1975 Fircroft Dispute

James Williams Snyder made this Freedom of Information request to Fircroft College of Adult Education

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

James Williams Snyder

Dear Fircroft College,

Can you please provide me with electronic copies of any information you hold in connection with the 1975 Fircroft Dispute, as mentioned on http://spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=...

To make your response to this request feasible, you may wish to use a digital photocopier that allows copies to be saved onto a hard drive or memory stick, this could also be much cheaper to process than delivery of hard copies.

Yours faithfully,

James Williams

Alex Jarvis, Fircroft College of Adult Education

Hello Mr Williams

For some reason your e-mail went into my junk mail folder and I have just
picked it up.

I will look into the information held by the College but I will need more
time to do so given that it was 35 years ago.

Please bear with me and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Regards

Alex

Alex Jarvis
Head of Staff & Student Support
Fircroft College
1018 Bristol Road
Selly Oak
Birmingham
B29 6LH

Tel: 0121 4720116

[1]www.fircroft.ac.uk

show quoted sections

Alex Jarvis, Fircroft College of Adult Education

Dear Mr Williams

Further to your request for information about the 1975 Fircroft Dispute. I
have checked the records currently available but have not been able to
locate any information relating to your enquiry.

We do have some archived books and paperwork which have been catalogued by
our Librarian which may or may not contain information on the dispute.
Unfortunately our Librarian (who works part time) is on annual leave until
24^th June, I have sent an urgent request through which she will pick up
on her return.

I hope that you understand the reason for the delay. Fircroft College is a
very small college providing residential learning for disadvantaged
adults. We are a registered charity and have very low numbers of staff
therefore resources for this type of investigation are limited.

I will be in touch with you week commencing 28^th June to provide you with
an update.

If you wish to speak to me about this then please call me on 0121 4720116
(please note that I do not work on Mondays)

Regards

Alex Jarvis

Head of Staff & Student Support
Fircroft College
1018 Bristol Road
Selly Oak
Birmingham
B29 6LH

Tel: 0121 4720116

www.fircroft.ac.uk

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

[1]www.fircroft.ac.uk

Fircroft College of Adult Education

Rated Outstanding (Grade 1) in all areas by Ofsted, November 2007

The contents of this e-mail and its attachments ('message') are confidential and
may be subject to legal privilege. The contents may not be disclosed, copied or
distributed without the consent of Fircroft College. It is intended for the use
of the addressee(s) only. If you are not the intended recipient, delete this
message immediately and advise the sender that you have received it in error.
The statements and opinions expressed in this message are those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect those of the Fircroft College. Whilst the College
makes every effort to ensure this message is virus free, it does not guarantee
that this is the case. It is recipient's responsibility to carry out such virus
checks as it deems necessary. Fircroft College cannot accept responsibility in
this regard.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.fircroft.ac.uk/

James Williams Snyder

Dear Alex Jarvis,

I understand the resource issues you have mentioned and please feel free to take more time. Disadvantaged people and past, current or prospective Fircroft students might also find disclosures of the information, in an accessible format much easier to use and make some important Adult education history less hidden.

As the Dispute highlights how they responded to wanting to control their own education and how Fircroft College, the Cadbury trustees etc and the State responded thereto.

Important lessons for Disadvantaged people would hopefully be contained in any of your disclosures.

Yours sincerely,

James Williams Snyder

Alex Jarvis, Fircroft College of Adult Education

Dear Mr Williams

Thank you for your understanding.

Regards

Alex

Mrs Alex Jarvis
Head of Staff & Student Support
Fircroft College
1018 Bristol Road
Selly Oak
Birmingham
B29 6LH

Tel: 0121 4720116

[1]www.fircroft.ac.uk

show quoted sections

Alex Jarvis, Fircroft College of Adult Education

Hello again Mr Snyder

Our librarian has managed to retrieve some paperwork from the archives -
mainly newspaper articles. I can scan and send this to you electronically
but this will take quite a lot of time as we do not have an up to date
facility for this.

Is there a particular direction for your research so that I can narrow
down the relevant documents? E.g. is it action taken by the individual you
have named and the College/Governments response to those actions? If not
then I will have to cost up the potential time involved in preparing all
the documents as you are requesting. Alternatively I can photocopy and
post the documents to you which would cut the preparation down.

We would be happy for you to come and have a look at the items but
obviously this will depend on your location.

I await your response

Regards

Alex

Alex Jarvis
Head of Staff & Student Support
Fircroft College
1018 Bristol Road
Selly Oak
Birmingham
B29 6LH

Tel: 0121 4720116

[1]www.fircroft.ac.uk

show quoted sections

Alex Jarvis, Fircroft College of Adult Education

Dear Mr Williams

I am not aware of having received a response from you regarding my offer
below (apologies for addressing you as Mr Snyder). If you have replied
could you re send it please (or telephone me on 0121 4720116).

Our librarian is about to retire and as we are not in a position to fully
replace the role we are in the process of passing our archived records
over to the Birmingham Central library.

Can you let me know how you would like to progress this matter.

Please note that I will be on leave from 13th August until 2nd September
2010.

Regards

Alex Jarvis

Alex Jarvis
Head of Staff & Student Support
Fircroft College
1018 Bristol Road
Selly Oak
Birmingham
B29 6LH

Tel: 0121 4720116

[1]www.fircroft.ac.uk

show quoted sections

James Williams Snyder

Dear Alex Jarvis,

I write to confirm I still wish the information to be emailed to me. Maybe your colleagues at Birmingham Central library could assist creating scanned digital copies, so the information being requested does not just gather dust and is accessible to interested parties and researchers.

I have not requested information on the individual referred to in the third party web site.

I am interested in the College and Governments response to those actions the dispute.

You mentioned earlier you can easily photocopy the material and post it out. This is helpful feedback, but I would prefer the copies to be emailed.

Most modern photocopiers can now turn A4 paper copies to digital versions and can then be emailed from direct from the copier or saved onto it's hard disk or a usb stick. It you have fresh photocopies, then they can often just be placed in a copier feeder and automatically scanned.

Yours sincerely,

James Williams Snyder

Alex Jarvis, Fircroft College of Adult Education

Dear Mr Williams

I note your comments and will see what I can do. Unfortunately we do not
have a modern copier in the College and whist the library are looking to
take the material I doubt if it will be catalogued very quickly.

Now that I understand the focus of your enquiry more fully I will look
through the box of documents we have (mainly old newspaper clippings) and
see if there is anything relevant.

Regards

Alex Jarvis

Alex Jarvis
Head of Staff & Student Support
Fircroft College
1018 Bristol Road
Selly Oak
Birmingham
B29 6LH

Tel: 0121 4720116

[1]www.fircroft.ac.uk

show quoted sections

Alex Jarvis, Fircroft College of Adult Education

Hello Mr Williams

I have now read through the small pile of paperwork from this period and
am not sure that we hold much which is going to be of interest to you.
There is:

1. A copy of the report of the Committee of Inquiry chaired by Andrew
Leggatt QC, 13th April 1976
2. A copies of a letter to C Cadbury from the students union (KJ MacGowan
and W Lawrence) dated 2nd July 1975, setting out their demands.
3. A copy of a letter from HGM.Peters of the Dept of Education and Science
to CCadbury dated 3rd July 1975 recommending that the enquiry takes place.
4. A 4 page paper from the Governing Body dates May 1980 stating the
conditions under which the college will be re-opening
5. The Fircroft College annual report 1980-81
6. A copy of a several page article in the Higher Education review dated
Spring 1976. Entitled 'Curriculum and order: an experiment in student
control' Robert Milsom, Trevor Blackwell, Terry Murphy and Harry Newton.

Other than these there are lots of newspaper clippings covering the
various events.

Could you please clarify if you are interested in any of the above, or if
you already hold any of this information. Once I have your answer I will
be able to assess the staff time that the College will need to commit in
order to produce the documents in the electronic format that you are
requesting. Once I have undertaken this costing the College will need to
consider whether or not the cost is reasonable or whether we need to ask
you for a contribution.

I await your response

Regards

Alex Jarvis

Alex Jarvis
Head of Staff & Student Support
Fircroft College
1018 Bristol Road
Selly Oak
Birmingham
B29 6LH

Tel: 0121 4720116

[1]www.fircroft.ac.uk

show quoted sections

James Williams Snyder

Dear Alex Jarvis,

I do not hold any of the information you mention. If I understand correctly it will be free to send me the information through the post, but I may be charged if I want the information to be sent to me by email?

Can you let me know what formula will be used to calculate any costs to send the information to by email.

I understand the limit set for FOI requests is £450, set as £15 per hour for staff time, equal to 30 hours.

A digital photocopier can also be said to be a Green technology, as paper can be dispensed with and digital copies can be made direct to a USB stick and in colour. Students can also make digital copies at little or know costs and use and access such on a computer.

Many academic institutions are digitising archives and posting them online to make hidden history and data accessible online. If there are any costs you consider I should pay, maybe the Cadbury College Governers could consider paying to place online an important part of Fircroft's history, from a Students point of view.

Yours sincerely,

James Williams Snyder

Alex Jarvis, Fircroft College of Adult Education

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Williams

I attach the first two documents which you should be able to open by going
into your computers 'all programmes', selecting 'accessories' then
selecting 'wordpad'.

The College does not have a digital copier but I have managed to reproduce
these documents using a scanner and then having to correct any scanning
errors on the PC.

I will send you documents when I am able to but it is taking me some time
to carry out this exercise.

To answer your question, photocopying and posting the documents will
inevitably take less time than the process I am having to follow in order
to electronically scan these old documents on the machinery that this
College has available to it at the current time. I have not requested any
payment from you as yet and hope not to have to do so but this is a new
process for us to follow therefore I believe I am right to make you aware
of this possibility.

Whilst we are an academic institution we are a registered charity and the
smallest college in the country and therefore do not have the same
resources available to us as many institutions.

I am trying my best to supply you with the information that you have
requested and will send you more in the next day or two.

Thank you for your patience.

Regards

Alex Jarvis

Mrs Alex Jarvis
Head of Staff & Student Support
Fircroft College
1018 Bristol Road
Selly Oak
Birmingham
B29 6LH

Tel: 0121 4720116

[1]www.fircroft.ac.uk

show quoted sections

Alex Jarvis, Fircroft College of Adult Education

1 Attachment

Hello Mr Williams

I attach the Leggatt Report which has taken me several hours to transfer
into this format due to the document I have being a basic copy of an old
original, so I apologise for the delay. It can be opened in windows as
well as Word pad. The two letters I have mentioned previously are at the
end of this report.

Unfortunately the layout of the document is not perfect but I have ensured
that the content is readable.

I have one further document to produce for you - the Curriculum and Order
paper from the educational review. Again this is a photocopy of an old
document so I'm not sure how long this will take.

Regards

Alex

Alex Jarvis

Head of Staff & Student Support
Fircroft College
1018 Bristol Road
Selly Oak
Birmingham
B29 6LH

Tel: 0121 4720116

www.fircroft.ac.uk

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

[1]www.fircroft.ac.uk

Fircroft College of Adult Education

Rated Outstanding (Grade 1) in all areas by Ofsted, November 2007

The contents of this e-mail and its attachments ('message') are confidential and
may be subject to legal privilege. The contents may not be disclosed, copied or
distributed without the consent of Fircroft College. It is intended for the use
of the addressee(s) only. If you are not the intended recipient, delete this
message immediately and advise the sender that you have received it in error.
The statements and opinions expressed in this message are those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect those of the Fircroft College. Whilst the College
makes every effort to ensure this message is virus free, it does not guarantee
that this is the case. It is recipient's responsibility to carry out such virus
checks as it deems necessary. Fircroft College cannot accept responsibility in
this regard.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.fircroft.ac.uk/

Alex Jarvis, Fircroft College of Adult Education

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Williams

I attach the final relevant document in electronic format as requested by
you in your Freedom of Information request.

I hope that the information is useful for your purpose.

Regards

Alex Jarvis

Mrs Alex Jarvis

Head of Staff & Student Support
Fircroft College
1018 Bristol Road
Selly Oak
Birmingham
B29 6LH

Tel: 0121 4720116

www.fircroft.ac.uk

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

[1]www.fircroft.ac.uk

Fircroft College of Adult Education

Rated Outstanding (Grade 1) in all areas by Ofsted, November 2007

The contents of this e-mail and its attachments ('message') are confidential and
may be subject to legal privilege. The contents may not be disclosed, copied or
distributed without the consent of Fircroft College. It is intended for the use
of the addressee(s) only. If you are not the intended recipient, delete this
message immediately and advise the sender that you have received it in error.
The statements and opinions expressed in this message are those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect those of the Fircroft College. Whilst the College
makes every effort to ensure this message is virus free, it does not guarantee
that this is the case. It is recipient's responsibility to carry out such virus
checks as it deems necessary. Fircroft College cannot accept responsibility in
this regard.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.fircroft.ac.uk/

Bill Lawrence left an annotation ()

Hi...............Just came across your FOI questions while "googling" Harry Newton + Fircroft.

In 1977 I took my first post as a part-time trade union studies tutor at Hall Green Tech in B'ham (in the Digbeth annexe). In the 3rd week of my job about an hour after the class began, four or five walked out.
My teaching technique wasn't too good then - perhaps they were fed up with me, I thought.

Later that day I was told these men, all TGWU union reps had been told by the regional sec'y Brian Mathers to boycott my classes as I was the student agitator who with Harry Newton caused the closure of Fircroft.

There are two Bill Lawrence's .......... me, a former drop forge stamper noted as being among the first reps to pursue noise deafness compensation in the early 70's. I went to Aston uni and Lanchester Poly (1975-77). The other I believe went to Cambridge uni after Fircroft and then came back to the west Midlands also as a trade union tutor at Smethwick.

There was always confusion over us. I guess he got blamed for me, as often as I was blamed for him. Over the years I grew more, and more annoyed about him -until in 2001 at the Hazards Campaign conference in UMIST Manchester comrades put the two of us together and we made our peace. There is a great photo of us laughing together.

I worked as a reseacher for union lawyers, including a spell preparing cases against the NCB which saw me working in the coal board HQ's in London for 2 years until the strike started. I was the first person to write in the mining press how miners might get compo for deafness - later this cost the NCB nearly £1000m. At the same time I was meeting all the union leaders and addressing meetings across the country.

For a short time before this I worked as a personnel manager in an engineering factory where making my CP membership open brought me face-to-face with a Min of Defence "stooge" who vetted all my appointments to the technical staff.

I also believe my car was sabataged in Lancashire in the same week as other officials were targetted. (See in "Marching to the Fault Line" Beckett & Henke 2009).
In 1989 when a safety boss at Darlington Council there were problems when the police argued I couldn't be trusted to be the civil defence controller responsible for an emergency centre under the town hall.

In many ways my life and career has been clouded by misunderstandings over the Fircroft College closure.

Perhaps this will all seem anecdotal, at least circumstantial ...... but I don't think it so having lived through so much of it.

Get in touch if you are interested.

More lightheartedly, the former Militant Labour MP Dave Nellist keeps sending me messages which are clearly meant for the other BL who is around Rugby these days!

Bill Lawrence
tohpline2000@yahoo.co.uk
or
workerswrites@yahoo.co.uk

Reg Burns left an annotation ()

Hello there
I just stumbled across this thanks to Google.

I was a student at Fircroft in 1972-3. I clashed a few times with Harry Newton and he insulted me by saying that I was a libertarian anarchist. He had collected a small coterie of other students around him, and was forever criticising the college structure: we students, who were not involved always thought of it as a conspiracy. In lectures and tutorials, he was always great, and helped me with my thinking. I was amazed to discover his involvement, years later, as a spy for MI5. I had always felt that Tony Corfield was somehow in Harry’s sights. I had felt bad at the time, as Tony had been absolutely brilliant with me. However, at that time, I had taken the view that all bosses were the enemy, and that clouded my interactions with Tony.

I moved on to Birmingham Poly immediately after Fircroft, and lost contact.

However, during 1975, we Birmingham Poly students were involved in a demo to support the students currently at Fircroft. To be honest, I was a bit of a rent-a-crowd there; I went to the demo because they seemed to need supporters. I met Tony there, and he was friendly, as always, but told me that I had no idea what the dispute was about, and that the consequences would be bad for all involved in the college. I saw Harry there, but we did not have an opportunity to talk.

I was devastated later to hear that the college had been closed. I was further devastated when the stuff about Harry being a spy came out.
What a business!
Reg Burns 04.09.2011

Bill Lawrence left an annotation ()

What a surprise you should have just written more about Fircroft in the Seventies.

Tony Corfield went on to work with RoSPA, the safety organisation. In my "professional" life his articles have often come across my desk. Working alongside him for many years would have been a former TUC safety adviser, Roger Bibbings who still works there.

I could easily contact the other "BL".

Would it be worthwhile us all having some sort of internet chat to record our stories from that time?

We have a research project underway on Tyneside within the North East Labour History Society - recording such histories. Google "Nelh" and look for PPP project.

I've added my "home" e-mail address as now nearing 70 I'm not too familiar with how these sites work.

Bill Lawrence tohpline2000@yahoo.co.uk

Reg Burns left an annotation ()

Hello Bill,
I think that I was too focussed on my own things after leaving Fircroft, and did not take too much notice of how it went there. It is only in later years that I began to think more realistically about it. I am glad Tony was able to get other work, he was always a pleasant man, and I owe him.

I went to the open day at Fircroft last year, and took lots of photos. I can certainly let you have copies by email if you like.

I have also been in touch with a few old Firkers through Friends Reunited, and have met up with one fellow student, again last year, at the Angel of the North.

I would be happy to try an internet chat, but, to be honest; I am not all that good at it. I am 67.

Fircroft changed my life, as it did many others, and I continue to have pleasant feelings about it.

My email is: regburns@blueyonder.co.uk

Regards Reg