22 May 2015

Pupils at a specialist school in Sheffield were given the Royal seal of approval last week following a visit from Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex.

The Earl visited Talbot Specialist School in Norton where he unveiled a plaque to commemorate his visit, and signed the visitors’ book.

But he was especially keen to talk to students and staff about their experiences in achieving The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, an exceptional achievement given the complexity of needs presented by the pupils.

Prince Edward, who has himself completed a Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award, is also on the Board of Trustees for the Award.

Judith Smith, Executive Head said: “It was fantastic to have His Royal Highness here at the school and made us feel very special. But it is the students who deserve the credit for their incredible achievements in completing the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

“This is a gruelling challenge for most able-bodied students so for our children it was doubly gratifying for them to complete something which many may have thought was beyond their reach. I for one am extremely proud of them.”

Mrs Smith and Carolyn Sutcliffe, Head of School, gave The Earl a tour of the school, which is the only specialist school for Sheffield’s young people in the 11–19 year age group with cognitive and learning difficulties.

The Earl of Wessex was introduced to staff and pupils who eagerly demonstrated the full range of learning which takes place each day, including Rebound Therapy, communication skills and guitar lessons.

The tour ended with an energetic performance entitled “No Fear, Shakespeare” in which five Shakespeare plays were performed within just 10 minutes. This involved all members of the school, using voice, physical movement and technology skills.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, who also met the Earl on his visit to Talbot Specialist School, added: “It was wonderful to meet His Royal Highness and all the students were excellent ambassadors for the school, and a real credit to themselves and their families.

“I really enjoyed meeting the students, staff and school governors and was really impressed by their work and achievements. The final performance of five Shakespeare plays in 10 minutes performed by students, accompanied by the whole student body, was outstanding – better that some Shakespeare plays I’ve seen in the theatre.”

The school moved in January 2009 to a new purpose-built campus, co-located within Newfield Secondary School. The new joint site was developed under the city’s ambitious £320 million Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, led by Sheffield City Council, which transformed 30 of the city’s secondary schools’ physical fabric as well as in-class learning facilities.