Royal Park School
I was a governor at Royal Park more or less from the moment that Georgia stepped her five year old foot across its threshold. And, of course in the presence of the mighty headteacher, Rita Samuel, we soon knew that the school was a pillar in its community. We fought for speed limits, against "adult" signs, and against the polluting indiscriminate posters that littered our walls, bustops, even trees. When the Newlands was firebombed in 1995, the school took in traumatised families to support them through the experience. The drug gangs went on fighting the police however in the days to follow; and even now, nearly two decades later you can still see the marks on Hyde Park and Woodsley Roads where the cars burnt to skeletons. At Royal Park, where there was lawlessness in the streets, the school exuded moral correctness and order.
I chose Royal Park School, even earlier for Walt, and then Daisy, for no other reason than we lived in Brudenell Mount. Absolutely no other reason. I know that schools are constructed of a complex interaction between staff and students. And that a school can be what you make it. And I think that history has its place to play. The staff who knew your siblings have a head start on knowing you, and caring for you.
And you close down history at your peril. Education Leeds closed down history all over Leeds, and destabilised many a community. Their chief executive stood in our very school building and promised that the school, accused of having surplus places would stay in educational use. It was only months before the plans to site Sure Start and Burley Library here came to nothing.
We have kept the Royal Park story alive in the media and the community's hearts. People have different ideas about how it should be used. My preference, while neighbouring schools are being expanded and potakabinned, is for education. As HMOs begin to be abandoned in Hyde Park, the need surely for Royal Park to become a school again resurfaces. [Here's a picture of Sue organising us to tidy up the flower beds.]