The Royal School for deaf children

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The influential Milan conference in  1880 decided that the Oral Method of educating deaf children was superior to sign language. The Margate School appointed teachers in the Oral Method. Ninety years later a report by the British Deaf and Dumb Association said that the suppression of sign language had significantly damaged the education of generations of deaf children.


The School closed its doors in December 2015 after more than 220 years.


The School moved to large purpose built premises on the Kent Road in 1809. A few years later, in 1815 the London school was hugely oversubscribed. Children from all over the country wanted to join the School. A witness described 73 applicants applying for only 15 places.


The Gothic tower at the School used to be scaled by students, as a rite of passage, quite unknown to the staff.  They would leave their mark inside the tower.  One terrible night, in 1950 a student fell from the tower, trying to complete this challenge.  Even at this stage, no one knew the tower had been climbed by the students for this purpose until the old building was being dismantled, the tower was taken down and their graffiti was found inside it.


The School opens a branch in Margate and eventually moves its whole operation from London to the seaside town, so that residents can benefit from the fresh air. The School has an imposing redbrick building with turrets.


England’s first public institution for deaf children known as ‘London Asylum for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb Children of the Poor’ was started in London in 1792. It was the result of campaigning by a Bermondsey priest, Rev John Townsend, who believed education for deaf children should not just be for the very wealthy.