The Royal Blind School's Royal Opening

Posted: 03/12/2014 | Education,

The Royal Blind School celebrated a historic day when our Patron, His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester, officially opened the £4.5 million re-developed school building in Morningside on Thursday 27 November.

The school merged its two campuses for the start of the autumn term, moving pupils from the 179-year-old Craigmillar Park to the buildings in Canaan Lane.

The Royal Opening was also attended by Minister for Learning, Dr Allan MSP, the Lord Provost, our President, The Duke of Buccleuch, members of the Scottish and local Government, stakeholders, the architects for the building and our board members.

The pupils got the event off to a fantastic start and stole the show with a number of musical and dramatic performances.

His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester at the Royal Opening of the Royal Blind SchoolKatie-Jane Girvan opened with an excellent rendition of ‘The Windmills of your Mind’ which was followed by a lively and innovative version of ‘Goodness, Gracious Great Balls of Fire’ from Clare Malcolm, Isra Oudeh, Callum Maitland and Andrew Park. Andrew Pettigrew delighted the audience with a reading of his poem, ‘Imagination’, and Jake Murray brought down the curtain with the very moving, A Guardian Angel’.

Richard Hellewell, Chief Executive of Royal Blind, had the unenviable task of following those outstanding performances. He welcomed His Royal Highness and all the distinguished guests, and spoke about the significance of the occasion:

“This marks an important moment in the 180 year history of the Royal Blind School. Leaving the campus on which we have educated pupils with visual impairments for 150 years has been a big step to take but a necessary one and gives us premises that are fit for our present and for our future.

The school is in the process of a gradual transition in line with a clear strategy that the Board set out in 2012, informed by the way our role was already changing in practice following the Support for Learning Act ten years before and a very thorough research exercise. In that gradual transition there are two key moments, and this move is the first. The second will come next year with the launch of our new resource centre service.”

Alasdair Allan MSP, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages, was delighted to be there: “I feel very honoured to have been among the first guests to tour the Royal Blind School following the extensive work to the classrooms and the accommodation. Seeing the staff and pupils in their purpose-built classes really brought home the difference these facilities make. This adaptation is not just about making the learning space brighter and more pleasing – it is about creating a home away from home for the pupils and an environment where they can build up life skills as well as following traditional classes.”

His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester, who is Royal Blind’s Patron, concluded the formalities by declaring the premises officially open and unveiling a commemorative plaque.

Guests then enjoyed afternoon tea, the opportunity to meet His Royal Highness, and the chance to tour the school’s modern, accessible facilities which include wide corridors with contrasting colours to enable independent navigation for pupils with low vision; specialist classrooms, a multi-use games area suitable for children and young people with disabilities, and a flat for visiting parents and carers.