Troubador Those Derby Days

Released: 28/09/2017

ISBN: 9781788033596

Format: Paperback

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Those Derby Days

A history of The Derby School for the Partially Sighted


This book tells the unique story of the first ever school specialising in educating partially sighted children in Britain, The Derby School for the Partially Sighted, Fulwood, Preston. From testimony of ex-pupils, the author describes how this fledgling school struggled to meet the challenges of a new concept in education. Teachers having to adapt from instructing the blind to implementing the revolutionary new methods in educating the visually impaired. The author describes a time when it was thought acceptable to categorise and segregate disabled children, taking them away from family and all that was familiar to give them "a better chance in life" at a boarding school similar to the Victorian institution from which it was born. The author describes the pioneering work of Ken Bridge and his staff to keep this small school at the cutting edge, always searching for new forms of investment and later, when attitudes changed towards more integration, how the school fought to remain open – taking the campaign to Downing Street and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. With the battle lost and the gates finally closed, the author describes the continued camaraderie and fellowship of the ex-staff and students brought together through adversity and determined to keep the spirit of this unique, pioneering little school alive.

Being neither visually impaired nor from Preston, when I came across this book I presumed I wouldn’t give it more than a perfunctory glance. So it is a credit to its author that I read it from beginning to end without stopping. I liked the way he demonstrated the passage of time through the external events we are all familiar with. And he portrayed this pioneer school so well that I even found myself, an outsider, saddened at its eventual closure. Back in those harsh days, when corporal punishment was deemed necessary in most schools for even trivial offences, I personally think that segregation might really have been the better option for a differently-abled child. We are so lucky that times have changed. But what the author also makes clear, and this hasn’t changed, is that special friends and dedicated teachers are what make everyone’s schooldays memorable.

by Margaret Courtney

Garry Cheesbrough

From Castleford, West Yorkshire, a coal miner's son. Educated at a special boarding school for partially sighted children. Always had a keen interest in social history I was taught research techniques while taking my Certificate in Education at Leeds University, I currently work in Cloud based technology at Leeds City College.

Garry Cheesbrough
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