The former home of the Cadbury Family, Barnes Close is a place of spiritual retreat and peace-making. Nestled in the Worcestershire countryside, Barnes Close provides our pupils, parents and staff with a welcoming space for a much needed break, transformative personal retreat, and the ongoing exploration into expressions of peace.
Our fortnightly visits are used to escape the hustle and bustle of life in inner-city Birmingham and connect with nature, faith and friends. While visiting Barnes Close, we explore the surrounding woodland, ramble across the Waseley Hills, engage in arts and crafts and spend time reconnecting with friends. Bliss!
The Brig House was established in 1969 to provide cost effective, high-quality outdoor and residential education for school children from under served communities across Birmingham. Situated in the heart of Atherstone, the Brig House is surrounded by lush Warwickshire countryside, enchanting forestry and wide open space. It is a very different setting to inner-city Birmingham.
As a member of the Brig House, we spend nine nights annually at the residential centre.
Children from across Key Stage Two get to explore Grendon Woods, build dens, toast marshmallows on the camp fire, go for walks in the countryside and spend a unforgettable time with their friends and peers, away from the non-stop hustle and bustle of Handsworth.
Community-based recreational and competitive sporting opportunities for youth from underserved inner-city communities such as Handsworth are often lacking. Compared to areas of Birmingham that benefit from greater financial investment, Handsworth has a criminally low number of youth football teams in Handsworth and the surrounding communities, despite being in the shadow of Aston Villa FC and West Bromwich Albion FC. Areas such as Sutton Coldfield and Kings Heath are awash with sports teams and clubs.
School sports curriculums and programs represent an ideal location for promoting youth development in underserved areas because they can provide safe, supervised, and structured activities. This is one of the primary ambitions of our PE and sport curriculum. Our intent includes not only physical education programs, but also other extra-curricular activities such as inter-school sports and recreational sport.
Every Tuesday afternoon, the school hall is opened up to families to socialise and connect with each other. Arts and crafts, board games and construction toys are aplenty, while cups of tea and plates of biscuits are never far away. While providing children and parents with a safe space to relax and play, Family Club provides staff with the opportunity to connect with parents, and vice versa.
The post-pandemic world we inhabit is one of increasing disconnection. It's a world where human-connection is at an all-time low; a place where Zoom and Teams meetings have replaced face-to-face interactions. Social media is a world of polarised views, where differing opinions can incite a ferocious backlash. We are disconnected from those of different demographics and are explosively divided on social issues. We have forgotten how to be comfortable alone, and we have forgotten how to be comfortable together.
It’s not just reflected in the little things – phones at the dinner table; “doom-scrolling” on the couch; going to a party and everyone sticking to the friends they came with. Our world is increasingly lonely and more prone to spend spare time stuck in screens rather than in real-life conversation.
We want to connect our community; to introduce people who would not otherwise meet over a great meal.
Supper Club is a monthly event where families gather to share a free meal, listen to good music, play games, and share good conversation. It is a platform for human interaction to flourish.
Thanks to charitable donations, we purchased 20 bicycles after recognising many of our children either don't own a bike, or simply don't have a safe space in which to cycle. During spring and summer evenings, the school grounds are awash with pupils cycling and learning the life skills of bicycle maintenance, including changing punctures, tightening brakes and oiling a chain!
Birmingham Royal Ballet - Dance Track
Dance Track is a talent identification programme aimed at training young dancers aged from six to eight. The project endeavours to identify and train young participants showing a potential for ballet and to instil a passion for dance at an early age.
Every year 80 children from across Birmingham (including some of our very own pupils!) who show a talent for dance are invited to join the Dance Track programme. The participants, who often wouldn't otherwise have an opportunity to participate in dance, are given free weekly ballet lessons taught by Birmingham Royal Ballet staff. Throughout the year they are invited to Birmingham Royal Ballet to have a look behind the scenes and to meet Company dancers, and are offered tickets to see Birmingham Royal Ballet performances at Birmingham Hippodrome. The activities offered are designed to introduce the young participants and their families to ballet and to incite an interest in the art form.
The main purpose of our free breakfast club is to provide a safe, secure environment before school, where children can have a nutritious breakfast with their friends. Breakfast club provides children with a healthy breakfast consisting of cereal, fruit and a bagel, as well as time to play with friends. It also provides staff with the opportunity to connect with pupils ahead of a busy school day.
Pupils from across all year groups can join a pupil leadership body, including the School Council, Faith Council, Peer Mediators and Eco Council. Pupil leadership groups enable children to become advocates for their own needs and the needs of others. It lies at the heart of building a sense of community and trust in school and builds effective relationships. An investment in pupil leadership is a direct investment in tomorrow's leaders of our schools and of our communities.
Termly pupil-led initiatives see local elderly residents invited into school as guests to be served and hosted as friends of the school. Events include Christmas dinner, bingo, and quizzes.
Relationships between the oldest and youngest members of our community are essential. Unfortunately, the decline of families living in the same house has reduced the frequency that young people interact with older people. There are elderly members of our community who are isolated for large periods of the week, for whom the opportunity to interact with young people provides a boost for their mental wellbeing. Furthermore, such events provide our children with valuable opportunities to serve and care for others, characteristics that are required to develop a true sense of community in Handsworth.
Inter-Generational Community Projects
Pupils are provided with a wide range of educational visits during their time at St. Michael’s. Educational visits to places such as the seaside, the theatre and museums are subsidised to ensure no pupil misses out on the opportunity to experience a ‘school trip’.
Not only do school trips encourage pupils to learn outside of the classroom but they also allow children to socialise with peers in a different way than within day-to-day school. They give pupils the opportunity to visit places they otherwise may not experience.
In April 2022, with the support of the local community, we transformed a previously unused plot of land into a allotment which is used by the school and wider community.
Food produce is distributed to parents via the St. Michael’s Food Cupboard and sold by pupils via Birmingham’s main outdoor market, the Bullring.
We have our own small farm, housing animals such as chickens, a rabbit, goats, alpacas, and lambs. Animals are ‘loaned’ from a Warwickshire farm with whom we have a strong working relationship.
School pets can help children develop emotional skills like empathy and social skills. They can be a great support for children who are struggling to settle into school and for children with special educational needs.
Learn more about our farm here.
HAF Camp - Holiday Activity and Food Camp
At the end of each term, we stage a Holiday Activity and Food Camp at St. Michael’s. All pupils have access to this free initiative. They are provided with daily supervised activities such as sport and art, while being provided with warm and nutritious breakfast and lunch meals.
Our HAF Camps are delivered in association with Handsworth Association of Schools and are open to all children. HAF camps provide our children with enjoyable activities during holiday periods.
Click here to learn more about our extensive programme of before- and after-school clubs.