Recently, as many readers will be aware, I covered the shocking story of how Brownhills School – formerly Brownhills Community School – has elected to stop all community access to its facilities, resulting in a large degree of disquiet in the town. This abrupt and apparently un-consulted move will leave community groups and sports clubs with no premises from which to operate, and seems a somewhat retrograde step from a school that formerly enjoyed a position at the very heart of the community.
I’m pleased to note that the Walsall Advertiser has picked up on the story, and an extensive and thorough report can be read at the newspaper’s website here. In it the head, Helen Keenan, bemoans financial constraints, but fails to indicate why consultation wasn’t apparently carried out. It also appears that valid criticism of poor communication is considered somehow unsporting.
What shocked me most is a letter written to, and published in the same edition of the paper by Doug Birch MBE, on behalf of the Local Committee. This letter makes excellent points, and I agree with it wholly, which must be the first time in recorded history this has ever happened. When I realised, strong tea and a sit down were very much in order.
I include the letter below, as it isn’t available online:
News brings our biggest concern
AS A group of volunteers, Brownhills Local Committee have worked tirelessly over the past two decades to further the cause of Brownhills. But the latest news to come to our attention has probably brought about the biggest concern for some time.
Brownhills Community Technology College has announced that all user groups are to be asked to look elsewhere to hold their activities. So now football pitches will stand idle at weekends and drama groups will probably cease to exist, along with many other numerous activities that volunteers throughout our community have worked hard on for many years.
The decision has been agreed by the school governors, but the reasons for this action are a bit clouded to say the least.
Money, or lack of it, appears to have caused the demise of pool activities while a minor incident seemed to trigger a negative response to a drama group.
Other rumours abound but nothing we’ve heard so far seems unsurmountable, only the resolve. So much for the Olympic legacy which we all got so excited about a few months ago.
We would urge all Brownhills residents to write to MPs and councillors in an attempt to get this decision reversed, or at least get the school to put a statement out giving the reasons, and so quashing any rumours that may or may not be true.
Douglas Birch, MBE,
Brownhills Local Committee.
Nice one, Doug. I have to salute you there.
I will restate my views on this: Brownhills has stuck by that school through the bad times. We worked together to raise funds for facilities and equipment. We valued the facilities it shared, and watched as it became a school we could be rightly proud of. Now it seems, for whatever reason, the community that provided support has been kicked in the teeth, with no discussion as to alternative solutions. Even if these couldn’t be found, the act of undertaking the process would have shown a degree of consideration and empathy critically not evident at the moment.
This isn’t about the head, who generally has my respect, or the Governors for that matter. It’s not about the educational activity of the school, which is clearly exemplary these days. It’s about a sudden, peculiar and seemingly hasty business decision, the execution of which seems oddly and uncharacteristically hamfisted.
It is very sad to see Brownhills School so crudely snub its community. This is a tragedy, and I hope a better resolution might be found.