BACK TO SCHOOL: Celebrating the special people in our families at Marsh Hill Primary School

Words and pics supplied by Marsh Hill Primary School

Children at Marsh Hill Primary School have been celebrating the special people in their families with two events held in school for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Every family is different and the people who take care of nurture the young people in their lives can come in all ages, shapes, and sizes.

So, at Marsh Hill we opened up the traditional events to include brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, and anyone who plays an important role in our children’s lives and who the children in turn wanted to show their love and appreciation for.

And what better way to do that on Mother’s Day than a fabulous afternoon tea, complete with scones, jam, butter, and a hug dollop of love.

Then on Father’s Day the children celebrated the important men in their lives by inviting them into school to share a cone of chips and play a variety of games.

A spokesperson for Marsh Hill Primary told: “It was wonderful to welcome all the families into Marsh Hill and to be able to share their special days with our children, it is amazing to see our young people be so excited and engaged that they can show their appreciation for the special people in their lives.”

They added: “We know all families are different, but the love that connects people is universal and it was a truly magical occasion to be able to celebrate that.”

For more on Marsh Hill Primary School visit www.marshill.bham.sch.uk

Marsh Hill Primary School is part of the Erdington Local BACK TO SCHOOL programme, working together to celebrate school life from staffroom to classroom.

To find out more about going BACK TO SCHOOL with Erdington Local please email: [email protected]

BACK TO SCHOOL: Beautiful butterflies released by EYFS pupils at Marsh Hill Primary

Words and pics supplied by Marsh Hill Primary School

This term at Marsh Hill primary school, our EYFS pupils have been learning all about life cycles and nature.

The children have been caring for caterpillars in the classroom, nurturing them and keeping them safe, and have been excited to look after the insects.

The life cycle of the caterpillar will move from the larva stage, growing to be a caterpillar, through to it forming a chrysalis, and then transforming into a beautiful butterfly.

For the past few weeks, the children have been observing the caterpillars and have talked to their friends and staff about how they have changed, especially on how much bigger they got!

Then last week, there was huge excitement when the EYFS pupils spotted the chrysalis shaking – and finally the children were very lucky to see a couple of the butterflies emerge from their chrysalis!

This week the children released the butterflies into the wild. They have had so much fun and look forward to learning more about the wonders of nature.

For more on Marsh Hill Primary School visit www.marshill.bham.sch.uk

Marsh Hill Primary School is part of the Erdington Local BACK TO SCHOOL programme, working together to celebrate school life from staffroom to classroom.

To find out more about going BACK TO SCHOOL with Erdington Local please email: [email protected]

BACK TO SCHOOL: Exciting new experiences as Marsh Hill children visit Sandwell Valley Riding Centre

Words and pics supplied by Marsh Hill Primary School

At Marsh Hill Primary School, we are passionate about providing as many rich experiences to our pupils as possible.

This term, we are giving every pupil the opportunity to visit Sandwell Valley Riding Centre to experience riding and grooming a pony.

Apart from being a great source of physical activity, pony riding offers a host of psychological benefits. It can boost confidence, improve concentration, and teach responsibility and empathy. It also encourages a connection with nature, helping children appreciate the outdoors.

Our pupils that have visited the centre so far and have had a fantastic time.

They have thoroughly enjoyed the visit and have been extremely excited to share what they have done at the centre with the staff and other pupils in school.

We are very proud of the confidence they have shown with this new experience.

For more on Marsh Hill Primary School visit www.marshill.bham.sch.uk

Marsh Hill Primary School is part of the Erdington Local BACK TO SCHOOL programme, working together to celebrate school life from staffroom to classroom.

To find out more about going BACK TO SCHOOL with Erdington Local please email: [email protected]

NEWS: West Midlands Mayor Andy Street set to invest £400m in social housing in Stockland Green and across the region

Words and pics by Erdington Local editorial team

West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, has secured £400m from Central Government in an ambitious new plan that will see the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) invest hundreds of millions in social housing across the region.

Mr Street announced the new policy at social housing provider Nehemiah Housing Association, an organisation based in Great Barr and with properties in the Erdington constituency.

Launching his mayoral election campaign at Stockland Green School on 21 March, the West Midlands mayor further identified Stockland Green as an area the WMCA will be looking at on “how to improve the housing stock”.

The plan, which was secured ahead of the mayoral election on 2 May, will be the first time the West Midlands Combined Authority has directly funded the building of social housing.

It became possible after Mr Street petitioned Government for £400m investment into the WMCA Affordable Housing Programme, which had reportedly previously only been allocated 50% of that budget, as part of the Deeper Devolution Deal agreed last year.

 

Having secured the multi-million pound social housing investment fund, which will be overseen by the West Midlands Mayor, Mr Street hopes the new plan will attract national media attention and become the blueprint for social housing provision across the country.

Mr Street told Erdington Local: “I want to do this because housing is key to solving so many problems in our region. People might find it strange a Conservative Mayor would care so much about social housing, but I know we could do so much more.”

He added: “The £400m I secured is key, it was a red line for me when signing the Deeper Devolution Deal with the Government.”

The chronic lack of quality social housing across Birmingham is a major factor why Erdington became a hotspot for Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs), assisted living properties, and exempt accommodation.

Now a widely reported and recognised national concern, Erdington Local first covered the frightening reality of those living in HMOs and Exempt Accommodation in August 2020 – with a series articles written by a reporter who has lived experience of the problems facing thousands across the country.

(Click here to read the first story in the series, titled ‘EXPLOITED: HMOs – when greed meets vulnerability, carving up communities for a profit’.)

Following the initial article published by Erdington Local, many other media outlets then covered the topic in depth – with titles from Birmingham Mail to The Guardian all shining a much needed light on the issue.

Mr Street continued: “This kind of plan is a real third term policy as we have been working towards this since I was first elected.

“Housing has always been top of my agenda, prompted by Erdington Local’s investigation into HMOs and assisted living I lobbied the Select Committee in Parliament to look into the problem.”

He added: “This policy is about building new homes, but we will continue to look at how to improve the housing stock in places like Stockland Green.

“This is about building quality social homes for rent for people who want to have a home to call their own – people like key workers, nurses, and young families.

“By partnering with organisations like Nehemiah, we will be building real communities too – that are nurtured by supportive housing associations.”

Despite securing the funding, the WMCA will not actually be building new homes or improving existing social housing themselves – but would instead partner with organisations who have experience in the sector, such as Nehemiah Housing Association, Witton Lodge Community Association, or The Pioneer Group on Castle Vale.

Using funding from the Affordable Homes Programme, Mr Street has promised to triple the current rate of 500-700 homes built by housing associations in the West Midlands to 1,700 per year by 2028.

Mr Street launched the policy at Nehemiah Housing Association, which the organisation’s website describes as providing ‘quality, affordable housing together with wellbeing services to ethnically diverse communities across.’

The housing association has more than 1,250 properties serving the multicultural African, Caribbean, Asian, Irish, and European communities across the West Midlands, including Erdington.

Martin Levermore, Vice Chair of Nehemiah Housing Association, said: “We are celebrating our 35th anniversary this year. Social housing is so important but Government policy changes so often it can be hard to keep up.

“It’s incredibly important that we build enough Social Housing, and the devolution of funding for Affordable Housing could be a game changer for the region. Housing associations like Nehemiah not only build homes, we build communities; so we look forward to seeing how we can play a role going forward.”

For more on Andy Street visit www.andystreet.org.uk

For more on the West Midlands Combined Authority visit www.wmca.org.uk

Click here to learn more about the West Midlands Mayoral elections on 2 May.

NEWS: Andy Street announces £2.4m careers advisor fund during mayoral election campaign visit to Stockland Green School

Words and on location pics by Erdington Local

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street chose Stockland Green School to make his first major policy announcement of his election campaign.

Mr Street visited the Slade Road secondary on the first day of his official campaigning for the mayoral election to announce if re-elected on 2 May the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will pay for 40 careers advisers for schools in some of the region’s most challenged areas.

The plan has been costed at £2.4m with funding already identified by the WMCA.

Mr Street announced the policy at Stockland Green School due to its successful careers programme, which was launched after the legacy of lockdown saw work experience plummet and face-to-face careers sessions with pupils drastically decline.

Mr Street told Erdington Local: “This school has been praised by Ofsted for its commitment to careers advice, but sadly across the West Midlands the same not can be said for all schools.

“There are still too many young people who are not getting the right opportunities and guidance during the critical years when they are deciding what to do for work.”

He added: “30 per cent of our children have not had work experience; one in six have never had face-to-face careers advice. And as usual it’s the schools in the most challenged areas which have these problems.”

Mr Street, who credits his economics teacher as the catalyst for his journey into the business world – which saw him run the department store giant John Lewis from 2007 to 2016, before entering politics – is concerned youngsters will turn elsewhere for crucial advice if denied access to careers experts.

He continued: “In a world where youngsters are getting their career advice from people like Andrew Tate on social media, having trusted local grown-ups in schools is more important than ever.

“I spoke to children in this school today and they all had a spark, a passion, and an idea what excited them concerning jobs – and for children like these, they need help to give them advice about how to get to where they want be and fulfil their aspirations.”

As announced today, if Mr Street is re-elected as West Midlands Mayor schools which score high on the pupil poverty indicators will be able to apply to the WMCA for funds to employ a dedicated careers officer.

Stockland Green School, which is part of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership, was praised last year by Ofsted for the “tenacious” approach of staff in driving up student aspiration.

Assistant headteacher, Katerina Lee, is also responsible for the careers advice in the school. She said: “The pandemic caused so many problems with work experience, and with careers advisors not meeting pupils we wanted to do something about it.

“We work with local companies to get our pupils the routes to the jobs and careers they want. However, it is hard. And it would be wonderful to have a full time careers advisor… in fact we could do with lots, their work is so important.”

She added: “It is not like in previous years, where pupils would be given a pathway to industries which would open their doors for work experience and then a job offer would be at the end of it.

“We have to work hard identifying the needs of pupils, like our SEN (special educational needs) children, it is very important to identify their needs very early on.”

Headteacher Rebecca Goode began working at Stockland Green School 16 years ago before getting the top job in 2022.

She said: “Our pupils enjoyed telling Mr Street their aspirations and what they want to do when they enter the job market. Giving them access to careers advice is a really important part of making that happen.”

Mr Street, who won the previous two West Midlands mayoral elections, promised to keep the region’s youngsters and children at the top of his agenda. He believes improving their economic prospects is key in both their success and that of the wider West Midlands.

He added: “This is one of those areas where we just haven’t had the budget, powers, and responsibility to sort this until now. But I will get a grip of career education if I’m re-elected in May.

The West Midlands Mayoral election is being held on Thursday, 2 May. Candidates include the incumbent Conservative candidate Mr Street, Labour’s Richard Parker, Reform UK’s Elaine Williams, and Sunny Virk for the Liberal Democrats.

For more on Andy Street visit www.andystreet.org.uk

For more on the West Midlands Combined Authority visit www.wmca.org.uk

Click here to learn more about the West Midlands Mayoral elections on 2 May.

BACK TO SCHOOL: Forest School at Marsh Hill

Words and pics supplied by Marsh Hill Primary

At Marsh Hill Primary School, we have been delivering Forest School sessions since January 2022 with a Forest School Practitioner from Forest Schools Birmingham to develop our pupil’s social skills, problem solving skills, taking risks and enjoyment for the outdoors.

Research in the UK into Forest School and its impacts on young children found positive impacts on children in terms of confidence, social skills, language and communication, motivation and concentration, physical skills and knowledge and understanding.

Our pupils complete a 12-week programme which covers all of the forest school rules, learning new skills and having fun along the way. After the 12 week programme, the children invite their parents/carers into school for a Forest School celebration assembly to share what they have learnt at Forest School and showcase their amazing achievements.

We are extremely grateful for the work we are doing with Forest School Birmingham and our children have an amazing time.

For more on Marsh Hill Primary School visit www.marshill.bham.sch.uk

Marsh Hill Primary School is part of the Erdington Local BACK TO SCHOOL programme, working together to celebrate school life from staffroom to classroom.

To find out more about going BACK TO SCHOOL please email: [email protected]

BACK TO SCHOOL: Marsh Hill children swap Christmas cards with Polish school pen pals

Words and pics by Marsh Hill Primary School

At Marsh Hill, we are constantly striving to enrich our pupil’s lives by giving them a range of opportunities and experiences.

One exciting new initiative we have started this academic year is for Year 4 to make international links with a Polish school, Mlodziezowy Osrodek Socjoterapii in Pomorska Wies.

Year 4 were extremely busy before Christmas making festive cards to post to the children at Mlodziezowy Osrodek Socjoterapii. Our pupils were thrilled when they returned to school in January to see that they had received a special delivery from Poland!

Shown above are the Christmas cards they have received from the children in Poland. Our Marsh Hill children were very impressed with how their Polish pen pals had written the cards in English and are going to now learn how to write back in Polish with the help of Miss Matylda.

Over the year, Year 4 will continue to communicate and have links with the school children in Poland.

A huge thank you to Miss Matylda for giving our pupils this wonderful opportunity.

For more on Marsh Hill Primary School visit www.marshill.bham.sch.uk

Marsh Hill Primary School is part of the Erdington Local BACK TO SCHOOL programme, working together to celebrate school life from staffroom to classroom.

To find out more about going BACK TO SCHOOL please email: [email protected]

NEWS: Stockland Green church asks members to pray and fast for ‘apostle’ after manslaughter arrest following death of a man in his 60s

Words by Erdington Local editorial team

A Stockland Green church where a man reportedly died during a baptism has cancelled meetings and events this week – whilst asking members to pray and fast for the ‘apostle’ at the centre of ongoing manslaughter investigations.

Life Changing Ministries, Slade Road, has become the focus of international attention after a man in his 60s died in a small outside pool at the address on Sunday 8 October.

It is reported a baptism was taking place and was being live streamed on the group’s Facebook page – with a picture being widely shared online following the incident.

West Midlands Ambulance Service attended the scene and tried to save the man, named on the church’s Facebook page as Robert Yap.

West Midlands Ambulance Service confirmed: “We were called at 1.42pm on Sunday to a medical emergency at a private address on Slade Road in Stockland Green, Birmingham. Two ambulances, a paramedic officer and a critical care car from Midland Air Ambulance attended the scene. Upon arrival we found a man.

“Ambulance staff administered advanced life support to him but unfortunately, despite the best efforts of ambulance staff it became clear that nothing more could be done to save him and he was confirmed deceased at the scene.”

The story made headlines across the world this week, being picked up by media outlets across the UK and several Christian websites in America and Africa.

But whilst police investigate the tragedy, several posts have appeared on the Life Changing Ministries Facebook page inviting members to join in three ‘Powerful Days of Prayer and Fasting’, running from Tuesday 10 to Thursday 12 October.

A post made on Tuesday 10 October further stated: “URGENT ANNOUNCEMENT!! APOSTLE CHERYL REID – BARTLEY IS URGING ALL MEMBERS TO JOIN WITH HER IN THESE THREE (3) DAYS OF INTENSE AND DEEP WARFARE, PRAYER AND FAST FOR THE MINISTRY, FOR APOSTLE (HERSELF) AND FOR OUR FAITHFUL MEMBERS!!!”

Other posts made by the church’s Facebook administrators include a near hour long message to camera made by Ms Reid-Bartley, under the heading: ‘Our Beloved Brother, Robert Yap of Life Changing Ministries, Birmingham, England has went Home to be with the Lord.’

The post also quotes 2 Corinthians 5:8 (King James Version): ‘We are confident I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.’

Following the social media messages, Life Changing Ministries received several messages of support from members of the church.

Markita Davis Humphrey posted in the comments section: “Always lifting up LCM and Apostle Cheryl and LCM sons and daughters and our families.”

Keisha Riley added: “We will continue to fast and pray Apostle, we’re in this together, we appreciate and love you.”

However, other people criticised the lack of prayers for the man who died.

Donna Francis said: “…none of this people praying for the family of this man what died, all u on praying for the apostle who went to heaven and come back because she did not like up there, and leave the man because he like what he see madness all you stop it this man family is grieving.”

Whilst Mai VaDhikondo posted: “Well life changed really quickly for the apostle, I wonder if she saw this one in her many revelations. Pray for the man who died please!”

Hannah George added: “Who’s praying for the family of the man who died if u don’t mind me asking.”

Following the initial response from emergency services on Sunday 8 October, West Midlands Police were notified about the tragedy and officers and have arrested a woman in connection with the death.

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police confirmed: “A woman has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after a man in his 60s died in Erdington on Sunday.

“A post mortem examination will be carried out in due course to establish the cause of the man’s death, while detectives carry out enquiries into the circumstances surrounding his death.

“A 46-year-old woman who was arrested in Birmingham has been released on police bail while enquiries continue.”

The case continues.

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pic supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

I hope everyone in Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale is looking forward to the summer break and spending some valuable time with their family. Although Parliament is in summer recess, my work in our community will continue throughout.

Recently, I was made aware of a planning application that proposed to convert the Royal Oak Pub into a 10-bed HMO. The property is located in Stockland Green ward, in an area that already has a significant number of HMOs. I led a campaign calling on local people to object to the planning application, and our petition collected the support of 398 concerned residents.

I’m delighted that Birmingham City Council listened to residents’ concerns and refused the application. This shows what can be achieved when a determined community works together.

Also in July, our amazing NHS marked its 75th Anniversary. I’m proud to have worked in the NHS as a nurse, first training as a district nurse in Kingstanding and then dedicating 25 years to supporting people across Birmingham. Living in Erdington, I still rely on and cherish our local NHS services.

The NHS was Labour’s greatest achievement, founded in 1948 and continues to provide care to everyone free from the point of use. Sadly, after 13 years of Tory mismanagement, we have seen a huge decline in our health service, making it impossible to book GP appointments, creating long operation waiting times and worsening staff shortages. Our NHS is broken, and it will take a Labour government to save it.

For more on Paulette Hamilton MP for Erdington visit www.paulettehamilton.org

NEWS: Application for 10 bedroom HMO at old Royal Oak pub refused over fears of ‘erosion’ to local area

Words & pics by Ed King

An application to convert the old Royal Oak pub on Marsh Lane has been refused by Birmingham City Council (BCC) citing the potential ‘erosion’ of the local area in its final decision.

The application was made by Keey Homes Ltd, a property management company with a registered address in Exeter – that was only incorporated in December 2022.

In further response to the planning application, which sought to covert the once popular pub into a 10 bedroom HMO (house of multiple occupancy), BCC stated that ‘future occupiers of the proposed HMO would not be afforded a suitable and satisfactory standard of living’.

In the current proposal, registered with BCC on 12 July 2023, more than one of the 10 bedrooms would only have windows facing a neighbouring wall – at less than 12 times the distance required in Birmingham – leaving an ‘unsatisfactory standard of outlook and poor access to natural light’.

Further concerns were raised as none of the ‘external amenity space’ at the property would be ‘made available for occupiers’ – leaving potential residents often cooped up min their bedrooms.

The historical significance of the building was also raised, with the proposed demolition of a boundary wall and building extension on the current beer garden viewed by BCC as a ‘loss of features of historic value’.

Furthermore, the report goes on to identify that if the application was granted it would result in nearly a third (28%) of the surrounding residential properties – stretching 100m from the Royal Oak – would be given to HMOs and Exempt Accommodation.

It continues to state that a ten bedroom HMO ‘would result in an over-concentration of non-family residential uses in the area’ and any potential ‘public benefits’ would not ‘justify the further erosion of the surrounding area’s family residential character.’

In conclusion, the planning officers report found the proposed development ‘would fail to provide a satisfactory standard of residential accommodation’ and BCC refused the application.

The halting of another HMO in Erdington will come as a welcome relief to local residents who objected to the plans, with hundreds signing petitions from local elected officials to rally against the development.

On 22 June, Erdington Ward Cllr Robert Alden, and Leader of Birmingham Conservatives, launched an online petition against the proposed HMO – citing the ‘cumulative impact of HMOs in this area’ and many of the issues eventually identified by Birmingham City Council in their final notes as to why they refused the application.

On 26 June, Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton also launched an online petition against the development, further writing to the BCC Planning Committee to ‘express my strong opposition’ to the application – referencing a ‘clear… lack of consultation with residents’ and other community stakeholders.

On hearing the Council’s decision to refuse the application, Paulette Hamilton MP told Erdington Local: “It was fantastic to learn that Birmingham City Council have refused the planning application that would have converted the Royal Oak Pub into a 10-bed HMO. I know the decision came as a relief for many local people.

“I’m also proud to have led the campaign that resulted in this decision. We urged local people to submit their concerns and I’m glad that 398 concerned residents backed our petition.

“Today’s result was good, but I remain concerned about the number of HMOs in our community and will continue to represent the best interests of my constituents.”

Erdington Ward Councillor Robert Alden (Conservative) further told: “The refusal of this application is welcome news for our community and the right decision. Thank you to the hundreds of residents who signed my petition opposing the application and wrote to the Council objecting.

“This is again proof of the difference residents can make locally by standing up to the landlords who attempt to break up our community.

“This application was totally unsuitable and would have had a significant negative impact on the area had it been approved. I call on the Council to now reject the HMO application for 120 Gravelly Lane as well.”

But Richard Bates, who lives a short walk from the proposed development, summed up the resilience of local residents in their fight against HMOs, describing them as “a community that is tough as a royal oak.”