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State-of-the-art school for the deaf wins go-ahead from Camden Council in King's Cross

PUBLISHED: 15:53 01 August 2012 | UPDATED: 16:15 01 August 2012

Headteacher Karen Simpson at Frank Barnes School, with students from Raspberry Class. Picture: Polly Hancock

Headteacher Karen Simpson at Frank Barnes School, with students from Raspberry Class. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Proposals to build a brand new state-of-the-art school for the deaf in King's Cross have won the go-ahead from Camden Council.

The decision, approved last Wednesday, means that Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children will move from its current location in the Jubilee Waterside Centre in Camley Street to the new King’s Cross Development in 2015.

The move will allow the school to expand in both resources and size and it will be located on the same site as a new primary school.

It has been a doubly good month for Frank Barnes as the school also received an outstanding rating from Ofsted two weeks ago.

This makes it the only primary school in London with specialist provision for deaf children to be twice as rated outstanding by Ofsted.

Headteacher Karen Simpson said: “It’s really exciting. We’re going to create something visionary that doesn’t exist elsewhere. It’s going to be a resource for all of England.”

The school currently provides schooling for 38 children but Ms Simpson hopes to expand the number to 50.

She also hopes that they will be able to set up a deaf day care centre after running a successful trial at the school.

“Our vision for the new school is to place it at the forefront of deaf education,” she said. “I want it to develop as a local, regional and potentially international centre of excellence. I want to work in liaison with other professionals and share good practice. The aim is to do that through training, resources development and annual conferences to ensure all deaf children benefit.”

The new school will have a training centre and parent facilities to allow parents to undertake courses such as early learning and sign language.

Ms Simpson has been at the school for 22 years, first as a teacher before being promoted to deputy headteacher and then headteacher.

She attributes the school’s success to teaching all the children both sign language and English and having language experts to help develop their linguistic skills. Since the school became sign bilingual in 1994, pupils’ achievements have risen considerably.

“The recipe is simple,” said Ms Simpson. “We provide access to high quality teaching and learning in a language children can understand. The progress they make against their baseline on entry is phenomenal.”

She has high ambitions and is keen for pupils to develop to their full potential. “It’s about aspirations. It’s about a can-do attitude. It’s about access to a strong first language, high expectations, positive deaf identity and becoming an effective and successful citizen contributing to the community,” she said.

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