Driving Away From Home: My Return to Ewing School (07 November 2013)

Back to the old school, literally.

One tweet I made on the way to work, more than anything set the tone for this post:

I was sat on a 330 bound for Bredbury, quite a far cry from passing Levenshulme on the second of the four most important days of my life. Instead of the dulcet tones of James H. Reeve on Piccadilly Radio, my soundtrack was the roar of Enviro400 engine and the odd bit of chatter. Continue reading “Driving Away From Home: My Return to Ewing School (07 November 2013)”

34 Years a Bibliophile: My Most Influential Books

My life between pages

Dukinfield Library, Concord Way, Dukinfield
The source of my bibliophile leanings since the 21 November 1984: Dukinfield Library, Concord Way.

There are several habits, rituals and substances we acquire throughout our lives, some of which are risky. Others are less risky; some take up square metres shelf space or need a few circuits around the block (and beg for treats every so often). Continue reading “34 Years a Bibliophile: My Most Influential Books”

Happy World Autism Awareness Day

East of the M60 celebrates World Autism Awareness Day

This year, Tuesday 02 April is (other than the 39th anniversary of Piccadilly Radio’s launch) is World Autism Awareness Day. In the UK, there are 600,000 people with an Autism Spectrum Condition of some description. As a fellow autie, I believe that persons on the Autism Spectrum never get fair representation in public life, and in the benefits system (possibly made even harder from this week forward thanks to the abolition of DLA). The problem – and great joy – is that there is no homogenous form of autism, and this baffles the populace as much as the ruling classes. Which is why Social Security provision doesn’t fully address these concerns, leaving some worse off than they should be. (I shall leave the politics for another post). Continue reading “Happy World Autism Awareness Day”

Ewing School: a History and an Appreciation

A Fond Farewell to a Fine School

Farewell Old Friend: The Ewing School, former school of the creator of this blog, 1987 – 1990.

The story of Ewing School begins in 1913 with Irene Goldsack. She became the teacher-in-charge of the Royal School of the Deaf, a residential infant school for the hard of hearing in Manchester. Today, renamed and relocated, it is now part of the Seashell Trust’s network of special schools.

Continue reading “Ewing School: a History and an Appreciation”

What SPLD Means to Me: the article

Some time in October 2005, I wrote an article on my experiences with Semantic Pragmatic Language Disorder. This was for a then new online support group for children with SPLD entitled SPD Support.

The article is now available on East of the M60 for your perusal. Enjoy!

How The Grinch Stole (my former school before) Christmas

Ewing School to face closure in 2012

Most regular readers of this blog would be familiar with my former school over the last year and Manchester Education Committee’s plans to close it. East of the M60 has also been charting the progress of PACE (Parents Against the Closure of Ewing school), a grassroots organisation formed to fight the proposals.

In the last year, PACE has organised: Continue reading “How The Grinch Stole (my former school before) Christmas”

Ewing School: East of the M60 first again

Update on Ewing School.

Some time ago, East of the M60 reflected on the ‘grotesque shambles’ of Manchester City Council’s proposed closure of Ewing School. Though a local Liberal Democrat newsletter exposed this at the end of last year, the story has finally made the Manchester Evening News (Wednesday 11 February 2009).  East of the M60’s story was released into cyberspace nearly a month before the MEN’s account of event.

Since Manchester Withington MP John Leech proposed an Early Day Motion for the retention of Ewing School, an online petition has attracted over 650 signatures.  This is in addition to the 2,500 signatures gathered at a rally in West Didsbury.

The loss of Ewing School and the council’s proposals are tantamount to “inclusion by isolation”.  Think of the pupils who will have made friends at West Didsbury, only to find he/she has been moved to Moston or Wythenshawe. For the good of fellow auties, aspies and SPLDers like myself, sign the online petition as soon as possible.  In the words of Del Trotter, ‘You Know It Makes Sense’!

Save Ewing School

S.V., 11 February 2009

Why Change a Winning Team?

Outrage over Manchester City Council plans to close Ewing School

Imagine being part of a successful football team, winning every trophy imaginable and being forced to split that winning team by the FA.  Picture the prospect of your teammates being split into ninths.

As part of Manchester City Council’s plans to improve integration with mainstream schools within its boundaries, is a proposal to downgrade and close two special schools within Didsbury. One school is going to lose its secondary school classes, the other is going to close completely. The latter one is Ewing School, the school I attended from January 1987 to July 1990.

I could cope with the mighty Stalybridge Celtic losing 6-1 to Durham City, spend hours on rail replacement buses from Hell. These are minor compared with this recent development.  This development interferes with people’s lives at a fundamental level rather one’s peeves.

I am always happy to talk at length or write about my time at Ewing, and claim that Ewing School, not my secondary school, was the one which helped me the most. What helped were the small classes (18 was the biggest class number) and the high pupil to teacher ratio (4 pupils to 1 teacher).  I also enjoyed being able to go to different places on a weekly basis along with my fellow peers.  It is thanks also to Ewing School that I am able to appreciate the countryside, enjoy walks and travel independently by bus, train and tram.

Ewing School already has a proven record in enabling pupils to settle in mainstream schools long afterwards.  So much that there is a waiting list and people moving to South Manchester so their child can be taught by their specialist teaching staff.  Instead of keeping up the good work, the council wishes to break up that successful team.

They propose that its students would be dispersed into 9 ‘havens’ within existing mainstream schools.   How do you tell the pupils that their best friend will be moving to a haven in Moston if he/she will be moving to one in Gorton?  Will the Ewing staff leave the profession altogether rather than join one of the havens, resulting in a loss of specialist personnel? Any move away from the status quo would cause chaos with parents and their children already satisfied with Ewing School.

As a former pupil, I am totally against the plans.  This is an issue shared by Manchester Withington MP John Leech (Liberal Democrats) who in December last year submitted an Early Day Motion favouring its retention.  I have written a letter to him.

A petition against the closure will be launched on Saturday 17th January 2009.  The rally and launch will take place in West Didsbury between 12.00pm – 2.00pm.  If you can make it, please do, especially if you live in the constituency, or linked with Ewing School, as for example a former teacher or pupil.

S.V., 15 January 2009

Ewing School: 40 Years On And Still Going Strong

A West Didsbury special school comes of age

The year 1968 was best remembered for Manchester United being the first English team to lift the European Cup, Continue reading “Ewing School: 40 Years On And Still Going Strong”

Ever The Honorary Northern Autie

Donna Williams to do 6 lectures in the North of England.

It is that time of the year again (and in case any regular readers ask, it is not Christmas).  Autie raconteur Donna Williams is to do 6 lectures in the North of England as part of her UK tour.  For anyone unfamiliar with her works, she is an established author and consultant in the field of autism spectrum disorders and an all round renaissance woman with a wealth of creative talent from singing to painting and poetry.

As with previous years, most venues are easy to get to on public transport and priced within easy reach of most incomes.

Her Northern lectures:

  • Manchester: 13 September;
  • Sunderland: 18 September;
  • Leeds: 18 September;
  • Burnley: 19 September;
  • Liverpool: 19 September;
  • Sheffield: 20 September.

For further details, click on the Blogroll link to Donna Williams’ website.  Tickets are only available on a ‘first come first served’ basis, so be quick as her lectures are extremely popular.

S.V., 28 August 2008.