New radio and TV stations for Crawley could be run from Discovery New School’s old home
Information courtesy of Crawley News | Posted: July 13, 2014
By Chris Ballinger
ONE of the bids to take over Broadfield House would transform the building into an education support centre helping disadvantaged young people.
Graham Cridland, president of West Sussex and Surrey Angling Academy, has shared his vision for opening a facility which would help hundreds of youngsters struggling at school due to antisocial behaviour or learning difficulties.
The academy has teamed up with Autism Sussex, Plumpton College, West Sussex Music and Crawley Town to put forward a unique proposal to take over the site, which until April was home to Discovery New School.
It would put on fishing courses, host music courses and run sporting qualifications.
The academy is one of three groups in negotiations with the Department for Education to set up a school or education facility at the site.
If its bid is accepted the building will become known as the Kingfisher Education Support Centre.
Mr Cridland said: “There is nothing else quite like this in the country.
“We want to prevent children and young adults, who are at risk of criminal behaviour and showing signs of being antisocial, from being socially excluded.
“Plumpton College wants to provide angling qualification courses. We have already found these lessons create an interesting environment for the disadvantaged and educationally disengaged.
“It helps them to communicate better, they work with other people and research shows learning is improved by taking part in an enjoyable activity.
“We are removing these students from the classroom where people know what buttons to press to get the worst out of them and make them lash out.”
Mr Cridland hopes to run five angling courses a week – with each one having 12 pupils.
He added: “These courses could be run after school, at weekends and, in some cases, schools could allow vulnerable children to be released a day a week.
“Having Broadfield House will allow us to open a tackle shop and cafe alongside the fishing courses.
“Those on the angling courses can then get work experience; learning how to handle money, improving customer service skills and helping to bake (food for the cafe).”
Since 2006 the angling academy has taught 579 students – with 262 going on to full time employment, while 48 are in further education and the rest are at school and expected to achieve better GCSE grades as a result of completing the course.
If approved, the centre would also have sensory and sound rooms which would be used by children with autism, Asperger’s or ADHD.
Counsellors and therapists would offer children with these conditions one-to-one support.
Autism Sussex, Mr Cridland added, has already had 300 enquiries from families interested in finding out more about what the support centre might be able to offer them.
Due to the size of Broadfield House a support centre that offers a wide range of facilities is a viable option.
Mr Cridland, from Burns Road in Pound Hill, also envisages running radio and TV stations from the site.
He said: “Since the demise of Mercury FM we have lost a radio station focused on Crawley.
“Our radio station would cover a 16-mile radius from Broadfield House, with people on our courses given the options of presenting and producing programmes.
“We also have the idea of launching a local TV station.”
The centre would also have sound rooms where West Sussex Music Group would run Royal Academy of Music courses, teaching people how to play musical instruments and record their own music.
Mr Cridland said: “We have also talked about setting up a new food bank in the building.
“This would help those on our courses to get experience in stock control and packing the goods.”
The academy was granted a two-year licence to use Broadfield Lake, also known as Kingfisher Lake, for its angling projects by Crawley Borough Council in February.
The lake in Broadfield Park is a stone’s throw from Broadfield House.
“It is the perfect fit,” said Mr Cridland.
“There is the option to run forestry courses and using materials found in the park to build new fishing platforms for the lake.
“Broadfield Park suffers from not having public toilets on site. If we have use of the manor house we will provide access (to its toilets) which will encourage more people to visit the park.”
The group has been told it will find out whether its bid is successful by the end of the month.
If the plans to take over Broadfield House are rejected, as many of the courses as possible will instead be run from the K2 leisure centre from September, while an alternative permanent base is sought.
ANGLING TO HELP MORE PEOPLE: Graham Cridland running one of his fishing courses at Broadfield Lake with daniel Meech, 16 and Jack Heslop, 15