Fox Hollies Special School
The City's Health Committee reported in June 1959 that they wished to build an Occupation Centre for 'mental defectives' and a Community Centre on a 0.58 acre site at Fox Hollies Road, a part of the Fox Hollies Hall grounds which was at that time earmarked for housing. (In fact the idea of a community centre there went back to 6th May 1947, when 1.77 acres was transferred from Parks and Estates to Education). The estimated cost was £30,300 for 55 children. Occupation Centres provided 'elementary speech training, word recognition, music and movement, habit training, domestic and sense training, physical training and handicrafts'.
By June 1960 the cost had gone up to £36,726, even though the planned Community Centre had been deferred. Part of this increase in cost was because of the need to make the available play space more attractive to children. A year later the Occupation Centre was part of a much larger redevelopment of the Hall grounds. Now three multi-storey flat blocks, a tenants' room and garages were also going to be built there. In addition a further 7.12 acres of land was going to be taken from Housing for public open space, and this area required landscaping and levelling. A children's playground, four hard tennis courts and fencing and gates were also to be provided here. The tenants' room was to have an office and toilets.
Building of the Occupation centre, now to be called a Training Centre, was started on 2nd April 1962, and the Fox Hollies Special Training centre was opened on 9th June 1962, offering sixty places for juniors. By 1969 twenty-seven males and twelve females under sixteen, and nine males and thirteen females over sixteen were at Fox Hollies.
The Education (Handicapped Children) Act 1970 required changes in how the City managed special education. The City wanted to integrate the seven junior training centres with existing special schools: Fox Hollies was to be combined with Uffculme. The Government did not accept the City's case, and insisted that five of the training centres be kept separate as special schools in their own right. Fox Hollies was one of these.
Ironically, it was decided to move Fox Hollies Special School in 2003. It had developed a partnership with Queensbridge School, which had further developed its Performing Arts status. The Ofsted report of 2001 was very enthusiastic about the educational work done in the school, and particularly the performing arts work: 'Fox Hollies School breaks the mould of what is possible in special school and mainstream school collaboration'. The report was damning about the school building, calling it depressing, inadequate and substandard, and saw it as failing to provide a suitable environment for children aged eleven to nineteen. The building was seen as a major barrier to further improvements, and the report agreed with the idea of locating the school nearer to Queensbridge, to where the City wanted it to go in 1970! The school moved to its new building in December 2003, and in August 2004 the decision was taken to try and find other uses for the old building.
The old school was finally knocked down in the spring of 2006, and wasreplaced by a Children's Centre in 2008. As for the special school, it is now known as the Fox Hollies and Performing Arts College, and is located on the Highbury Community Campus on Queensbridge Road in Moseley. It has a national reputation for performing arts. Among other links, it has a partnership with the Birmingham Royal Ballet.