Local charity CASBA have been successful in their bid to secure funding for a second project documenting the city’s Learning Disability history.
Following on from their ground-breaking “From Institution to Community” project, the new two-year “Education is Special” project will work with five special schools, including Victoria School in Northfield and Selly Oak Trust School, to look at how special education has developed over the last 50 years in Birmingham.
Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, this exciting project will bring together current and former pupils at the schools to record their experiences of what it’s like to go to a special school, as well as interviewing teachers and parents.
Chair of CASBA, Deepika Nayyar, said: “Birmingham has a proud history of supporting people with Learning Disabilities throughout their time in education. This project will be a great opportunity for CASBA, our partners and local schools, to reflect on what we can learn from those experiences.”
CASBA’s Heritage Project Coordinator, Joe Peacock, added: “These special schools have played a vital role for thousands of families in Birmingham. Everyone’s school days shape their lives and leave lasting memories and that is just as true for people with Learning Disabilities as anyone else. However, until the education act was passed in 1970, they were seen as ineducable, so there was no compulsory schooling. Fifty years on, it seems like the perfect time to see how this provision has changed and hear what effect it’s had on people’s lives.”
In their first Heritage project, CASBA revealed stories about life in Monyhull Hospital, debunking the myths and ensuring that the voices of local people with Learning Disabilities were heard. This new project will celebrate another little-understood subject through the voices of those that know it best; the incredible work that’s done in Birmingham’s special schools.
Vanessa Harbar, Head of National Lottery Heritage Fund West Midlands, said “We are delighted that thanks to National Lottery players, a little-known aspect of Birmingham’s educational and social history will be uncovered and celebrated.”