Oval Partnership Briefing Note
There are eight primary schools and three secondary schools in and around the neighbourhood. A cursory glance at school names will show that some have church affiliations and others not. A little history lesson may be important here. What have George Dixon (one time mayor and MP for Birmingham), Joseph Chamberlain and others got to do with local schools? They were campaigners for non-sectarian education free from the influence of churches. In 1867, they co-founded the Birmingham Education League. From this the National Education League (1869) developed. This was a political movement promoting elementary education for children free from religious control. Their campaigning led to the Elementary School Act 1870 (also known as Forster’s Educations Act). Between 1870 and 1880, three to four thousand schools were either started or taken over by school boards. Amongst them, were schools like Ashmole Primary School (formerly Church St School-1879) and Archbishop Sumner C of E Primary School (1871)
Of course educational reform may have come eventually but, in a way, a few individuals in Birmingham may have brought change about far quicker than might otherwise have been the case.
Archbishop Sumner (Church of England)
St Annes (Roman Catholic)
St Marks (Church of England)
Schools contribute to the architectural diversity of the neighbourhood. However, like hospitals, schools tend to give priority to function rather than form. Scarcity of land and insufficient resources mean that development can be somewhat hap hazard with a mixture of conflicting styles. An older school will face greater challenges than a modern purpose built school so the tendency will always be to replace or append old with new. There can also be pressure arising from alternative uses of land. For example Archbishop Tenison School wants to take over the Triangle Adventure Playground. Elsewhere, Durand School leased off some land to help fund development.
Most younger children tend to walk to school and a few will cycle when they get older. However ,many children arrive by public transport, school buses or by private car. At certain times of day, buses will be packed with children and streets clogged with traffic as parents drop their children off at school. Schools do their best encouraging the use of safe routes to the school etc. but the environmental impact of schools is fairly obvious. Some schools may be better than others in this respect but the overall effect is obvious. Once the school holidays arrive, buses are less congested as are the roads ....then its back to school again.
The presence of children are the lifeblood of any community. They form new friendships and, by default ,their parents will form new friendships with other parents. In time, friendships so formed help strengthen the community.