Our ideas so far .....

Ideas proposed to Cotham School to date include


• Natural barriers to plug 'accidental gaps' in the existing perimeter of Stoke Lodge, providing a low cost, high impact barrier; working with identified partners (such as the Botanical Gardens) and involving pupils at Cotham as an ecology project. Hedges, planting and other natural solutions could be deployed, at a lower cost (than a fence), whilst enhancing the ecology of the site. 

 • Formal accessible entrances; open, accessible kissing gates (with ramps) at fewer, more formal entrances with ambulance/maintenance entry gates – similar/ the same style to that used at the Adult Education Centre (in keeping with the setting). 

• A Community ‘charter’ supported by all and detailed on signage at each entrance (e.g. respect the pitch areas; all dogs to be on leads and kept to the perimeter and off pitches). These signs being double sided so that users are aware of any additional measures to be respected when the pitches are in use.  

• Significant community support of the ‘charter’ working with the council, police and other bodies to enforce with the few where required, by the majority.  

• As also identified in Cotham’s risk assessment, providing more bins for litter and dog waste. 

 • Removable sports fencing to further define and control pitch areas when in use.

Our Partnership Model is premised on:

  • BCC's formal commitment in 2010 (before the lease was signed) that the Lodge would never be fenced.
  • Cotham’s lease being ‘subject to all existing use and rights including use by the community’. 
  • The first characteristic of Cotham’s funding agreement with the DfES being community cohesion.
  • Cotham's objective (expressed in its constitution) to promote the provision of facilities for the community/the public at large.

WLSL have proposed that by working together something really exciting, a blueprint for others, could be created which (at a high level) could include: 

  • An outdoor learning space for all  
  • Community Sport Funding; a grant application from We Love Stoke Lodge to fund facilities at Stoke Lodge that would benefit everyone’s health and well-being and enhance sports facilities for Cotham students, community sports groups and the public 
  • Working in partnership with the school’s sport leadership programme - organising physical activity programmes for the community and primary schools 
  • Working with the Adult Education Centre e.g Sport leader UK /Sports coach UK courses - linked to schools and community activity programmes on the site
  • Building Connections Fund application from We Love Stoke Lodge to support a wide range of programmes which increase social connections, build a sense of community and belonging, tackle loneliness and connect people and organisations 
  •  Asset of community value status

What do others do?

Just one of many examples of how schools work in partnership with thier community for open access playing fields is Muller Road Recreation Ground - well done Fairfield School - top marks ! 

Muller Road Recreation Ground


Muller Road Recreation Ground is where Fairfield High School have their playing fields. There has recently been a huge investment in refurbishing and improving the pitches and changing rooms. Guess what?
1. There is no perimeter fence. The temporary fencing you can see on the photos is to protect the newly-seeded pitches and is due to come down shortly. After that - no pitch fencing and no perimeter fencing.
2. The plan (see link) explicitly provides for shared use and community access, via a path for when pitches are in use, and free access otherwise. There are no restrictions on having dogs off lead. And the new changing rooms will even include a public accessible toilet! http://www.fairfield.bristol.sch.uk/news/…
3. The current hedge/tree boundary, with many gaps and access to roads, apparently doesn't present insurmountable stranger danger or absconding risk in Fairfield's view.
4. Fairfield's approach seems to have been explicitly to bring the community into its plans and cater to their needs, recognising the importance of this green space to the local residents, and the desirability of creating a 'win-win' situation.

So why, you might ask, can't Cotham do the same? The Council and Fairfield governors clearly know it's possible. What Fairfield DIDN'T do was to put out misinformation about Ofsted 'requiring' a fence and spend tens of thousands of pounds of school funds in an all-out fight to exclude the community.

Fairfield High sports pitches at Muller Rd Recreation Ground