The magnificent building, Donaldson's, has been the centre for the education of deaf children in Scotland since the 1850s.
The history of education for deaf children in Britain begins in Edinburgh. The first school, the Braidwood Academy, was established in Edinburgh in 1760 but moved to England in 1810. Several of the teachers remained to teach in the Edinburgh Institution for the Deaf and Dumb which, in turn merged with Donaldson's Hospital in 1937. Over the years, the name changed from Hospital to School and finally College but it will always be remembered as Donaldson's.
In 1830, James Donaldson, an Edinburgh printer and bookseller, left a legacy for the foundation of Donaldson's Hospital. It has always been an enlightened establishment, having equal numbers of deaf and normally-hearing pupils until 1938 and using sign-language at a time when the rest of Europe had adopted a totally oral education system (to the detriment of the Deaf, but that is a story for another day).
I did my studies in the Education of the Deaf at Oxford, but was greatly influenced by the ethos of Donaldson's and I spent many years campaigning for English educational establishments to adopt Scottish methods and attitudes. I recall a BBC documentary on Donaldson's School, shown some time in the 1970s, which illustrated the 'Donaldson attitude'. The interviewer was speaking to a teacher while her pupils were getting on with their work. As she was speaking , the teacher was simultaneously signing her responses and the interviewer asked her why she was doing that when the children were not included in the conversation. Her explanation was that a class of hearing children could overhear or deliberately listen in to a conversation if they chose to and she wanted Deaf children to have the same opportunity. A small incident but one which had a profound influence on my classroom practice and on everything I've written and spoken about in my professional life since.
Today's edition of See Hear on BBC 2 featured the move of Donaldsons College from the wonderful William Playfair building in Edinburgh to this modern campus in Linlithgow.
The old building, which Queen Victoria considered to be grander than any of her palaces, is going to be 'redeveloped', doubtless into luxury apartments. I'm sure the new facilities at Linlithgow will be excellent but more important will be the transfer of the real spirit of Donaldson's from the old buildings to the new. I wish all the staff and students well in their new home.
You can see this episode of See Hear on BBC iPlayer for the next seven days and it will be shown again in the overnight Sign Zone on BBC 1 on Tues 26/Wed 27 February.