Information | 24.12.2020 | By Teresa Quail

Catherine Baldwin retires from Boston Spa’s St John’s Catholic Specialist School, Dec 2020

Boston Spa’s St John’s Catholic Specialist School share “A MUCH-LOVED West Yorkshire Assistant Headteacher is retiring from her post at a specialist school for the deaf after more than 36 years.

Catherine Baldwin has taught at Boston Spa’s St John’s Catholic Specialist School, formerly St John’s Catholic School for the Deaf, since 1983. She joined the school as an English and Textiles teacher before being made Head of English at the school in 1989.

The school supports deaf and hearing children and young people with communication difficulties on both a day and weekly-boarding basis. Children from all over the North of England attend the school.

As part of her role, Catherine spent time in the Netherlands where she completed a Diploma in the Maternal Reflective Method, an approach used for teaching language development in deaf young people. Catherine later shared responsibility for the wider curriculum before more recently becoming Assistant Head Teacher for Curriculum.

She said: “I knew from the moment I set foot in St John’s for my first interview that I wanted to work here. It is a school with a very special ethos and it really is a wonderful place to teach.

“Our children and young people achieve marvellous outcomes and it is wonderful that so many of them return year after year, or keep regularly in touch.

“Since I began teaching, there have been changes in the curriculum, of course, but one thing that has always been a real strength at St John’s is our focus on offering qualifications for a range of abilities, interests and future careers, from traditional GCSEs and academic subjects through to more vocational qualifications.

“The children we teach have also changed. Previously all of the children we taught were deaf, but the school has evolved around children’s needs and now we also support hearing children with communication difficulties, including autism, and now our pupils are both deaf and hearing.

“The approach we use, including the environment and our methods of teaching, focus on the emotional well-being and personal development of each individual child and that makes St John’s a really welcoming and nurturing school environment for both hearing and deaf children.

“I’ve loved my time here and will absolutely be coming back to visit – especially for our famous Christmas Fairs!”

Catherine retires at the end of this term and will enjoy time with her family and “doing all those things I haven’t had time to!”.

St John’s Headteacher Ann Bradbury said: “Catherine will be very much missed by everyone at St John’s, both pupils and staff. Her skills and expertise have helped us shape our curriculum over the years to ensure we always offer the very best range of subjects to meet our pupils’ needs. It has been a huge pleasure to work with her for so many years and we wish her all the very best for a restful retirement.””