West Kirby Residential School was first known as a Children’s Convalescent Home. The Home began in Filey Terrace by admitting six children so that they could benefit from good clean fresh air, good food, dedicated care and attention.
The prevalence of children suffering from the effects of bad housing, neglect, debility and diseases such as tuberculosis, rheumatism, rheumatic fever, rickets, typhoid and bronchitis, in the 1880’s was recognised by the founders of the Home who provided the first accommodation in the Hoylake Cottage. The present site was acquired and the hospital block was built in 1899, which was ultimately to benefit many thousands of children, by co-operation with the founders of a hospital. Children in the hospital block at the Convalescent Home, who were of longer stay than the majority of the other children, created pressure on the voluntary teaching which was first provided. Therefore, a certificated teacher was appointed as Headteacher and a school, recognised by the Board of Education as a Day School attached to a Home was opened in 1901. This was the first school in the country to be recognised for the education of children with physical difficulties. In 1905, the Board of Education recognised the school as a Boarding School. During 1918 the Home received children from London, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Yorkshire, as well as from the local area. Various Education Acts had been passed which recognised the growing importance of Special Education. During the war, of the 3,424 children admitted, a high proportion of the medical cases were admitted under the Emergency Hospital Scheme. The discovery of Penicillin treatment by antibiotics and other factors resulted in the improvement of the general health of children. So there became less demand for places. The significance of change and the importance of education were recognised by the change of title of the establishment. The new title adopted in 1959 was the ‘Children’s Convalescent Home and School.
The 60’s brought great changes. The number of convalescent children continued to decline but the number of school children increased. The Department of Education raised the approved accommodation to 160 children and plans for further extensions to the school were made in 1970. The Warnock Report published in 1978 indicated that all children should be seen in terms of their individual needs, many would benefit from being transferred from special schools to mainstream schools, though there would always be the case of retention of some special schools. During this decade there was consolidation of the education services at West Kirby and with an ever-widening curriculum to children with a wide range of disabilities. Successful examination results were recorded and outdoor activities flourished. Much attention was paid to the preparation of school leavers in order that they would be fitted to meet the challenges of life after school. In 1979 the Childcare staff were brought under the control of the Headteacher. Consequently the Term ‘Home’ was to be no longer used and was replaced by the present title of ‘West Kirby Residential School’.
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