Opinion: Loss of quirky place for quirky people ...

Spotting the article '˜New Name and New Site for YCC' in The Scarborough News I assumed this had little to do with Westwood-goers such as myself, as we have already undergone changes this year, becoming Scarborough School of Arts.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 10:00 am
Yorkshire Coast College Westwood School of Art and Design.
Yorkshire Coast College Westwood School of Art and Design.

I was disheartened to see that it regarded the whole of YCC, and that after over a century, Westwood is closing its doors to students.

We are moving to Filey Road under the name Scarborough TEC – above all though, I was upset not to learn this via the college 
itself. The building has a rich history, from its opening in the early 20th century as the Municipal School, to its merger with St Martin’s to become the Scarborough High School for Boys.

After a period as a Secondary Modern under the Butler Act, Westwood housed the SJT in 1976 – a “temporary” lease that lasted for 20 years, sharing space with Scarborough Technical College. SJT hosted 232 productions at Westwood, until 1996 when it moved home, making room for the Yorkshire Coast College we know today.

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This is another chapter for Westwood – it has required serious renovation work for some time. As a listed building, renovations will be an arduous process not feasible for us a college to take on, regardless of money – the big issue here is how Grimsby Institute and YCC have handled it. With such sudden news there’s multiple questions on our lips regarding the building and our education.

We’ve already lost staff, including our Performing Arts tutor, leaving that department without teachers – delaying productions – after the music tutor covering Performing Arts lessons stepped down to focus on his students following the loss of a teacher in his department. Our technician left; and we feared that two Art tutors might also go, until Higher Education students demanded to know why they paid for a course sans teachers.

We are searching for a new Performing Arts tutor, but getting to know the syllabus and students takes time.

Students are also anxious about integration with the main site. We’re an eccentric bunch at Westwood, used to expressing ourselves – but life could be different on the main site with the ‘traditional’ courses.

Could we be ostracised for our quirks? It’s normal to oppress ourselves to blend in with society, but it’s the opposite of what we need as arts students, where creativity and expression are vital for achieving success in our fields. This might not happen, but we are very separate sites, and speculation is rife. We don’t expect to all get along, but perhaps some collaborative projects between the two campuses would be a good first step? We organise several events at Westwood, yet never work with the main site – couldn’t we have the catering department to put on a spread, or the Constructions course help set up equipment? This could help us build friendships while working on our studies.

Hull Campus has great facilities, but it is going to need adapting to be suitable for teaching all 20 courses offered at YCC by next September. Tutors will be trying to get the best for their students, for which we are grateful, but funding and time is limited, and axing employees over this period only increases stress.

Plans need to be made – the recording studios belonging to Hull University are being sold separately to the main site, so more will have to be built before next September (amongst other facilities); and we will sorely miss our Theatre in the Round.

The University Campus will be teaching students until June: how can we expect the college to be ready in such a small time-frame, with most of the planning work being done by tutors, likely in their own time, considering we are already running on skeleton staff?

It’s an inevitable move – not the first, and maybe not the last, but I’d really like some answers. Thanks to our tutors for all the work they’re putting in keeping Westwood running. Those who have left us will be sorely missed. Let’s make sure we go out with a flourish.