Van Asch College

  (Redirected from Van Asch Deaf Education Centre)

Van Asch Deaf Education Centre is located in Truro Street, Sumner, Christchurch, New Zealand. It is a special school for deaf children, accepting both day and residential pupils, as well being as a resource centre providing services and support for parents, mainstream students and their teachers in the South Island and the Lower North Island (south of Taupo).

Van Asch Deaf Education Centre
CH8-1, Van Asch School, Photo 1 (12954895123).jpg
Truro Street,
New Zealand
Coordinates43°34′47″S 172°45′32″E / 43.57972°S 172.75889°E / -43.57972; 172.75889Coordinates: 43°34′47″S 172°45′32″E / 43.57972°S 172.75889°E / -43.57972; 172.75889
TypeState, Co-educational special school
Ministry of Education Institution no.519
PrincipalBernie Mulcahy-Bouwman[1]
School roll26
Socio-economic decile4[2]

The school was founded in 1880. Formerly called the Sumner Deaf and Dumb Institution, Sumner Institution for Deaf-Mutes and Sumner School for the Deaf, the school was renamed in its centenary year as van Asch College in honour of its first Principal, Gerrit van Asch. It is now known as the van Asch Deaf Education Centre.


William Rolleston, when he represented the Avon electorate in 1878, proposed a school for deaf children. The government agreed to open a state school for the deaf in Christchurch, and the Sumner Deaf and Dumb Institution opened in 1880.[3]

In 1904, an Act of Parliament forced parents to enrol their deaf children at the college[4] (then known as the Sumner Institute).

In 1958, the Boy's House was burnt down in the early hours of the morning.[5]

The old main building was centred near the hills and Evans Pass.

Oralist beginningsEdit

Up until the late 1970s, the philosophy of the school was to prevent the students from using sign language (now New Zealand's third official language). Children were taught exclusively via oral methods, forcing them to learn to lipread and speak, with punishments being given for use of sign language.[6]

Bilingual teachingEdit

In the late 1970s, the school switched to bilingual teaching and currently, in addition to presenting the curriculum in NZSL, Sign Supported English and oral (aural) modes, the College now offers the facility for deaf and hearing-impaired students being educated in mainstream settings to learn about NZSL as part of a Deaf Studies curriculum.

Deaf staffEdit

The employment of deaf gardeners, cooks and cleaners has been credited with having a significant effect on the transmission of signs between generations, with children picking up signs the auxiliary staff used to communicate with each other, despite disapproval from teaching staff[6]

In 1992 the Board of Trustees had its first deaf chairperson.

In 1993 the first Sign Language tutor was employed.

In 1997 the first deaf teacher was employed.


  1. ^ "VADEC - Board of Trustees". Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  2. ^ "Home | Education in New Zealand". Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  3. ^ "1880". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  4. ^ "New Zealand Sign Language Bill: Second Reading: 23 Feb 2006: NZ Parliament". 2006-02-23. Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  5. ^ "VADEC Literacy: Reading Pieces". Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  6. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-08-02. Retrieved 2007-08-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)