Letter from Senior Judges Explains Reasons for Resignations

rspba-logoTwo senior pipe band adjudicators who recently resigned their positions within the RSPBA’s Adjudicators’ Panel Management Board (APMB) have written to Piping Press to clarify their position.

Former Convenor John Wilson and Vice Convenor Joe Noble resigned following a decision by the Board not to re-instate newly qualified adjudicator Ian Duncan. Mr Duncan had resigned after a series of correspondence between the board and himself. Mr Duncan is now taking legal advice as to what his next step should be.

In their letter Mr Wilson and Mr Noble state: ‘Some reports seem to have left the impression with some readers that the potential legal complaint, being considered by Ian Duncan, is against us (i.e. John Wilson and Joe Noble).

‘This is not the case, as we continue to be fully supportive of Ian Duncan’s inclusion as a member of the RSPBA Adjudicators’ Panel.

 ‘Our resignations from the positions of Convener and Vice Convener of the Adjudicators’ Panel Management Board were based on the circumstances leading up to Ian Duncan’s letter of resignation from the Panel and the subsequent refusal by a majority of the APMB to accept his written retraction of that resignation, which was received only a few days later.

‘We are of the opinion that a man of Ian Duncan’s stature, having successfully completed his initial training, deserves a place on the RSPBA Adjudicators’ Panel. Regards,

John Wilson and Joe Noble.’

Joe Noble (right) on duty at the World Solo Drumming. To Mr Noble's right is former RSPBA adjudicator Alistair Aitken
Joe Noble (right) on duty at the World Solo Drumming. To Mr Noble’s right is former RSPBA adjudicator Alistair Aitken

The Adjudicators’ Panel is made up of 70+ piping, drumming, ensemble and drum major judges. Members elect seven of their number to hold positions on the Board and to act as office-bearers. Two directors of the RSPBA are also members of the Board making a total of nine.

It should be stressed once more that Mr Wilson and Mr Noble will continue as adjudicators and will be on duty at major championships this summer. The current disagreements will in no way affect the running of minor or major contests during the 2016 season. This point has been made quite clearly by RSPBA Chief Executive Ian Embelton in the initial story broken by Piping Press two days ago.

Despite the recent negative impression readers may have been given about the Panel, we would like to re-dress any imbalance by emphasising the superb work that is being carried out by them. What follows is a summary of former Convenor Wilson’s report to the RSPBA AGM last month. In it he highlights the hard work that is being done for the bands to ensure they get the best possible service from the Panel. This work will continue despite the recent difficulties.

Summary of APMB report to the RSPBA AGM by Convenor John Wilson:

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John Wilson

A great deal of the APMB’s focus last year was concentrated on identifying and training new Piping, Drumming, Ensemble and Drum Major adjudicators. 2015 transpired to be one of the busiest years ever in terms of training potential adjudicators which has now produced additional, approved adjudicator numbers as follows;

2 Piping – 6 Drumming – 6 Ensemble – 2 Drum Majors

In addition, two high-profile, International Piping adjudicators have been appointed and added to the list which, inclusively, now stands at a total of 72 adjudicators. This increase in numbers, especially in the disciplines of drumming and ensemble, generates a much needed injection of variety and flexibility into the allocation process.

The training programme during 2015 effectively produced a 20% growth rate in adjudicator numbers…..The Consultative Pilot Scheme trialled at Belfast and Forres was another area of focus for the APMB during 2015. After consideration of all the positive/negative comments received in subsequent feedback, there remains compelling support to move forward with a second phase of the consultative process.

Apart from the stated objectives behind consultative judging, the potential spin-off from a well-founded consultation process could be regarded as: The creation of a sharper focus on strongly constructive critique sheets; The structured exposure of our adjudicators to the views of colleagues leading to a culture of ‘educating on the job’;The opportunity to identify future aspects of training for adjudicators

The programme of Adjudicator Information Meetings (AIMs) was completed during 2015 with almost full attendance and an extremely high level of participation. These meetings continue to provide adjudicators with an open forum on which to extend their proposals and suggestions on areas for improvement.

2015 – like most other years – was hectic for adjudicators and, apart from the Major Championships, adjudicators had to be allocated to 49 minor contests and eight overseas competitions. Despite the high level of commitment and demand placed on adjudicators, it never ceases to amaze me how our Panel members reliably rise to the task with a level of professionalism for which they should be congratulated.

The ‘Terms of Reference and Code of Practice’ remains a ‘live’ document which has been adjusted on an ongoing basis to meet the changing face of adjudication requirements. One significant change adopted at the Adjudicators’ Panel AGM was the requirement that the Allocation Group should now avoid selecting adjudicators who have ‘immediate family members’ attached to a band participating in a Major Championship final. The proposal for change was presented and unanimously adopted by the AGM on the basis that: this change would bring the RSPBA into line with other affiliated Associations and musical bodies; it was unfair on adjudicators and players, alike, to be exposed to such pressurised situations; the judging process must be able to totally withstand external scrutiny; there is a level of public perception that judging relatives cannot be ‘right’.


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