Welwyn Garden City school has new headteacher for first time in 20 years
- Credit: Archant
A Welwyn Garden City school that caters for youngsters with hearing impairments has a new headteacher for the first time in 20 years.
Knightsfield’s Suzanne Thrower, who took over in January, told the WHT the school has a lot to offer families who may be unaware it exists.
The school works in partnership with neighbouring Monk’s Walk, where most youngsters study PE, drama and art, along with other subjects depending on their level.
Mrs Thrower told the WHT: “I think we can support some families out there who do not know we are here.
“I think at the moment we want a little more presence in the town, and maybe a few more pupils might want to come here and realise the benefits of dual education.”
Most post-16 pupils also study at Oaklands College.
She explained that deaf children do not naturally acquire language and listening skills, but overcoming that barrier is a key objective at the school.
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“A big challenge pupils face is social communication, actually learning if it is a joke or not, and understanding they may only gather half a sentence and the effect that has on the meaning,” Mrs Thrower added.
“It’s about teaching them that resilience in the hearing world and preparing them for their future and the jobs they are going to do.”
The secondary school has around 40 pupils, and the majority of rooms are acoustically treated to combat echoes.
Mother-of-three Mrs Thrower previously spent eight years working for the Met Police, before moving into education and enjoying stints at Stevenage schools Lonsdale and Marriotts, as well as Presdales in Ware.
“When I was at university studying education I focused a lot on special education needs and found that really interesting, and I became a SENCO (special education needs coordinator),” Mrs Thrower said.
Knightsfield teachers use a special sound system, which involves wearing a transmitter that connects to the pupils’ hearing aids.
Mrs Thrower added: “You see the way the teachers interact with the pupils really well, and how they encourage them not to give up.
“All of the classes are quite small and it’s a fantastic learning environment.”
Year 10 pupil Daniel Money, 14, said: “It has helped me build my confidence to do GCSEs at Monk’s Walk, and has built my confidence to interact with people and be friends with them.”
Mrs Thrower added: “Seeing the smiles, the achievements and the kids doing things they never thought they could do – you get the hairs on the back of the neck.”