Dear Editor, In response to the piece by Paul Dale on the denial of Birmingham schools to gang culture.
I am horrified by the total misrepresentation of Holte school in the above piece, where the school was named by Supt Coughlan and totally insulted by the following quote “that he could walk into the Holte School in Aston and every child would be able to name the gang that they saw themselves joining in the future”.
Firstly, any child at the school would point out to him that their geography is better than his, as the school is in fact in Lozells, and secondly, it is frankly wrong.
I am a newly-qualified history teacher who had the pleasure of being involved in taking an entire year group of pupils from Holte to visit Kenilworth castle earlier this year.
I worked with the schools’ most academically challenging class in the year group.
I visited the school on three occasions and spent several hours there. The pupils I worked with were freindly, enthusiastic and extremely inspiring young people.
They are ambitious, despite the stereotype of the area, and the environment outside of the school, they are enthusiastic to use the opportunities that they do receive and above all, they were a really friendly group of young people.
I felt the need to respond as I grew up in a lovely middle-class rural school just outside of Oxford and the pupils I met there were by no means as appraochable, helpful, ambitious or inspiring as the pupils at Holte.
It would appear that Supt Coughlan is in denial about the true quality of the young people in Holte. I am sure that if they met then the pupils would prove him wrong.
I only hope that the pupils at Holte do not see the article as yet another kick in the teeth and so turn to gangs to conform to the expectation that those who should be protecting them seem to have.
They should use their natural enthusiasm, drive and ambition to prove Supt Coughlan wrong!
Dear Editor, I was very disappointed to read the front page article on “Heads in denial over children joining gangs” in Wednesday’s Post.
I am confused as to why Holte was named specifically in the article.
I teach history and classics at Holte and it has only been a few months since you published an article and photograph on the great exam success of pupils in year nine sitting GCSEs two years early (see http://www.birminghampost.net/news/west-midlands-education-news/2008/08/21/lozells-teenagers-scooped-top-gcse-grades-two-years-early-65233-21583033/)
The girls photographed for that article are now associated with “every child” at Holte who can “name the gang they see themselves joining in the future”.
I am amazed that an educated, influential man such as Supt Coughlan can speak in a way that labels Holte children, past, present and future.
He should be aware of the power of words and the harm they can do.
I only hope that there is some highly-publisised retraction of these words before any more damage is done.
Mrs J James,
Customer lost in world of high finance
Dear Editor, I have hardly heard the word customer used by banks, media and politicians before or since the financial debacle began over four-plus weeks ago.
I have definitely heard the words financiers, banks, bankers, lenders, loans, mortgage advisers, mortgages, savings, government, Chancellor, Prime Minister, etc mentioned over and over again.
So the bottom line is this.
The customer is once again left alone in a financial jungle while the bankers and financial establishment have got away with the worst counts of ineptness since the great depression.
Wasteful ways of Highways Agency
Dear Editor, I have just read the staggering statement from Graham Dalton of the Highways Agency. It almost beggars belief.
To justify the cost and expense of moving from perfectly adequate office accommodation to The Cube so “that it allows people to work as effectively and efficiently as possible” is complete rubbish. How much space do they need?
What it should say is “it’s only tax payers money so let’s spend as much as we can and get the most expensive and newest accommodation we can find”.
It’s a disgraceful waste of public money.