During 2019 and the early part of 2020, a working group of members carried out a thorough independent review of the Performance Pathway Programme for British Orienteering, and considered the future strategy in this area.
The need for this review was partly driven by the significant changes in the funding position: Sport England ceased to give financial support to the Performance (senior) Programme in 2017 and, whilst Sport England funding for the Talent (junior) Programme was secured up until March 2021, it was far from clear that it would continue thereafter. This indicated that for first time in at least 20 years, the British Orienteering Talent and Performance Pathway could be without significant central funding. The need to ensure a suitably robust and resilient performance structure even without such funding – and the corresponding increased dependence upon volunteers in such a model, was central to the review.
(Note: a recent update is that Sport England have been very proactive and helpful in the current Covid-19 situation, and have provisionally confirmed they plan to extend current performance funding levels until March 2022, for many sports including orienteering. British Orienteering and the Board thank Sport England for their flexibility and ongoing support).
The review working group carried out a broad review of the pathway including wide consultation, and produced a report covering the current state of play and highlighting several key future recommendations. The report can be found HERE.
The working group report was reviewed by the Talent and Performance Steering Group and a number of recommendations were made to the Board as a result, which were accepted at the March 4th Board Meeting. These recommendations can be found HERE.
All involved were clear that in recent times we have seen some very impressive international performances from both our senior and our juniors, and that the review has been able to build upon a number of areas of existing strength. British Orienteering and the Board are very grateful to all those who participated in the review consultation exercise, the group chair Mark Saunders, and the rest of the review working group for committing a significant amount of time, knowledge and experience to this work.
The recommendations aim to further develop the strengths of the existing approach, towards a coherent joined-up Performance Pathway which reflects a shared vision understood and bought into by all those involved, volunteers and professionals alike. The British Orienteering Board are pleased to support the recommendations, and have committed support to assist with identified projects within the report implementation phase.
For that next phase, a Transition Overview Group has been established to ensure implementation of the agreed recommendations, and to progress other aspects from the full report. That group is being co-ordinated by British Orienteering Operations Manager, Chris Corke, and is made up of: Mark Saunders, Hilary Palmer, Paul Murgatroyd and Jon Cross. Alongside the implementation of the agreed recommendations, the Talent and Performance Steering Group and British Orienteering Board have also asked this group to consider whether further recommendations are needed to assist with the level and consistency of coaching that athletes receive in different regional areas, and what additional aspects may be required to support the senior team element of the programme.