50 Years and Thousands of Lives Transformed

CASBA’s second heritage project is here and thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we’re delighted to be revealing another little-known aspect of Birmingham’s educational and social history; the stories of Birmingham’s special schools.

Up until the end of the 1960s, if a child was assessed to have an IQ of under 50, their family could receive a devastating letter from the Local Education Authority. This would state that they were officially classified as ‘ineducable’, and had no entitlement to a state education. However, after much campaigning, a new Education Act (Handicapped Children) was passed in 1970, which removed the category ‘ineducable’ and ensured rights for all children to an education. Read more about the history of special education here.

In Birmingham in 2018, over 4,000 children attend special schools that cater for their specific educational needs. The work that goes on in these schools is massively important to the families of these children, but not widely understood at all in the community outside, so we are going to interview pupils there to find out what their school lives are like. To give that important historical perspective, we also want to talk to former pupils to see how these schools have changed over the last 50 years. Teachers and parents will also be involved in the project to give their perspectives on what role special schools play in our city and how this has developed.

We are working with four schools; Dame Ellen Pinsent Primary, Fox Hollies, Mayfield and Victoria, all of which will have their own unique histories and experiences to contribute as we uncover more of Birmingham’s Learning Disability heritage.

 

As an advocacy organisation, we only work with adults not children, but all of our citizens speak of their school days as a time that really shaped their lives. It was a period when they felt a part of a community and were able to spend time with other people with similar issues learning about the world. It’s time to celebrate the role that special schools play and recognise the fantastic work that goes on in them. We can’t wait to get started and learn more.

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