Donaldson's School

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Donaldson's School
Established Edinburgh 1851
Type School for pupils who are deaf or who have communication difficulties
Principal Laura Battles
Location Preston Road
EH49 6HZ
Students 41[1]
Gender Mixed
Ages Nursery–24
Old location West Coates, Edinburgh, EH12 5JJ
Website Donaldson's School

Donaldson's School, in Linlithgow is Scotland's national residential and day school, providing education, therapy and care for pupils who are deaf or who have communication difficulties.


Laura Battles was appointed Principal and Chief Executive Officer of Donaldson's in 2014.[2]


Donaldson's was founded in West Coates, Edinburgh in 1851 as Donaldson's Hospital by Sir James Donaldson (1751–1830), who, for a time, was publisher of the Edinburgh Advertiser.[3] The original benefaction allowed for special bursaries for poor children. Not all were deaf, although applications on behalf of deaf children were encouraged. From 1938, pupils were exclusively deaf.[4] This benefaction was similar in style to the benefaction of George Watson, who founded and supported other schools in Edinburgh.

The 1851 A-listed Edinburgh building was in the Gothic style and designed by architect William Henry Playfair, inspired by Elizabethan manor houses.[4] The building is built round a quadrangle in Tudor architecture style with large corner towers which themselves are each made up of four smaller towers.[5] Queen Victoria is reputed to have said that the building was more impressive than many of her own palaces.[5][6]

After more than 150 years based in the Playfair building, Donaldson's finally concluded that the building was no longer fit for purpose. Many of the rooms were no longer in use, classrooms were unable to utilise the latest educational technology and the Trust could no longer afford to maintain the building. In 2003 the school's building was put up for sale and was purchased by Scottish property developer Cala Homes for £22 million.[7]

The school retained use of the building until a new, purpose-built Donaldson's campus opened in Linlithgow in January 2008. The new campus has facilities for up to 120 pupils. The Campus is located on Preston Road (EH49 6HZ).

In 2015 City and Country, a property developer, submitted plans to develop the former Donaldson's College building and the East and West Gatehouses into luxury residential accommodation. Cala Homes also submitted a plan to build a new crescent of luxury residential accommodation at the rear of the former Donaldson's College building.[8]

As a national Grant Aided Special School (GASS) supported by the Scottish Government the central location of the new site makes the facilities more accessible to pupils from all over Scotland and the north of England.

The new Donaldson’s School was developed in collaboration with staff, pupils, governors, acousticians and architects. It is built with a focus on energy efficiency and the environment.

Donaldson’s uses British Sign Language (BSL), Signed Supported English and spoken English, and caters for children and young people from two and a half years to 24 years. The curriculum is delivered by an interdisciplinary team of teachers who are supported by classroom assistants and residential care workers, providing round the clock education and care. The team includes: teachers of the deaf; speech and language therapists; an educational psychologist; an educational audiologist; a physiotherapist; an occupational therapist; deaf studies tutors; and subject teachers.

Shared teaching, sports and dining facilities form a hub linking two teaching wings — the nursery / primary and secondary schools. Both schools are grouped around individual play spaces with links and views across the surrounding area. Facilities include a gym, swimming pool, fitness room, dining room, library, and assembly hall as well as a "life skills room" and art studio. Classrooms, each of which accommodates six pupils, feature soundfield systems and interactive whiteboards.

Donaldson's Lodge (residential accommodation) has 24 rooms placed in a separate building at the edge of the site.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Management Team". Donaldson's School. May 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  3. ^ Couper, William James (1908). The Edinburgh periodical press: being a bibliographical account of the newspapers, journals, and magazines issued in Edinburgh from the earliest times to 1800 2 (Digitized August 14, 2007 ed.). E. Mackay. p. 109. 
  4. ^ a b Veitch, Jennifer (2009). Edinburgh then and now. Batsford. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-906388-37-9. Retrieved 2012-05-29. 
  5. ^ a b "Donaldson's College". Gazeteer for Scotland. 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  6. ^ "Donaldson's School for the Deaf (Former), 1B West Coates, Edinburgh". Buildings at Risk. Historic Scotland. 20 May 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  7. ^ Donnelly, Brian (19 May 2011). "High interest in £22m college sale". The Herald Scotland. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  8. ^ Grant, Alistair (1 September 2015). "Dramatic new plans for historic Donaldson’s School". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°56′50.92″N 3°13′33.21″W / 55.9474778°N 3.2258917°W / 55.9474778; -3.2258917