£2,500 cash boost gratefully received by Deaf Academy

Deaf Academy and Devon Freemasons

At the Deaf Academy cheque handover are, left to right: Sylvan Dewing (academy head), Charlotte, Chloe, Molly (students), Reuben Ayres (Freemasons charity steward), Ian Kingsbury (Devonshire Freemasons leader) - Credit: Deaf Academy

A generous donation from the Devon Freemasons will help the Deaf Academy install audio-visual equipment at its Exmouth campus.
Having moved in 2020 from a city centre campus in Exeter which was dated and sprawling, the academy is now based in Exmouth in a purpose-built complex. They requested help in funding the audio visual equipment required in their theatre / hall space to help develop the students’ confidence and sign language skills.
Devon Freemasons were pleased to assist with a grant of £2,500 from the Provincial Benevolent Fund.
This has allowed some match funding to be obtained. This is in addition to previous grants totalling £33,380 from the Freemasons.
Head of the Freemasons in Devon, Ian Kingsbury said: “The Deaf Academy does such a worthwhile job in changing the lives of so many young people, not just in Devon, but also in the wider UK, we’re very happy to support it when we can.”
Sylvan Dewing, Deaf Academy principal, said: “We are a unique provision in the UK, offering young people with a range of different abilities and challenges – all of whom are deaf or have hearing loss – a fantastic place to learn and grow.
“Our vision is to see deaf people valued by themselves and their society, being confident, well educated, independent, able to communicate, and with good and appropriate employment and housing.”
During the first lockdown, the Deaf Academy developed a successful Online Academy to support its students learning from home. Launched in April 2020, every student was given a tablet and full access to their education, with blended live learning and video lessons, all with interpretation to ensure complete accessibility for British Sign Language users.
The Academy implemented an innovative online learning programme that met the varied, and complex needs of every student It considered their language acquisition, additional needs including visual impairments and autism, along with the heightened levels of anxiety due to the covid pandemic. At its core the Academy created a platform that offered community, connection and learning.
Jane Shann, Assistant Principal for Education at the Deaf Academy, stated: “We’re absolutely thrilled that our dedication to student learning and wellbeing has been acknowledged as outstanding on a national level. Every attention to detail has paid off. We’re very proud of our Online Academy and its capabilities to support children of all complexities. Absolutely everything was delivered virtually, from speech and language therapy, physio packs, bespoke learning, and even Friday assemblies for families. None of this would have been possible without the sheer determination and dedication from our key workers.”
Wellbeing and support was a significant part of the Online Academy. Students were provided supervised ‘hang out’ Zoom sessions at break times to ensure friendships could continue and no child was left isolated. ‘No screen Wednesdays’ were initiated to combat screen fatigue. This enabled students to explore their creativity and independent learning skills. They were given tasks each week or given the choice to explore their own interests to develop their sense of self.  

Presenting the cheque to the academy, Mr Kingsbury was accompanied by charity steward Reuben Ayres.

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