On Thursday 29th November, we opened our new provision for hearing or visually impaired children. The original tender was put to Stockton Borough Council way back in March 2017 so Thursday saw the culmination of 18 months of hard work. A special guest, Stuart Myers, was invited as well as representatives from the Local Authority, the Governing Body, other neighbouring authorities and, of course, the wonderful Preston team. Stuart began the afternoon with an inspirational talk to the children followed by tea and cakes and then a talk to the invited adults. The base can be accessed by up to 20 children who meet the criteria, published by Stockton LA. The school is currently training a specialist VI teacher and a specialist HI teacher. Throughout last year, 20 staff worked with Sunshine Sign and Signature to pass their Level One in British Sign Language. Of these 10 are now studying Level Two!
The provision consists of a specially equipped classroom, therapy room and office suite. In addition, all of the other classrooms are being acoustically treated as well as having Soundfield systems installed. The provision has been named “The Wright Rooms” after William Wright, a Year 5 pupil who was our inspiration for the original bid. William and his parents attended the opening which was very emotional for all concerned. William said afterwards: “I can’t believe you’ve actually named it after me, I am so excited to work with other children just like me!” For me, the highlight of the entire afternoon was when Stuart asked the children at the beginning of the assembly if he was different. Stuart was born with no arms so has a clear physical difference to all of the other people in the room. The children, however, gave a mixed response to the question with just about half of them answering no. For me, as head teacher, this spine-tingling moment epitomised what we are about as a school. We teach the children about differences but celebrate both individuality and similarities. The children’s answer showed our vision for the school in a very real situation, something which is usually so difficult to see – you just feel it when you walk around the building. Afterward, Stuart posted on his Facebook page, World at your feet, “Yesterday was a very busy day, but absolutely inspiring. I spent the afternoon at Preston Primary in Eaglescliffe to deliver two talks to the children then to the staff and VIP’s. I then attended the opening of their new special needs base. What a school that is……….amazing!”