In addition to the marks ascertained from performance during the Five Star Audit, a maximum of a further 60 marks are available for the written aspect of the Sword of Honour application. Applicants must score a minimum of 45 marks in this section to remain eligible with a minimum of two individual responses being scored within the top mark band (11-15 marks). Submissions become ineligible for a Sword of Honour should any individual responses be scored within the lower mark band (0-5 marks).
With the pass standard set high (45 out of 60), it is important to score well on each question. One or two weak answers will put the pass standard out of reach. As in previous years, the highest-scoring applicants answered all aspects of each question adhering closely to the marking scheme and it was evident that the advice to read the prior year’s Chief Adjudicator’s Report had been taken. This allowed the applicant to submit a much more complete answer and so access the top mark band for each question.
Applicants are again reminded to carefully read the advice in the Chief Adjudicator’s Report from previous years when completing the application, as this report provides helpful insight, comments and direction on what is required for a successful application.
In addition, applicants are reminded that it is imperative that the requirements of the marking scheme are carefully followed in order to gain the marks required for a successful application.
The highest-scoring applicants also adhered to the requirement that responses to each question must not exceed 750 words (i.e. 3,000 words overall per submission) and provided clear, succinct and well-structured answers supported with examples where required.
The Sword of Honour assessment methodology is now very closely linked to the Five Star Occupational Health and Safety Audit specification content, report and its findings.
Despite it being an explicit requirement of both the questions and marking scheme, it was regrettable that a significant proportion of applicants failed to provide responses incorporating a clear link to their specific Audit findings; the statement ‘With relevant reference to the outcomes from your recent Five Star Audit:’, prefixing each individual question, was inconsistently observed by the applicants to these awards and it was notable that only the strongest submissions maintained this important link throughout. This is a key component of the question and failing to address it is a limiting factor as the Sword of Honour has a direct relationship with the Five Star Occupational Health and Safety Audit.
There were a significant number of well written submissions and some of a very high quality standard. It was obvious that a considerable amount of preparation, thought, time and effort had been put into these submissions for which the applicants concerned are to be commended.
The use of examples to support the answer and illustrate the point was evident this year and the adjudicating team commented on how helpful this was and that it provided for a more complete and engaging answer. Whilst some submissions did fall short of the standard required for a Sword of Honour, it should be acknowledged that these organisations nonetheless have excellent health and safety management systems as recognised by their rating in the audit.
The stronger applications made reference to both health as well as safety in their responses. The current global pandemic has emphasised the criticality of health and wellbeing management within any organisation, and the submissions should reflect this.