Bilston staff were trailblazers

28th July 2000 at 01:00
MARK Atkinson ("Goodbye to Bilston", FE Focus, July 21) was not at Bilston Community College, but has chosen to re-write history and diminish the achievements of students and staff.

It is true that we had students around the country - there was no rule against it at the time and most businesses, voluntary organisations and community groups appreciated our support, particularly when they had been rejected by their local colleges.

Hundreds of people across the country gained valuable accreditation who would not otherwise have done so, thanks to staff who worked hours normally unthinkable in further education.

The sector would be hard-pressed to find a staff as creative, enterprising and forward-thinking as we had at Bilston. Despite our prolems (and I can assure Mark Atkinson that (ex finance director) Paul Goddard-Patel was not one of them), we grabbed opportunities, took risks and pushed at the boundaries.

Bilston was ahead of its time and worthy of the support of the funding council rather than its wrath.

Thanks to our openness, many voluntary organisations were given the power to develop their operations on their own terms, and position themselves as a force for local regeneration - a situation which this government says it wants to encourage but which, in reality, is too threatening for the bureaucrats in their ivory towers to contemplate.

Brenda Addison

Senior manager, Bilston Community College, 1989-1998

84 Church Lane

Handsworth, Birmingham

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