Celebrate 220 years of classes that open up world to the deaf
THE Royal School for Deaf Children celebrates its 220th birthday next week with a celebration in Margate for past and present staff and students.
Everyone is welcome to visit the top-class facilities at one of the country's oldest institutions.
The boarding school was set up by philanthropist John Townsend in 1792 as the London Asylum for the Deaf Children of the Poor and later built an annexe in Victoria Road.
The grand old building was demolished to make way for new facilities, which have expanded thanks to support from funds such as the John Townsend and Colyer-Fergusson Trusts.
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The school links in with the community wherever it can: its medical centre is shared with Canterbury Christ Church University and a new £1.7 million hydrotherapy centre will provide disabled leisure facilities for the community.
Students with hearing or communication difficulties can follow a host of vocational courses and take part-time work to prepare them for life after school.
Whether it's catering and maintenance at the school, retail in its two charity shops or work at its 100-acre farm.
Students help to manage the land near Faversham with courses in crop cultivation and cattle rearing.
Monkshill meat is now supplied to top London restaurants and prepares pupils for a career in agriculture.
James Holloway, 25, now works at the school as a mentor after spending most of his childhood as a pupil. He has been profoundly deaf from an early age and now looks after six students. He said: "I went to a mainstream school but I couldn't lipread everyone so communication was difficult.
"It was so frustrating as I couldn't learn properly.
"The school was great as you meet other people in the same situation and now I can work with the lads here as I know what they're going through."
Sixth-formers now attend Westgate College, established in 1978, which caters for pupils aged 16 to 22, with vocational courses and accommodation preparing them for independence and employment.
The school's anniversary open day takes place next Saturday (October 20).
For more information, visit www.rsdcm.org.uk