Donaldson's School

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Donaldson's School
Donaldson's Hospital Building.jpg
Established Edinburgh 1851
Type School for pupils who are deaf, hearing impaired or have communication difficulties, as well as multiple and complex additional support needs
chief executive officer Laura Battles
Location Preston Road
EH49 6HZ
Students 31[1]
Gender Mixed
Ages Five–18
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 October 2014.[2]


The School's foundation, 1851[edit]

Donaldson's School was founded in 1851 and was housed in the Donaldson's Hospital Building in West Coates, Edinburgh. The school and building were paid for by Sir James Donaldson (1751–1830), who, for a time, was publisher of the Edinburgh Advertiser.[3] The original benefaction was that there should be 200 boys and 200 girls[4] and 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.[5] This benefaction was similar in style to the benefaction of George Watson, who founded and supported other schools in Edinburgh.

In 1938, the Royal Institute for Deaf and Dumb, Edinburgh was merged into Donaldson's School. The Royal Institute for Deaf and Dumb had been founded in 1824 and had been located in Henderson Row, Edinburgh (in a building designed by the architect James Gillespie Graham) and the building then became part of Edinburgh Academy.[4]

Donaldson's Hospital Building, Edinburgh[edit]

The 1851 A-listed Donaldson's Hospital building in Edinburgh was designed by architect William Henry Playfair in the Gothic style inspired by Elizabethan manor houses.[5] 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.[6] Queen Victoria opened the building in 1850[4] and is reputed to have said that the building was more impressive than many of her own palaces.[6][7]

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 use 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 although the school continued to have use of the building until they moved out in 2008.[8]

In 2015 City and Country, a property developer, submitted plans to develop the Donaldson's Hospital 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 Hospital building.[9]

Donaldson's School, Linlithgow, 2008[edit]

A new, purpose-built Donaldson's campus opened at Preston Road (EH49 6HZ) in Linlithgow in January 2008. The new campus had facilities for up to 120 pupils.

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

The new Donaldson's School in Linlithgow was developed in collaboration with staff, pupils, governors, acousticians and architects. It was built with a focus on energy efficiency and the environment. Shared teaching, sports and dining facilities formed a hub linking two teaching wings – the primary and secondary schools. Both schools were grouped around individual play spaces with links and views across the surrounding area. Facilities included a gym, swimming pool, fitness room, dining room, library, and assembly hall as well as an art studio. Classrooms, each of which accommodated six pupils, feature soundfield systems and interactive whiteboards. Donaldson's Lodge (residential accommodation) had 24 rooms placed in a separate building at the edge of the site in Linlithgow.

Donaldson's uses British Sign Language (BSL), Signed Supported English and spoken English, and caters for children and young people from five to 18 years. The curriculum is delivered by an interdisciplinary team of specialist teachers who are supported by specialist learning support assistants and residential care workers, providing round the clock education and care. The team includes: specialist teachers; speech and language therapists; a physiotherapist; and an occupational therapist.

In 2015 the school's principal announced that the school had been making losses for several years and that the nursery section of the school would close.[10]


  1. ^ "Donaldson's School to be restructured following review". BBC News Scotland. 11 May 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015. 
  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 14 August 2007 ed.). E. Mackay. p. 109. 
  4. ^ a b c "1b West Coates, Donaldson's Hospital (school for the Deaf), Including Chapel, Fountain, Steps and B, Edinburgh". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 22 November 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Veitch, Jennifer (2009). Edinburgh then and now. Batsford. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-906388-37-9. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Donaldson's College". Gazetteer for Scotland. 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "Donaldson's School for the Deaf (Former), 1B West Coates, Edinburgh". Buildings at Risk. Historic Scotland. 20 May 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  8. ^ Donnelly, Brian (19 May 2011). "High interest in £22m college sale". The Herald Scotland. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  9. ^ Grant, Alistair (1 September 2015). "Dramatic new plans for historic Donaldson's School". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  10. ^ Denholm, Andrew (11 May 2015). "National deaf school nursery to close". The Herald Scotland. Retrieved 22 November 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