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2006 Minutes - Teachers Meeting

Held in the Crystal Suite, Crystal Palace NSC, Wednesday 22 nd March, 2006 at 3.30pm.

Present: Brian Howes (Chairman), Keith Smith (C.O. & Whitgift), Kate Smith (Hon. Secretary & Lady Eleanor Holles), Jon Milner (Hon. Treasurer & Wimbledon High), Nick Chapman (Accommodations & Warwick, Alice Ottley), Tom Kennedy (Committee &Westminster), Abigail Ball (Elizabeth College), Martyn Collier (Warwick), Dennis Cruse (Tonbridge), Mary Harris (Cheltenham Ladies College), Mark Harrison (Bradfield), Alys Langdale (Bromsgrove), Maggie Lloyd-Jones (Hymers), Peter Northam (King Edward's Birmingham), Stuart Scorgie (Clifton College), Jonathan Seath (Royal Belfast), Marek Stepien (City of London), Mavis Thornton (Arnold), Manola Toschi-Restivo (Bishop Challoner), Eliot Williams (Millfield).

• The minutes of the meeting of 16th March 2005 were approved.

Matters arising:

• Floor manager re safety - had not been progressed this year.

• The Christie Trophy had been declared non-repairable but JM had managed to find someone to do the work and it was now back in a presentable state, and in fact would be awarded this evening.

• BH expressed his thanks to all those who had come forward to referee this year. Also personal thanks to JM for his work on the website and co-ordinating this year's entries. Thanks also to TK for hosting our committee meetings through the year and to NC for yet again co-ordinating the hostel accommodations. Also his thanks to Barry and Joan Paul for their continued support of the championships and the donation of prizes for all our individual winners.

Trophies: The committee had made the decision to try to bring some parity for the girls' team events in the number of trophies available. Whilst one trophy had been donated for a boys' event (The Whitgift Cup for the highest points total in the three Boys' Mount-Haes weapons), there were three new girls' team trophies. The Moore family had donated the Moore Shield (for second place overall in the Girls' team event) and the committee had purchased two. These were the Langton Cup (most improved points total over previous year) and the Crystal Palace Plate (third place overall in the Girls' team event).

BH took this opportunity to express his thanks to Graham Langton for his 33 years involvement and continuing support of the championships.

JM explained to those present that there were still “vacancies” for several events and invited donations of trophies to fill those places.

Entries: The total number of entries had increased again this year by just under 4% to 1588. Of these, just under 72% were entries to boys' events. A summary sheet is attached.

The majority of schools had paid their entry fees on time. A small number had thought that entries were “provisional” and had not paid the full fees initially, saying fencers had been withdrawn. However, all fees had been received before the start of the championships.

Update on Crystal Palace: further works to the floor of the main arena and north balcony had been carried out in October '05, although a number of areas of damage still needed attention. Greenwich Leisure Ltd now had a contract to run the facilities through to 2012. A new sports centre (detailed planning underway) would be built within the park, but the existing centre would remain open until the new facility was complete (anticipated 2010/2011). £1.2 million of works was about to commence on refurbishing changing rooms and toilet areas and creating disabled access from a new entrance on the east balcony. A further £2 million of works to windows and repainting is also to be carried out. This will not include a proposed screen between the pool area and the rest of the centre. It is proposed to look at the ventilation system to see if an “air wall” can be created to keep warm, humid air in the pool area.

Floor space: the discussion turned to floor space and the encroachment of fencing bags and kit. The four corner pistes in the main arena were particularly affected. Could alternate storage be found? KS commented that the problem with this was theft from unguarded bags and that fencers also needed their kit to be reasonably close at hand. Numbers were the problem! 10 years ago with only 600 entries over the three days there had been a danger of the championships disappearing, but with numbers now approaching 1600 we had a new set of problems to deal with. Use of the executive boxes was suggested, and they had indeed been used in the past but had become a bone of contention between schools, with suggestions of privilege and elitism. Use of the west balcony would also create problems. It is quite narrow and usually blocked with equipment at the north end. With the control room and computer systems at the south end we do not want a constant stream of people in that area. It was suggested that next year the lower three sections of the seating to the east side of the arena are not pulled out. This would give a few more feet of space to work with. Also hazard tape should be used to mark a clear walkway on the east balcony.

• KS spoke about the significant number of students who now come back to referee. By introducing payment, the numbers returning meant the competition ran much more quickly. Most were reasonably competent and there were fewer problems of bias. They also reduced the need for schools to provide referees themselves, but he did thank two of the larger schools, which came to the control box on the first morning with a list of referees. The use of walkie-talkies by floor-managers in the arena, north balcony and in the downstairs corridor (rooms G1-G3) had also improved communication back from the piste to the control room and missing fencers were more easily informed where to go.

CRBs and Risk Assessment: All members of the committee and those adults helping with the organisation of the championships now have CRB clearance. The assumption is that all teachers and coaches working with schools will have clearance as well. The committee had decided that it would be difficult to ask all those volunteering to referee to have clearance as well, considering we were in a public venue. ML-J did comment that short-term volunteers could complete a self-declaration form. BH spoke of a request received for information to complete a risk assessment. This process was now a regular part of the teachers' job in organising any visit. Crystal Palace have standard forms for the arena and the lodge. The committee can produce a sheet on the scoring apparatus and equipment provided by Leon Paul . NC asked whether this information could be provided on the website to allow teachers to “copy and paste” information as required, so SS offered to provide a standard format for providing the information required. JM agreed to add this to the (short) list of items on further improvements to the website.

• As KS had to return to the control box he expressed his thanks to ML-J and Eileen Buist for their help with check-in, and to Rodney And Jean Francis for running the competition computer. The meeting in return thanked him for his efforts.

Floor Manager re safety (see matters arising): As a number of fencers had appeared this year in non-standard kit, BH asked all schools and coaches to ensure that their fencers were safely attired and equipped in line with BFA requirements. Next year the organisers will ensure that a suitable person undertakes equipment checks at the start of each competition, with the power to exclude fencers whose equipment is not up to the required standard.

BFA memberships: There are still large numbers of fencers turning up at check-in without membership. Whilst we would expect a small number to have forgotten their cards, and these can easily be given clearance, many have not even applied. BH asked teachers to work on reducing these numbers. JM also said that the problem was made worse by many joining just before the championships or on the day of competition. This led to problems the following year because they forgot to renew their membership and with it being so close had no time to receive their cards. With the close of entry being six weeks before the competition date, teachers had plenty of time to ensure their fencers would be current BFA members on the day. NC suggested that we charge a premium to try and dissuade fencers from joining on the day but several present disagreed.

Accommodations: there had been an incident at the Lodge on Tuesday night. NC would be writing to the headmaster of the school involved. He also felt that it was important to strengthen the conditions under which PSFC accepted bookings for the hostel. A discussion followed and those conditions, modified by the discussion, will be made clear on the accommodations paperwork next year.

Dates for 2007: BH asked the meeting whether they were happy to return to Crystal Palace next year and that March 20 th -22 nd had been pencilled in by the committee. DC asked whether it could be one week earlier but the majority were happy with the proposed dates.

Website: the meeting thought that the website was working well. However some changes were requested. The self-assessment information as before. NC asked for the contact e-mail address to be added to the accommodations summary sheet- better to let teachers know their application was okay. Could the entry summary sheet print off in competition order, with a dates/check-in time box? Could other school's contact e-mail addresses be made available? Could there be a forum for discussion? JM agreed to speak to the web-designer about incorporating the suggestions before the next entry open dates in the autumn.

AOB: The provision of more water fountains by Crystal Palace was requested.

Could the PSFC perhaps have a banner, to be hung from the north end balcony?

The meeting closed at 4.45pm.

* after the meeting MT-R offered the donation of a trophy on behalf of Bishop Challoner for the Girls' Mount-Haes events. NC provisionally offered a trophy for the Boy's epee events and ML-J would consider Hymers College donating a trophy to a suitable category for a co-ed school.

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