History of the UK's first school for blind people revealed in new exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool

St Vincent’s School for Sensory Impairment, West Derby.

Personal stories and objects reveal the history of the UK’s first school for blind people, in a new exhibition to be staged at the Museum of Liverpool.

Founded in 1791, Liverpool’s Royal School for the Blind, in particular its buildings and the everyday lives of students, is central to The Blind School: Pioneering People and Places, running at the Museum of Liverpool from 26 January until 15 April 2018.

The exhibition features unique objects from the Museum’s own collection alongside loans, personal stories and a film made in partnership with visually impaired and blind students from

The Liverpool Blind School was founded by the blind abolitionist and human rights campaigner Edward Rushton, along with a number of his blind and sighted associates. Rushton had first-hand experience of slavery through working on slave ships. His compassion for, and proximity to enslaved people led him to contract a disease which cost him his sight. As a result of his experiences of blindness and poverty and realising the poor treatment and life chances of many less wealthy blind people, he founded the school to offer training and skills.

The exhibition gives us a moving insight into the daily lives of the pupils, the strict rules that they had to follow, how they crafted superb objects for sale and their leisure pursuits. The exhibition also considers how although learning trades enabled students to earn a living this sometimes replaced the basic education they were entitled to.

Kay Jones, Curator of Urban Community History said: “We are proud to be working with History of Place on this exhibition. The story of Liverpool’s Royal School for the Blind is not only a fascinating local story but has a much

broader relevance too. The School has been through many changes and this exhibition draws on these to reflect changing attitudes in society.

“This remarkable, pioneering school was set up in Liverpool by blind and sighted individuals. As only the second school of its kind in the world, it led the way in educating and empowering blind people. It has changed hundreds of people’s lives in its almost 300 year history, and continues to do so.” blindschool

Hip hop dance stars turn out to help Hillingdon Manor School

Boy Blue Entertainment, UMA, Definitive, IMD, Unity and all girl trio Code 3 are among the big names in hip hop who have signed up to appear at a benefit night at the Broadway Theatre in East London on January 20th, 2018 to raise money to send street dance group Autism with Attitude, a group of 12 to 15 young people with autism, from Hillingdon Manor School, Uxbridge to the United Dance Organisations (UDO) European Championships in Kalkar in Germany in May 2018.

The school, an Outcomes First Group centre of excellence in education and development for children aged 5 - 19 with an autistic spectrum condition (ASC), is taking the group to perform in front of an international audience. Autism with Attitude have made history by being the first special needs dance team to qualify for the European Championships and will be ambassadors for autism, showing what young people with disabilities can achieve. Some of the students have never been abroad before but they are no stranger to the world of dance performance. They are all highly trained and have worked hard to build both their physical abilities and their performance skills.

School staff are working on travel arrangements, looking for a local hotel close to the venue and trying to make sure everything is as calm and organised as possible so that the students, who are all on the autistic spectrum, can give their very best.

The first step is to raise money for the trip and dance teacher Jonathan Baron has been revisiting his industry contacts, networking and taking the


students to perform and participate in different events. "This is huge," he said. "All the artists I have spoken to are really proud of Autism with Attitude and are keen to show their support by giving their time and energy to make the fundraiser a success."

Autism with Attitude has certainly made an impression on the world of hip hop dance and will be meeting some of their idols. "Boy Blue Entertainment is an award-winning hip-hop dance company founded in London by choreographer Kenrick 'H2O' Sandy and composer Michael 'Mikey J' Asante," said Jonathan. "Our students study them for GCSE; now they're performing on the same bill." autism-with-attitude-fundraise

January 2018

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