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17 May 2017
I am writing to let you know about the future development of our sporting provision.
Those of you who are members of Uptown Experience Tennis Club may have recently been contacted by Gemma and Jane, informing you that the club has been unable to reach an agreement with the school for the hire of our Kidbrooke Park sports facility and will be ceasing operations from 31st August 2017.
I would like to provide you with more context and explain the future plans for sport at Blackheath High.
For some time now, we have been working very successfully to develop the sporting provision in school, increasing our staffing levels by engaging specialist teachers and coaches, and expanding our competitive fixtures and recreational activities for the girls. The number of fixtures played by school teams has more than doubled since I arrived in 2014, and a culture of participation in physical activity and competing for the school continues to grow. This is something for which there is broad support in school, as I know, through my conversations with you.
As part of the next phase of this development, the sports department is looking to train and play fixtures at weekends on our own facilities, in line with a good independent school offer. Many of our competitor schools are based some distance away and are not able to play us after school during the week. This necessitates use of our own grounds at weekends, enabling us to offer the girls a better quality of competition and training, and allowing families more chance to support and spectate.
This improvement has meant reducing the hours available for commercial lettings locally, and we have been in negotiations with our lettings customers, including Uptown Experience Tennis, for a year. We have offered several different configurations of time on the tennis courts and Astroturf, but unfortunately the club has come to the decision that they are not able to adjust their programmes to accommodate our increased usage, or consider an additional venue to supplement the hours available at the Kidbrooke Park site. We are sad that we have not been able to find a way forward for Uptown Tennis to continue to operate, as we are well aware of its role in the local community, not least as many of our school families are members. We remain committed to keeping tennis within our sporting offer and plan to provide coaching for the girls going forward.
Whilst we would have liked to preserve our valuable relationship with Uptown Experience tennis, unfortunately we have not been able to reach an agreement; I can assure you this is not for want of trying. We remain open to further discussions with Uptown Tennis in the future.
Please do talk to your friends and neighbours about what we are trying to achieve and the positive reasons for it. We cherish our privileged position in a beautiful and supportive community and are committed to being good neighbours as well as a superb local school with an excellent sporting provision.