A project from Frankley Community High School reached the finals of the Community Education Awards in July, out of 156 entries from around the country.
Frankley’s “Graffiti Clean Up 2 Street Art” project was one of just four projects nationwide to reach the finals in the Allianz Anti-Social Behaviour Project category, along with a “School & Community Gym, ICT & Science Hub” Project from Manor Park Primary School in Aston.
Frankley High School’s school council surveyed pupils to find out their views of anti-social behaviour and crime in the local area. They then consulted with West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council, aiming to demonstrate that young people were also concerned with graffiti and vandalism. Twenty-five pupils gave up their own time to help with a clean up of the local area including a clean up of the Balaam’s Wood alleyway, removal of graffiti at Colmers Farm astroturf and installation of spray art murals at Arden Road shopping centre, assisted by artists from Graffiti4Hire
“It was about cleaning up unsightly graffiti, improving the urban environment, changing perceptions residents have of young people and demonstrating that street art can have a positive part to play in urban regeneration,” said Alex Zarifeh, citizenship teacher.
The project was a multi-agency effort principally led by Frankley Community High School pupils in conjunction with PC Chris Turner and the West Midlands Police with the support of Birmingham City Council who supplied the paint, brushes and safety equipment.
Alex added: “The major challenge is in keeping these spaces in the same pristine condition. All three sites have to various extents been subsequently vandalised. The teams are keen to keep on top of the damage by reporting subsequent graffiti and re-tackling these problem areas again in the future.”
Participants are exploring the possibility of installing purpose built graffiti walls within the estate to channel graffiti into positive creativity rather than destructive vandalism.
“The pupils, although disappointed that some graffiti has reoccurred in the spaces they cleaned up and designed, are not disheartened. They were pleased to be part of the ‘solution’ and developed a deeper understanding that anti-social behaviour and crime are difficult things to tackle in the permanent sense. They hope their example will inspire others to step up and get stuck in,” stated Alex.
The category was won by Manor Park Primary school in Aston, where gym and ICT facilities have been opened up the local community. The school has become a community hub and has been instrumental in bringing together local residents and improving community spirit.
Accepting the award for Manor Park at Chigwell Hall in Essex, headteacher Jason Smith said “Whilst there are gyms in the area they are all fee paying which families cannot afford. Also whilst computers are the norm for most, it is not the norm for our families; which can impact on their life skills for future work.”
The project is ongoing and being reviewed regularly. Future plans include widening the project to other schools and looking at the feasibility of adding a swimming pool to the hub.
Mr Smith was also a finalist for the Outstanding Individual Achievement Award – one of four from a total of 340 entrants!
Well done to both schools on their fantastic achievements!
UPDATED 26th July 2011 – The winning school was Manor Park in Aston NOT Northfield Manor School in Northfield. Apologies!