Seashell Trust (formerly Royal Schools for the Deaf) is a charity in Stockport, Greater Manchester, for children, young people and adults with sensory impairment, profound and multiple learning difficulties, and profound communication difficulties. It is the oldest deaf children's charity in North West England and operates Royal School Manchester and Royal College Manchester, as well as children and adult care and residential homes including a supported tenancy.
|Founders||Robert Phillips and William Bateman|
|Department for Education URN||106166 Tables|
|Head of Royal School||Emma Houldcroft|
|Acting Chief Executive Officer||Brandon Leigh|
|Staff||approx. 500 (whole Trust)|
|Age||2 to 25|
|Enrolment||109 (and rising)|
The Trust's special school is called Royal School Manchester, the Trust's independent specialist college [ISC] is Royal College Manchester. In addition, the Trust also operates ten adult care homes and seven children's homes.
The original school was established in 1823 by Robert Phillips, a Manchester merchant, with the assistance of fellow merchant William Bateman. It attained its royal status by Queen Victoria in 1897, and the current queen is its patron. It first opened in Salford in 1825, with 14 children, but it was soon deemed necessary to move to a larger site, this time to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Old Trafford, which opened on 21 June 1837.
It remained there until 1956 when a new campus was built in Cheadle Hulme. The school in Trafford remained open until 1982 and the charity now operates solely from the one site. The name was changed to Seashell Trust in 2008 because the former one (Royal Schools for the Deaf) was "misleading", according to governors.
The reference to deafness in the name of the school had become obsolete because an increasing number of the students enrolled had communication difficulties but were normally hearing. In particular, the Seashell Trust had developed considerable expertise in working with normally hearing autistic students. The deaf students now admitted by Seashell all have very complex additional needs, including visual impairments, physical difficulties and low general ability.
The Seashell Trust as a charity is effectively the parent body of the former Royal School for the Deaf and Communication Disorders. In changing the name of the school, it was decided to make a clear distinction between its school and its college (which occupy different parts of the campus). It was also decided to remove the reference to disability in the name. The school accepts students from preschool through to 19 years. The college runs a three-year programme, usually commencing when a student is 19 years old.