4th October 2021

UK Athletics Development Team – Update from Mark Munro

As a regular feature the development team will be keeping the athletics community up to date with key work and progress wherever relevant. This update is a general update in respect of the work across the Development Team, but as projects evolve there will also be more specific updates in each of the areas within the directorate which include Coaching Development, Officials, Safeguarding, Clean Athletics, Facilities (including TrackMark) and Rules.

We would like to thank the whole athletics community for their continued efforts over the last period, particularly given the challenges we continue to face with Covid and a return to sport. We have seen a return to club athletics for the majority of the sport and a great amount of work in re-engaging new volunteers and coaches, as well as attracting new people. Event organisers (including rather importantly, officials) have delivered fantastic events despite the various restrictions across the UK, and we have witnessed a significant number of events delivered over the summer months.

However, the impact of Covid on the sport should not be underestimated and whilst there are many positives, we still face a challenge across a number of facilities in respect of access and maintenance. Whilst the number of competition opportunities across most disciplines has been plentiful, the number of athletes competing is down depending on the specific event disciplines. As such, as a sport, we must pull together and support each other over the next 12 months, and as UKA we will continue to work with the home nations to support wherever possible.

Following updates are available:

Coaching Development
Clean Athletics

Coaching Development

From April we have undertaken a widespread consultation (over 400 coaches have been involved in direct conversations) in preparation for a UK-wide coaching strategy for the sport. This included a coaching survey to all licensed coaches, followed up by over 20 focus group sessions across all disciplines, as well as liaising with the Athletes’ Commission, numerous individual conversations and discussions with club representatives. The consultation also included a desk-based analysis of licensed coaches and coaches listed on Power of 10. We have also begun the process of analysing the longitudinal trends in athlete performances by event by age group and by sex to help us identify a whole host of priority areas.
The draft Coaching Strategy has now been agreed by the UK Coaching Working Group, and will be finalised over the coming weeks and communicated to everyone, along with key actions and projects for the short term.
Jackie Newton has also started (August) as the Head of Coaching Development within the Development Team. Jackie can be contacted via jnewton@uka.org.uk .

In what has been a similar process to the coaching strategy a detailed consultation on a new UK-wide Officials’ strategy has also taken place with the officials’ community. Again, an officials’ survey was distributed to all licensed officials, there were a considerable number of focus group sessions, that all included discussions with clubs, event organisers and the Athletes’ Commission. There were discussions with the various Celtic nations’ officials’ committees and commissions as well as the county officials’ secretaries in England. All in, discussions with more than 300 officials have taken place during the period. The desk-based analysis also included licensed officials as well as information collated in respect of active officials.
The draft Officials Strategy has been agreed by the UK Officials’ Working Group as well as the UKA Technical Advisory Group and should be circulated before the end of the month and launched in November.
All Officials should have been contacted with a ‘save the date’ with the UKA annual Officials’ Conference taking place on the 31st of October. Following discussions, it was agreed that it would be held virtually this year with a view to return to face to face next year.
We are also grateful for the expertise and input of the Technical Advisory Group at UKA and they held their latest meeting on the 24th September. It was agreed at the meeting that the TAG minutes would be made publicly available more swiftly, where previously the minutes were agreed and signed off at the following meeting.

Clean Athletics
There has been a change in leadership at UKA with David Herbert moving on to a new role and David Walsh has been appointed as the new Clean Athletics Manager from 4th October. David’s contact email is dwalsh@cleanathletics.org.uk .
There is a new UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) framework being developed at present and that will result in a review of the UKA Clean Athletics Strategy in 2022 and will be circulated accordingly.
As well as continuing to evolve and improve the systems that support and educate athletes in the talent and World Class Performance Programmes, part of the new strategy and within the UKA operational plan, is to broaden the education and support resources to the wider sport, thus ensuring that everyone can be informed in ensuring our sport is as knowledgeable and clean as it can be.

The vast majority of the sport is aware of the Christopher Quinlan review from 2019-20 and the recommendations that were included. Those recommendations have been met but there remains a considerable amount of work to undertake to ensure this sport is as safe and protected as is possible. The new Safeguarding Team have delivered phenomenal progress in a short space of time and looking to continue that progress over the months ahead, working alongside our home countries partners.
The latest updates on safeguarding can be viewed by following this link.
We are also in the process of recruiting a new Head of Safeguarding following the imminent retirement of Angus Macdonald from the current lead safeguarding officer role. We are extremely grateful for all the work that Angus has committed to UKA after he was brought in from Scottish Athletics to help with the implementation of the Quinlan recommendations, a remarkable effort and progress since this time last year.
Given the high volume of case referrals since we launched the new reporting portal, MyConcern, we have now added a third safeguarding case officer in the last month, and we are delighted that former Police Detective with a specialism in safeguarding, Anthony Shaw has joined us.

The biennial rules review consultation is well underway and we are grateful for the proposals submitted for rule changes for 2022.
The UKA Rules Group is in the process of reviewing all proposals and seeking expert advice where appropriate and required.
Following the review of proposals, final proposals will be submitted to the UKA Board for their consideration and sign off in December with publication in February 2022.
We will also be discussing potential worldwide rules changes for consideration with World Athletics as part of this review process.
As ever, grateful to the expert knowledge of John Temperton and the UKA Rules group for their efforts and expertise in pulling this process all together.

Facilities is obviously a very busy area just now, particularly with the return to athletics from Covid and the challenges that causes and we continue to support clubs, event organisers and facility operators where appropriate.
We are grateful to England Athletics for the sharing of Ed Hunt as the UKA Facilities lead, as well as his role with England. Ed can be contacted at ehunt1@uka.org.uk .
As per the previous communication the compliance requirement for competition facilities to be TrackMark accredited has been extended to 31st March 2023. This is to allow facility operators to be supported in a return from Covid and to help support competition providers. However, work is certainly ongoing and since the introduction of TrackMark, we have now seen an investment of over £10M in UK facilities which is extremely positive, but also demonstrates the state of an ageing stock of athletics facilities.
In order to help clubs and competition providers, we are developing a TrackMark directory that will enable everyone to review the current stock of facilities and where they are in the accreditation process. We are also considering effective systems on how the athletics community can report back any concerns on facilities as well.
Along with England Athletics and the other home nations, UKA will be providing a series of workshops over the coming 12 months and they will be confirmed and announced shortly.