Pupils get sparkling send-off as school quits historic home

Share this article

FOR more than 150 years, deaf children have been taught at one of the most iconic and eye-catching buildings in Edinburgh.

But staff and pupils are today preparing to leave Donaldson's College as it closes its doors to make way for luxury flats.

The college threw a lavish fireworks party to signal the end of its stay at the distinctive green-roofed building near Haymarket, built in 1851.

The world-renowned deaf school's new home will be at a purpose-built campus in Linlithgow.

College principal Janice MacNeill said it was a sad occasion for staff but that the school had to move.

Only a handful of the A-listed building's 264 rooms are currently used by the school and repairs are becoming increasingly expensive.

She said: "It is a sad day for a lot of staff, some of whom have been here for 30 years, and some who even came here as deaf pupils.

"It is an iconic building in Edinburgh, a lovely, lovely building, known throughout education circles because it is so magnificent.

"But it was no longer fit for purpose and was becoming increasingly difficult to educate children in."

Staff and students will begin the new term at the specially built multi-million pound campus at Preston Road, Linlithgow, where work started in early 2006.

Classrooms have been designed to accommodate six pupils at a time, while children of nursery, primary and secondary age will be divided into separate wings to mix more with their own age group.

Each classroom has been installed with a Soundfield system, which helps children who have hearing difficulties make out sounds clearer, as well as an interactive white board.

A gym, swimming pool, fitness room, dining room, library and assembly room are also included in the new facility, while all the 24 rooms have en suite bathrooms and cooking areas.

Mrs MacNeill, who has been principal at the college since 2005, added: "The facilities at this new place are absolutely tremendous and the staff will be really well equipped.

"Although there were mixed emotions about leaving, I think everyone realises this has to happen.

"This event was for the staff to give them a chance to say goodbye.

"Cala Homes have bought the site and they are going to make improvements to the building, and they can afford to do that, but the famous look of it won't be lost.

"Neither will the Donaldson's name, which we felt was important, as we take history with us into the future."