Appendix B : Sydenham High School for Girls &endash; Case Study


Sydenham High School is an independent school for girls less than a mile from the Park. While the views of its students are entitled to no greater weight than any other young people, their views are of special interest, for a number of reasons.


First, the school is very close to the Park. Second, the 8-10 year old pupils have conducted a special study of the Park over a period of years. This has included project work, visits to the Park and surveys of Park users. They have also been visited by protagonists on either side of the debate, from the London Borough of Bromley and the Crystal Palace Campaign, and have thus been exposed to debate about the complex land use issues involved.


A useful summary of the school's interest in the Park is given by Clare Polling, the Geography Co-ordinator, Junior Department.

Every summer term, Year 3 children at Sydenham High School begin a project about the Crystal Palace. In their History studies the girls look at how the park was used before the fire of 1936 and in their Geography studies the girls examine how the Park is used now. Through role-play they consider the likes and dislikes of different groups of people and discuss how the Park could be improved.

Although the girls are very young (age 7-8), they learn to appreciate some of the problems of financing and managing such a high maintenance park and are made aware of conflicting views about how revenue should be raised and spent. They examine Bromley's plans for the whole park and have also written to the Crystal Palace Campaign and looked at their literature and video.

The highlight of the project is a day's visit to the park accompanied by officers from Bromley Council. After a short slide presentation in the Information Centre, the girls tour the park, looking at historical features and finding out about future plans.

Before the visit, the girls produce their own questionnaires to survey how people use the park, what they like or dislike and how they feel it could be improved. Under close adult supervision, the girls interview park users and, for many, this is the most exciting part of the day - seven year olds are not usually permitted to talk to strangers!

The aim of the project is to help the children appreciate that land use issues are extremely complex and must involve a fine balance of economic, social and environmental issues. We aim to be objective and in a final debate the girls are encouraged to articulate both sides of the argument. The quality of their speeches is very high and shows that even young children have a valuable part to play in consultations about the future of this marvellous local amenity.


The girls at Sydenham High School were asked to complete questionnaires. They took their questionnaires home over the weekend so as to ensure a complete freedom of approach on their part. The results appear in Table 18.


For the Top Site, the clear preference was for managed parkland, ecology and park history, with 56%, 53% and 52% support respectively. There was a strong rejection of the commercial/leisure centre option, with only 18% in favour and 68% against. The overall ranking was very similar to the answers of all respondents (Table 3), although the percentages supporting the most popular options were somewhat smaller in each case, indicating a wider spread of views.


For the Museum Area, the most popular options were arts/cultural buildings and park history, with all other options receiving under half the vote. There was some correlation with the answers of all respondents here, although the children showed markedly less enthusiasm for community buildings.


In the Main Park, as one might expect, there was overwhelming approval for the landscaped options and events, with the overall patterns corresponding with those of all respondents. However, there was a strong disparity in relation to Park History, only 26% of the girls supporting this in the Main Park, compared to 49% of all respondents.


Finally, the girls gave abundant support for the renewal of the Sports Centre and for sports and recreation there, with 72% and 79% respectively supporting those options. Unlike the whole sample, which had also supported events in the Sports Centre, the girls demonstrated a negative satisfaction rating for that option. For them, it seems, Sports Centres are for playing sports in.

Figure 25 : Class of 2001 (Sydenham) - discussing the dinosaur project
with the leader of the conservation team

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Crystal Palace Campaign March 2002 - Consultation Starts Here
Copyright: Day, Kolvin, Sacks 2002
Last updated: 26 March 2002