Victoria School

“Working together for success”

Project run by CASBA

General information


Victoria School is on Bell Hill in Northfield.


Julie Fardell is the Executive Head Teacher.


Number of Pupils and Staff: Victoria has about 200 pupils and over 160 staff.


Many of the children attending the school have medical problems as well as Learning Disabilities


They provide education for 2-year-olds up to 25-year-olds.


Victoria is part of a federation of schools and colleges, sharing a campus with Victoria College and Longwill school for Deaf Children.


It celebrated 100 years from its opening in 2005.

Early days

The school first opened on 1st February 1905 with 24 pupils.
Miss A Quaiffe was the Head Teacher for the first 21 years.
The first four Head Teachers were all women; Miss Quaiffe, Miss Brown, Miss Webb and Miss Clarke.
The Birmingham Crippled Children’s Association helped to set the school up.
It was originally in the centre of Birmingham. It was called the School for Crippled Children Jenkins St.
The school moved to Little Green Lane in 1909.

New equipment

Children came to school in horse-drawn ambulances for the first 20 years.
The first electric lift was installed in 1938.
The school first had hot water in 1939.

Moving to Northfield

The school moved to Bell Hill in 1964.
It was then called The Victoria School for Physically Handicapped Children.

The Victoria
School in 1964

This is a plan of the school buildings when it opened.


Thanks to the Friends of Victoria, the school has raised lots of money for new buildings and facilities.
The Friends of Victoria won an award for Voluntary service and went to a Royal Garden Party to receive it.
They also arrange events for families, as well as fundraising events.


The school’s motto is:

“Working together for success”.

 The logo was designed by the husband of one of the staff.

Victoria’s vision is to:

“Increase every individual pupil’s knowledge and understanding of the world so that their full potential may be achieved.”.

Our stories

Pat Miles

Pat Miles played the piano at the opening of Victoria School’s new building on Bell Hill in Northfield in 1964. When we spoke to her in 2020, she still had a great attachment to the school and was still in touch with some of the pupils she taught when working there.

Very few teachers nowadays would have the dedication to keep coming into the school after retiring and keep up those relationships over so many years. But that is what Pat did. Even after retiring in the 1980s, she continued coming in to play the piano or teach the children to sing, as well as teaching ballet and tap outside of school hours. She remembers:

“I used to play music for the children while they were doing exercises in the hall. It was better to keep them singing, so they enjoyed that rather than just doing physio.”

I think it is wonderful to be able to build up a trusting relationship with a teacher and still keep in touch with them so many years later. It shows what a remarkable woman Pat is and what an inspiring teacher she was for all those that she taught. Not just that but it shows how times have changed. These days, it is not the quite the same; you can build up a great trust with a teacher and go back to visit the school and the teaching staff when you left but you can’t have a friendship with them, like Pat has with so many of the people she has taught.

“I have quite a bit of contact still with students I used to teach. There are 20 of them that I exchange Christmas cards with still.”

Before working at Victoria, Pat taught in mainstream school for over 10 years. She felt that there wasn’t much difference between the schools other than there being 40 in a class in mainstream, whereas the classes were much smaller in special schools, “It was like a normal school, except you had the nurses and physios. Back then, there were far less people in wheelchairs, or with the really severe conditions you see these days. Things changed in 1970, when it became a legal right for everyone to have an education.”

Pat remembers seeing the strain that families with disabled children were under. She also saw that the attitudes of people towards those with a disability were that they should be kept hidden away and not seen. However, she made sure that people in her family were used to interacting with disabled people, so her nephew and niece both grew up and worked in jobs connected with disability.

Pat‘s biggest worry is that there is nothing for students once they leave education as all the day centres are closing down. “In one sense, you’ve got the college at the top which wasn’t there before, but when they finish there is still nothing which is wicked to me. There are so many jobs that used to exist, which just aren’t available now because of technology.”

It was a delight to meet Pat she is a really warm and caring person and as said a really inspiration to everyone that has she met, most people we have spoken to have got fond memories of Pat teaching at Victoria.

Read more

Graham Male

For Graham Male, Victoria is more than just a school, it’s family. His uncle worked there before him and his son, Barry, still works there as a Teaching Assistant today.

He started his career delivering meat but was persuaded by his uncle who’d been working at Victoria since 1964, when it moved to Bell Hill in Northfield, to apply for a job there. In his words:
“They needed strong people to carry the children on and off the buses, because there were no hoists in those days.”

When he first started working there as a Welfare Officer, his job was to pick up the kids, but also to work in the bathrooms helping with personal care. Another task was to drive the kids and take them on regular day trips. There was no paperwork as Health and Safety regulations were far less strict in those days, so they had more freedom to take the children out. “There were trips a lot more in those days – there would be one every day”

Through his time at Victoria, he saw a lot of changes, from transport, to the equipment and the layout of the classrooms. It was really interesting to hear his memories of Victoria, the problems that they had, how they moved the children and remembering where the classrooms used to be.

He remembered the room we were in as the woodwork room. It is now the class for one of the post 16 groups. There was also a metal work room, showing how much more emphasis there used to be on such practical skills.

The room where the reception and main office is now, used to be where they stored the wheelchairs. A lot of children didn’t take their wheelchairs home, so they were put away at the end of each day and got out for them when they arrived in the morning.

This meant there was lots of manual work for Graham and his colleagues, who had to carry children on and off the buses. They weren’t adapted for wheelchairs and were much bigger than the minibuses they have today, so couldn’t go up some of the smaller roads, meaning the journey took a lot longer. Staff also had to carry them in and out of the swimming pools and on and off benches when changing their clothes.

He later changed job to Technician because things kept breaking down and the school realised it was spending a lot of money replacing them. He would build and repair various pieces of furniture that were needed in the classrooms. He feels that the building is much better equipped for the children’s tuition now, as the technology has moved on a lot. He remembers when they used to have fixed tables that couldn’t be adjusted for wheelchair users and no computers at all. “Until 15 or 20 years ago all the tables were fixed and couldn’t be adjusted for wheelchair users”.

It was lovely meeting Graham and very interesting to hear his stories and all the memories he has got of Victoria; he thoroughly enjoyed his time working there and his family has been involved in the school ever since it’s been in Northfield.

Read more

The story of the student from the 1960s

Phylis is the only student we have found who studied at Victoria School before it moved to Northfield. She is now in her 60s but she is still friends with one of her former teachers Pat Miles who comes to visit her at Focus day centre in Harborne.

Phylis had some really happy times at Victoria, although she spent most of her time at her home and in hospital due to Hydrocephalus, which is a condition where fluid takes place in the brain. The build-up of pressure that this caused in her brain led to Phylis losing her eyesight in her early 20s. Despite this she is always smiling and enjoys dancing.

At Victoria, Phylis learnt many different things and can still remember some of the things that she learnt with her favourite teacher Pat Miles. She can still count to 3 in French, and remembers playing the piano, recorder, and the organ.
Reflecting on her time at the school, she says her favourite time of the day was break time because they had milk in bottles, which she really enjoyed.

Phylis has always been really caring and helpful, always laughing and smiling and this is shown in her memory of the school trip to Bognor Regis. There she helped the other children by pushing their wheelchairs. They went for about a week and she had a lovely time and enjoys talking about the holiday.

Phylis also talked about the nativity plays and Christmas at Victoria. She thinks that she played an angel, and they made their own Christmas cards and decorations.

It was lovely talking to Phylis about her time at Victoria and all her memories that she had at school. She is an inspiration and is loved very much by lots of different people.

Thank you Phylis for sharing your story.

Reported by Jennifer Brown

Read more
View more stories