for regular meetings and recording of all procedures
  • Equality Policy
  • Affiliation to Scottish Fencing
  • Membership System
  • Appropriate Insurance, in addition to insurance benefits from Scottish Fencing Membership
  • Data Protection Policy

‘Advanced’ Status

  • Strategy and Operating Plan
  • Policies and Procedures for Financial Management
  • Welcome Pack / Club Handbook


Protection of Vulnerable Groups and Duty of Care – some examples of requirements

‘Standard’ Status

  • Child Protection Policy
  • Child Protection Officer, who has had appropriate training
  • Procedures for Responding to Concerns and Recording of Incidents
  • Suitable Recruitment and Screening Procedures and training for Volunteers and Staff
  • Maintains a record of PVG Scheme Membership for all relevant Volunteers and Staff
  • Code of Conduct to cover Coaches, Fencers, Staff and Parents
  • Maintains a secure Database of Contact Details of Parents/Carers and emergency contacts/medical information for all Young People

‘Advanced’ Status

  • Has representatives that have attended Sports Coach UK “Coaching Children and Young People” workshop
  • Disciplinary Procedure


Health and Safety – some examples of requirements

‘Standard’ Status

  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Health and Safety Officer
  • Access to First Aid Equipment and an appropriately qualified person
  • Risk Assessment procedures
  • Procedures for Dealing with and Recording of Injuries, Incidents and Emergencies
  • Regular checks on all Club Equipment
  • Up-to-date Register of Members with relevant medical conditions, emergency contacts and other necessary information
  • Maintain an Attendance Register at club sessions


Fencing Development – some examples of requirements

A Club is not simply a place to fence. At the very least, the Club should offer some structure for instruction at group and individual level and should have the capability to accommodate ad hoc beginners. More ambitious, or better-resourced clubs will offer structured performance development programmes for groups, appropriate to their LTAD (long-term athlete development) with planned, monitored and supported individual training and competition programmes.  They will also offer regular beginners classes The ultimate fencing programme will also extend to the provision of regular and structured conversion courses from plastic to metal fencing at the early learner end of the spectrum, to “Whole athlete” (S&C/sport psychology) support at the high performance end. Of course, it is recognised that it will not be feasible – either because of resources or because of location constraints – for all clubs to aspire to the most comprehensive fencing programme.

Fencing Development is broken into three sections – Fencing Programme, Coaches and Officials and Engagement with the Wider Community.

‘Standard’ Status

  • Offers some form of structured group training exercises
  • Offers individual lessons
  • Offers access for members at least once per week
  • Operates with qualified Coaches for all age-groups – all Coaches and Assistant Coaches must be on the British Fencing Coach Register
  • Is able to accommodate a beginner, turning up at the club, with a basic, but structured introduction to fencing

‘Advanced’ Status

  • Offers structured group training exercises to various ability groups
  • Performance fencers will work with coaches who will advise on and support their individual training and competition programme
  • Offers access for members at least twice per week
  • Has public profiles in place for all Coaches and Officials
  • Has defined and implemented a CPD Programme for Coaching Staff
  • Coaches and Officials have attended a Positive Coaching Scotland Workshop
  • Incorporates Referee Training at all ability and age groups
  • Offers and promotes regular beginners’ classes to various ages

‘Super Club’ Status

  • Has several high-level coaches and significant numbers of performance fencers with a structured individual performance programme
  • Provides, either directly or indirectly, adequate provision for its fencers in appropriate support services (S&C / Sports Psychology / Nutrition)
  • Offers access for members three or more times per week
  • Manages an outreach programme – either through its own coaches or satellite club – introducing beginners to fencing in primary schools, or in the club, and offers a progression pathway to metal fencing.


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