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Royal School for The Deaf Exeter
50 Topsham Road, EX2 4NF Exeter
01392 272692


Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education aims to provide a happy, safe and secure environment in which deaf children and young people can reach their full potential.

For many deaf children, mainstream school can be a hard experience, where loneliness and social isolation are commonplace. It can be a place where they do not receive the specialist support they need and find themselves excluded from much of the social friendships and activities that go on within the school.

Deaf people can often experience barriers to learning. We are specialists in enabling children to overcome these barriers and to achieve academically. We also provide a peer group for deaf children to develop socially and emotionally. We have been highly praised by Ofsted for enabling our pupils to leave school independent and capable of working and living within a hearing world.

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High quality teaching, all pupils achieve very well. Pupils love the school.

- Ofsted


The School

The School

We accept children of all abilities, aged from 5 to 16, both day pupils and 5-day boarders, and identify and develop the most effective form of communication for each child. We enable pupils to develop their skills in sign language. To ensure that they have a means of expression and communication, we work with them to develop strategies to enable communication with hearing people. We focus on their reading and writing abilities. Where possible, we develop a child’s ability to speak through the support of a full-time speech and language therapist and our experienced and qualified teachers of the deaf. We maximise hearing ability through the support of the School’s audiologist.

ofsted say it's love, actually

Ofsted described us as having ‘high quality teaching’, with 94% of teaching good or better and none unsatisfactory, where all pupils achieved very well. The education is matched to individual needs and as such we are a ‘very effective school that is very good value for money’. Ofsted agreed with us that we are more a ‘learning community’ than a school, where the relationships and ethos are ‘excellent’. So much so, Ofsted noted that the pupils do not just like the school, ‘they love it’. As a result, the attendance, attitude and behaviour of the pupils is ‘very good’. We provide ‘very high levels of care and safety’ without minimising a child’s maturing independence so that pupils leave us ‘very well prepared for life after school’. The curriculum follows the National Curriculum as appropriate and is ‘very good’.

Educational practice

Most teachers are qualified teachers of the deaf, and are supported by Learning Support Assistants who are also trained in deaf awareness and sign language. The National Curriculum is followed throughout the school, although exemptions are made according to the needs of the child. As communication is such an important issue for our pupils, they are taught BSL as opposed to a foreign language. Pupils are taught in small class groups by teachers of the deaf having access to subject specialists from the broad range of National Curriculum subjects.

Communication methodology

We identify the most effective form of communication for each child. Where possible, we develop a child’s ability to speak through the support of a full-time speech and language therapist and our experienced and qualified teachers of the deaf. At the same time we maximise any hearing ability through the support of the School’s audiologist. If a child is not able to speak intelligibly, we enable them to develop their skills in sign language so they have a means of expression and communication. At the same time, we work with them to develop strategies to enable communication with hearing people. For example, we may focus on their reading and writing abilities, and/or develop their experience of working with an interpreter.

Teaching accommodation & resources

The school is purpose built for educating deaf children. It is a spacious site, with several playing fields, a swimming pool and gym. It is also well-equipped with both information technology, and design technology suites and an art and science block. The library is an attractive and well used room.


As Ofsted recently noted, the pupils do not just like the school, they love it. One of the main reasons for this is the care and support given to the pupils outside of teaching hours. The care staff are experienced and committed to supporting the pupils and enabling them to feel at home. The School accepts weekly boarders, with the timetable running from Monday afternoon to Friday morning so that they can travel to and from the school on Monday morning and Friday afternoon. The school day during the rest of the week is slightly longer than a mainstream school in order to make up for the hours lost to travel. The School is purpose built, and covers 12 acres with extensive grounds. All pupils and students have single rooms and there is also a flat available for parents to stay in if they visit their child at the School. Parents of residential pupils are given weekly reports from the care staff and communication with the family, through email, minicom, mobile phone and text messages, is encouraged.

Social development

Trips and social activities are organised regularly for the pupils, and we carefully manage a programme that gives the children increasing independence. There are numerous opportunities for social development, from activities on Dartmoor and the coast, to the youth club for deaf and hearing children that meets on site. We encourage the pupils to mix socially with hearing children through joint activities with other schools.


The school operates a fee matrix where the fee for each child reflects their individual needs and whether they are a day pupil or a weekly boarder. The fees range from £25,000 to £40,000 depending on the needs of the child. The overwhelming majority of pupils have their fees paid for by the pupil’s Local Authority.


We welcome enquiries from throughout the country. With the expansion of flights from the airports in Exeter, Plymouth and Bristol, it is now possible to travel to the school from most parts of the United Kingdom. We strongly recommended that anyone who is considering the school for their child should come and visit us and stay for a couple of days whilst we carry out our own assessment. Specialist staff, including an audiologist, speech & language therapist and teachers of the deaf, will make their recommendations and the child will also spend some time in lessons at the School. The parents or careers will also have chance to meet the care staff and stay in the parents’ accommodation on site.

If at the end of your visit we believe the pupil will benefit from attending the School, and of course if the pupil and their parents do too, then we will fund a one day assessment that will be carried out at the Burwood Centre in Berkshire. This will give a thorough assessment of the child’s needs and as such will be an essential part of an application to a Local Authority to fund a place at the School.

Each Local Authority has its own views on the need for pupils to attend schools like Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education. If they do not agree that the child should become a pupil at the school, we will fund the parents’ appeal against their decision. All the paperwork will be prepared by us and we will work hard to minimise the worry and stress that tribunals can sometimes cause. We will also enable you to get in contact with parents of existing pupils who have gone through a similar process and can support you. In nearly half of all tribunal cases, the Local Authority agrees to the placement before it reaches court. For those that do go to court, the success rate for parents is high.

Exeter is a beautiful historic city with numerous attractions including galleries, sports centres, a cathedral, an art centre and a deaf club. There are a wide range of water sports on the River Exe, which the school overlooks, including canoeing and sailing. The school is a 10 minute walk into the city centre. There are numerous beautiful beaches nearby which offer sporting and leisure pursuits and Dartmoor National Park, with its walking, climbing, horse riding and caving, is also easily accessible.

Exeter is easily accessible by road, rail and air. The School is only 10 minutes drive off junction 30 on the M5, and only two hours train ride from London. Exeter Airport now has flights from many parts of the UK, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds/Bradford, Guernsey and Jersey.

For further information or to arrange a visit to the School, please contact Lee Fullwood, Head of School,
Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education,
50 Topsham Road,
EX2 4NF.
Tel: 01392 272692. Email:


The College

The College

We educate the students both on and off site and each student has a timetable tailored to individual needs. The College is for young people aged 16-22, who are either day or residential students. The students range from oral, partial to profoundly deaf, and some have additional needs. We communicate in ways appropriate for each individual. We teach both through Signed Supported English and British Sign Language. We aim to improve both English competency and BSL for all pupils as appropriate.
To view a tour of the college, click here.

Teaching accommodation & resources

The accommodation is purpose built, with architecturally designed rooms that are acoustically treated. There is a comprehensive ICT suite with both open access and formal sessions. There are also Domestic Training Areas that are fully equipped to meet all needs.

The College has good links with the Connexions service (local careers service, see link for more details), has a good library and excellent work experience programmes. There is also an on-site sensory garden and vegetable garden. There are also informal/social areas, a dining room, a common room (with table football, table tennis, pool etc), playing fields, a swimming pool and gym.


OCNSW Personal Achievement and Communication Course 1 & 2

Taught and assessed on site.

EDI's GOAL Skills for Working Life 2 & 3

Taught and assessed on site. Some teaching on taster courses is delivered to discrete groups (deaf students plus Teacher of the Deaf) at a local sector college supported by one of our Communication Support Workers.


Taught and assessed at local sector colleges. Each student is supported on his/her course by our qualified Communication Support Workers in all classes. Abbreviations used: OCNSW – Open College Network South West
EDI – Education Development International
BTEC – Business & Technical Education Council
AVCE – Advanced Vocational Certificate in Education
NVQ – National Vocational Qualification


Accommodation is in single study bedrooms and in individual flats on campus. Resident care staff monitor students’ independent living skills, offering guidance and advice as well as target-setting through the Independent Living Skills Programme, where appropriate.

Preparing for employment

All students participate in work experience and have regular meetings and support from our specialist Connexions Personal Advisor who makes links with the student’s home area.


Student placements are paid for by the Local Authority or Learning Skills Council, or occasionally are funded privately.

Applying and visiting

To arrange a visit, request an application form, or for further information, please telephone the college or email us using the link below.

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