Guest Blog: “The closure of Sawyers and the transition to Shenfield”

This weekend we were sent an article from a local student who has just completed the move from Sawyers Hall College to Shenfield High School. This process was agreed as part of the closure of the school following the 2009 consultation into the future shape of education in Brentwood that recommended a vocational provision to take its place on the site. In all the discussion, proposals, decisions and consultations that have followed it is easy to forget that this transition still had to take place and that children, parents and staff of both schools have had to live with the consequence. As the piece states, all involved have worked very hard to make the process as painless as is feasible and this deserves to be recognised by the wider community.

Having received permission from the student’s parents we are very happy to publish the article in full:

The closure of Sawyers and the transition to Shenfield

Life can throw a lot of tricky situations at you. For me, a recent change has taken place and before I go into detail about my adventures, I would just like to say that things can seem very daunting and unfair on first impressions, but you have to give things time to develop and when you settle into a new rhythm and routine it will become second nature to you. This was the case for me in my smooth transition to Shenfield High School and here is how it all began.

Firstly, I want to take you back to one particular evening, back in March 2010, the very night Sawyers Hall College’s fate was sealed. From what I can remember, it was quite an intense and highly questioned meeting, where many questions and queries were raised. As I sat there, soaking in the thoughts of my surrounding peers, parents or children I knew deep down the closure was inevitable, simply from the lack of care of the decision maker. So, as I had quickly assumed, the fairly imminent closure was announced and the thought of the transition was set like stone in my mind.

The next year and a half were exceptionally busy and frantic, the strain of tying any loose ends shown clearly on those of higher authority and the clear nerves of our elder peers who prepared to move into an unknown, crowded and very different environment. As I watched on, bemused at the intensely paced year, I put myself in people’s shoes, thinking about the difficulties and hardships they are heading for, teacher or pupil and in the pupils case, in a nutshell, that would be me in a years’ time.

At this point in my Sawyers journey, the transition phase had become significantly less daunting as my communication with ex-primary school and out of school friends became stronger and I realised I had a comfortable backdrop of friends at Shenfield. I think though, that for some of my Sawyers peers, their predicament was far more complex than mine, simply because many of them had come from primary schools where only 1 or 2 children they know are at Shenfield, but for me, a whole 60 children that I knew already attended the school.

My thoughts though, in my latter months at Sawyers, turned to my teachers of three years and that many of them face leaving somewhere they love, in my opinion shamefully not offered positions at the newly formed Becket Keys where they would have been superb choices of the first staff. From where I and many others stand that is entirely their loss and they should have looked at the broader spectrum and situation, something I have heavily criticised them for. Why lose for one, sensationally talented teachers who will now lose jobs and two, give away some of the most unused, high quality equipment a senior school could wish to have.

Being a teenager may mean I do not know the ins and outs of educational politics but even I know some of the decisions they have made regarding this new ‘free’ school are bizarre, despite many saying it is some kind of ‘revolutionary’ idea. It may seem good to some but for me, it is not necessary for one perfectly good school to close and another to open, giving promises that simply will not be fulfilled and ultimately putting another Brentwood secondary school on the noose.

Enough about the new school though and back to the transition, and as the final few weeks draw in, along with various excursions and taster days at Shenfield, I honestly began to realise what a fantastic opportunity and option Shenfield could be for me, mentally and physically. For one I would be reunited with ex-schoolmates, some of my football team and friends from out of school, along with some new friends I’d made along the way, but also the sporting and academic choices seemed endless with the next batch of top quality classes and staff I would be placed with.

Looking back to the March when the school was closing, to the end of May when I moved over to Shenfield, I believe that I as a person have significantly developed my mental strength and confidence, because not many children, maybe fortunately or unfortunately, will not go through what I had to with regards to the transition but there is one thing I want people to take out of this article out of every single detail I have included. What I am now all about is facing fears and realising that when faced with adversity and a major change in your life, you have to battle through it and once you fight against your worries, life will become much simpler for you and changes become a formality. Take confidence from this story and realise not everything that seems scary is, and everything can have its advantages.

I now look forward to what will be a great trip to Thorpe Park with my old and new Shenfield friends.

Thank you for reading.

Ben, 14


  1. Ben,
    Thank you for taking the time to contribute to this discussion. You have provided a fascinating and honest insight into what it means to be part of something which has come to an end and have shown empathy and understanding towards your fellow students and teachers. Your positive approach to this challenge is commendable. I am heartened and encouraged by the obvious care with which your transition to pastures new has been handled by those involved. We have some excellent people involved in education in Brentwood! I hope that like me, many parents and children have been reassured by your experiences. Good luck at Shenfield, we would be grateful for any further input to our site!


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