Welcome to
Education is Special

This is our online exhibition for CASBA’s project about special education in Birmingham supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. We hope you enjoy discovering new stories about this important part of local history. 

This first section is a general introduction. After that you can learn about the history of special education, how special education is different to mainstream schools, what life in schools is like and what issues special school pupils face outside and after school.

Why are we doing
an online exhibition?

Originally, we planned to have exhibitions in community spaces around Birmingham. We wanted people to be able to explore the stories and listen to our interviewees talking about their experiences. Unfortunately, because of coronavirus restrictions, we had to move everything online. 

We believe it is important to include the stories of people with Learning Disabilities in Birmingham’s heritage. We want as many people as possible to learn about this area. We want to challenge any myths and show what the students at these schools can do.

Not everyone with a Learning Disability goes to a special school. We think special schools play an important role. They give a lot of support. They create a community for the people who go there. Please explore the exhibition to find out more.

4 short films about our project

These animated films tell the story of our project. You can either watch them all now or come back to them later. 

They are narrated by Jennifer Brown, our Heritage Project Assistant, who has personal experience of special schools.

Click the button
to watch each video

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2

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4

Our Magazine

We had a limited number of these magazines printed because it is hard to see people and give them out at the moment. Some of the material in the exhibition is based on the magazine, but they are not exactly the same, so please take your time and enjoy reading it.

Click the Magazine to read
it full screen​!

EDUCATION IS SPECIAL

FOX HOLLIES SCHOOL

The school’s name comes from the place where it first opened. In 1970, Fox Hollies Special School opened in Acocks Green.

The school was very well connected in the local community and had help in fundraising from the local police and social clubs.

It was a small building with all the classrooms based around a central hall area, where everyone could meet.

Now Fox Hollies shares a campus with Queensbridge School in Moseley.

It was also hoped that this would help overcome barriers:

“Pupils from the two schools are taught to relate positively to each other in a way that benefits everyone.”

There is a sensory room as well as an outdoor space which is used for gardening and playing.

Both schools had a strong focus on the performing arts, so they thought it would be good to work more closely together.

At Fox Hollies, Luci, Callum, Nathan, Reece and Josh did a brilliant job of helping us to collect stories and photos that we could use. They really taught us a lot about the school.

MAYFIELD SCHOOL

Mayfield is the second biggest special school in Birmingham.

For some of the students, English is not their first language, which adds extra difficulties for them in learning.

Nowadays, the school is much more strictly organised and professional, but it still has a very positive and friendly feel and a strong focus on performing arts. 

Mayfield has seen a lot of change, but still has strong links to its history through the dedicated long-serving staff.

At Mayfield, we had a wonderful time working with Hassanain, Shakur, Rashaan, Eesha and Joshua. They were full of enthusiasm, collecting a large number of surveys and recording some fantastic interviews.

dame ellen
pinsent
SCHOOL

This school will celebrate its 120th birthday in 2021 and it has changed a lot over that time!

It is now a primary school, but until the early 1990s, it was also a secondary school for boys.

All the classes are named after different animals.

Everyone talks of the welcoming, friendly atmosphere that is still there even as the school has got bigger. 

A new build extension (The Ellen Building) was opened on Monday 6th June 2016. It has a computing room and cooking room.

The school has had problems with flooding, which is why it’s been hard to find any old photos.

As well as all the modern facilities, the school has some lovely green spaces where the children do forest school activities. They also have lots of space to hold fetes and parties for the children’s families. 

The enthusiasm of all the pupils and staff for the school is clear to see.

VIRTUAL TOUR OF THE SCHOOL

Thanks to Amy, Matthew, George and Nathan at Dame Ellen Pinsent school for their excellent work in collecting stories there. Despite being our youngest group, they were great interviewers.

VICTORIA
SCHOOL

The Birmingham Crippled Children’s Association helped to set the school up. Their focus was mainly on children with physical disabilities.

In the early days, facilities were very basic. They had horse drawn ambulances to bring the children to school and there was no hot water.

The new school building was built in the 1960s, although many parts of it have been extended and improved since then. 

Victoria is now part of a federation of schools and colleges, sharing a campus with Victoria College and Longwill school for Deaf Children in Northfield. Cherry Oak Primary School is also part of the federation.

For those who visit the school for the first time, it can seem like quite a maze trying to find your way round it. Everything is on one level, so it is accessible for the many wheelchair users.

They have a swimming pool, sensory room, and lots of play equipment.

The school has a very active Friends of Victoria group, who have raised lots of money to pay for new facilities and trips for the students. 

The school first opened in 1905 on Jenkins Street in Small Heath.

After only four years, the school moved to Little Green Lane, where it must have shared the site with Dame Ellen Pinsent School.

In 1964, they moved to a new purpose-built school on Bell Hill in Northfield, which was named The Victoria School for Physically Handicapped Children.

Our Victoria group were inspirational. Harry, Taylor, Josh, Aioslin, Amaan and Yash were superb ambassadors for the project in the school. They made sure everyone knew about it, collected lots of surveys and did a great job of interviewing.

DISCOVER THE SCHOOL NOW