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Dr William Roe founded our school in 1893, because he wanted to improve the lives of deaf people, who, at the time were ill-treated and misunderstood by society.

His wife Lydia was a pioneer in her own right, becoming the first woman qualified to teach deaf pupils in England. Money from her will paid for our residential accommodation to be built, which is today named in her memory.

At this time, the school was extremely progressive and today we encourage pupils to learn about the school’s fine history and to be proud of its culture and heritage.  

In 1897, the school gained its royal status when Queen Victoria bestowed the title as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations. 

Since then we have welcomed several members of the Royal family to the school, including Princess Margaret, Sarah, Duchess of York and, most recently, the Queen herself.

We are extremely proud of our rich and illustrious history and feel privileged to continue to offer the highest standard of teaching and pioneering pastoral care which has always been at the heart of this school. 

Sharing Heritage

Heritage Lottery Fund

Royal School for the Deaf Derby (RSDD) has a long history of over 125 years.

We have been lucky enough to secure funding of £7,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to preserve and develop our knowledge of this history.

As a result, new members of the deaf community have been reached through our Heritage Coffee Mornings and they now continue to visit the school and contribute to recording our heritage. We ran weekend workshops to collect information about the many photos the school owns; use information gathered in a display of the photos at the school and during Derby City Signfest.

The children have thoroughly enjoyed exploring the history of the school. They have visited areas which have included Dr Roe's grave, the original site of the school and Derby Cathedral where the original school gates are now placed. Several of the pupils have made presentations in assembly and are understandably proud of their heritage. This is now Deaf Heritage and Culture in the curriculum as part of their deaf identity learning.

Foundation Derbyshire


We received £2,000 from Foundation Derbyshire which has enabled us to look at further projects including a celebration sundial and an Heritage Trail for pupils and the local community around Derby with areas linked to our school heritage. 

We have Heritage Plaques at the houses where our founder retired, and where the school sanatorium was, and these have been have welcomed warmly. We now plan to have annual visits with groups and develop this as part of the Heritage Trail for our pupils.

The school was able to hold several events and activities over the academic year. 

Pupils have grown in confidence in investigating their heritage. They do not just want to learn they want to find out more and more for themselves. They have a pride in their school and the heritage and have a sense of belonging.

The sundial is greatly loved.

The school visited Chatsworth House and Sudbury Museum as well as Pickford’s House. As a result of the visit to Sudbury Museum, we were asked to take part in a project that they have over the Summer 2019 celebrating deafness and childhood. A group of our young people spent several days with Sudbury Museum of Childhood and the resulting room at the Hall dedicated to deafness and childhood memories.

Next steps

We are setting up an Alumni and we have been asking pupils who previously attended RSDD to support in giving something back to RSDD whether in memories, fundraising or supporting in school.

We are also looking at setting up a Deaf Heritage Appreciation Group










For more information on Our Heritage view here