“I WON’T TRY TO SAVE THE DEAF SCHOOL”

NIGEL UTTON

There has been uproar over the unexpected closure of the Royal School For The Deaf in Margate with many people calling for its reopening. But NIGEL UTTON, until recently head of Bromstone Primary School in Broadstairs, takes a different view

I’m afraid I won’t be signing any petitions about saving the Royal School for the Deaf.

When I was a head-teacher in Thanet, my school had close links with the Royal School, as we did with all the special schools. My staff and children learned British Sign Language and we welcomed many BSL users into the school.

My school was recognised as the most inclusive school in Kent. We did our best to cater for all children’s needs whether they were physical, psychological, intellectual, social, racial, religious, sensory or gender issues.

I know some of you swapped your children from other schools because of my school’s welcoming reputation. The teachers at the Royal School were doing a wonderful job from what I saw and have amazing skills.

I just don’t believe that in the 21st century there is any need for segregated education.

Their skills should be used in all schools. Our society gets better when our children learn to love each other by being together, not segregated.

Kent is probably one of the least inclusive counties with its dreadful selective system at age ten, which is why the battle for fully inclusive education here, with a grossly unfair funding system eventually defeated me.

Despite this at Bromstone we proved that it can be done and it is a wonderful thing.

This is what I think our Labour Party should be fighting to establish.

So count me out of the campaign to save the Royal School for the Deaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 comments

  1. There is a limitation to what can be achieved in a normal school setting. I chose Bromstone for my son’s early education precisely because they integrated educating those with sensory disability. However there are serious care issues for some people desperate for this kind of education including, nursing care, hydrotherapy pools, special sensory environments and equipment that are not feasible, with the best will in the world in a normal state school environment that struggles to house and equip it’s pupils without additional fundraising and volunteer support. What happens to those who require residential support too?

  2. It’s sad and probably with personal motivation the the Bromsgrove head wasn’t supportive of RSDCM. Having volunteered and worked there and with over 10 years of inclusive education experience in other establishments I have been rewarded by working alongside many delightful pupils and staff. Many pupils at RSDCM were so complex in their social, learning and emotional development, and needing substantial levels of specialist adult support, often round the clock that to include them in a welcoming but mainstream environment would have not only hindered their progress but that of their classmates. In 2016 there should be placements that suit every individual need and learning style and pupils should not have to try and fit into schools just because they have available space!

  3. Inclusion for many deaf children is only really feasible where the people around them use BSL. Otherwise what looks like inclusion is really solitary confinement or sensory deprivation, with the deaf child isolated from their peers and the curriculum by the good intentions of surrounding them with non hearing impaired children and staff. Killing with kindness in fact, while the education system fails them. Deaf children are probably the only community, other than the severely autistic, for whom this is true.

  4. I would welcome nigel utton to contact me to discuss which mainstream school he thinks my 11 year old would be inclusive in?

  5. Feel sorry for all at school and college I was there working for a long time And blame the management to much bullying went on and safeguarding dreadful.

  6. I agree with both the above comments – this man has an idealistic view and it simply is not right for everyone – the children are the most important, my daughter was bullied terribly in mainstream school and mainstream youth clubs! Our children don’t need to be Guinea pigs so your kids can learn some compassion and understanding ! Parents and teachers should teach that !

    1. Absolutely! Children with disabilities are not here to teach others compassion, inspire them or make headteachers look saintly. They are individuals with sometimes complex needs that require an individual approach. His idea of support for a deaf child in his school was to share his signer TA with an autistic child who often needed to leave the classroom due to sensory overload. Leaving the deaf child confused and falling behind. Or the autistic child a danger to self and others.

  7. “I just don’t believe that in the 21st century there is any need for segregated education.” Us too, but properly integrated is not on offer! These kids have many other complex needs, not catered for. Don’t you think we’d have gone down that route if they were?

    “Their skills should be used in all schools. Our society gets better when our children learn to love each other by being together, not segregated.” The entire reason we went for RSDCM was because it was the one place where our children were NOT segragated. No other school provided for their needs. inculding Bromstone…otherwise belive me, we’d have gone for it. Our child was born with cerebral palsy, autism, ataxia, profound deafness. mainsteam rejected her.

    “Kent is probably one of the least inclusive counties with its dreadful selective system at age ten, which is why the battle for fully inclusive education here, with a grossly unfair funding system eventually defeated me.” The children of RSDCM were defeated by mainstream education WAY before ten….hence needing specialist provision. And moving across GB to try to access it. If it was on offer elsewhere, believe me, we’d have gone for it.

    “Despite this at Bromstone we proved that it can be done and it is a wonderful thing” Nope. You proved you could cope with BSL, not BSL needs with multiple medical needs and other educational needs, learning and behavioural disabilities on top. Which is what RSDCM offered….uniquely in Britain. As I say, if it could have been provided – or even offered – in mainsteam, we’d have been there. It simply wasn’t. And the consequence of the inadequate offer, if accepted, would to have been marginalised kids preventing the other ‘normal’ kids from getting the education they needed. Teachers and TAs can only give so much. Without the numbers needed, these kids would absorb all of their attention preventing the other kids from learning. Specialist provision because it’s needed….not because we fancy it as spoilt brat parents.Believe me, none of us know what spoilt is. Try it for a second Nigel Utton. You may find our lives slightly more problematic than you think….easy words from someone who hasn’t , clearly, a clue of the impact. These comments are irresponsible and stupid and show a complete lack of intellect or understanding of these kids and their highly specific needs. Hence the fact that none of us would have been able to place our kids in a place where this is the thought of the very people potentially managing their education.

    “This is what I think our Labour Party should be fighting to establish.” no one is fighting for it.

    “So count me out of the campaign to save the Royal School for the Deaf” Thanks, mate. What silly, uneducated comments. You clearly have no clue. Hence the fact that we are all in such dire straits.

  8. Inclusion is not suitable for all children with SNs. RSDCM catered for some of those children; specifically those with more complex needs; some were not deaf.

    Mr Utton, I am rather astounded to read that someone in your position truly believes that “inclusion suits all”. Fortunately, your opinion and indeed your “decision” not to sign any petitions to save our school is largely irrelevant now. Our school is lost. Our provision gone. The skills of 100s of, as it turned out, under-valued, specialist staff, scattered to the wind. But make no mistake, this was due to a catestropic financial collapse, NOT a lack of need amongst our children and families nor a lack of skills among the frontline staff that we relied on so much.

    RSDCM was more than a school.. It was a framework of support as complex as the children themselves. Perhaps you need to feel the loss of it as we do, to truly understand what we are now without

  9. I am writing my dissertation for my masters degree about the provision for deaf children within mainstream education. I used to be a member of staff at Deaf School and know full well the complex and specialist support that those within the school needed. I’m keen to get direct quotes from anyone for and against inclusion of deaf children into mainstream schools. I would welcome any and all comments on this subject.

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