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Former teacher calls for re-think over Towers closure proposal

By Thomas Parkes | Wolverhampton | Education | Published:

A former teacher at a school has called on councillors to re-think proposals to axe an outdoor education centre.

Students on a trek at Towers. Photo: Coppice Performing Arts School

Towers Outdoor Education Centre, based in Betws-y-Coed, could close permanently under plans by Wolverhampton Council.

It comes after an investigation revealed £600,000 is needed to fix the building, with a further £1.1 million in refurbishment costs being required.

Now Andrew Darnley, who taught at Heath Town School for 35 years, said the closure and sale of the centre would mean the loss of a “vital resource”.

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Mr Darnley said: “I have been lucky enough to spend years teaching in Wolverhampton and it has been my privilege, in that time, to take thousands of children and young people to the centre in North Wales – to experience the rich and unique experience that the Towers provides.

“Part of my teaching role was to organise and accompany all our Year 7 students for a ‘Towers experience’.

“For many it was the first time they had been out of the city, for some it was the first time they had seen mountains, the sea – and in one case I remember, a sheep.

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“All the children were encouraged to attend and very few failed to take the opportunity.

“Each child, in their own way, would have gained from the experience.” The retired teacher, who was head of PE at the school, said workers at Towers had been “instrumental” in helping to provide support for students.

One of the students went on to work in the NHS after finding her passion whilst on a visit to the centre.

And another ended up joining the army, which the 62-year-old said would “not have happened” without the “bespoke” service at Towers.

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Mr Darnley added: “We also used the Towers for supporting exam courses and I know of lots of ex-students that have taken all the benefits of outdoor recreational activities into adult life as a result of their Towers experiences.

“On behalf of those many students previously guided by the Towers and the ones with needs eagerly waiting in the wings, I would ask you to find ways and means to enable and empower the Towers to carry on the brilliant and unique work it does for the children and young people of Wolverhampton.”

It comes after Council leader Ian Brookfield said it was “probably cheaper” to visit Disneyland Paris than Towers as he defended plans to close it.

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Trainee Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at thomas.parkes@expressandstar.co.uk.

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