History of RNIB Pears Centre

New purpose-built facilities for children and young people with multiple disabilities and complex health needs who are blind or partially sighted are now open at RNIB Pears Centre in Coventry, following a major redevelopment.

Find out why we’ve invested in this specialist service and follow our journey from Rushton Hall in 1957.

Specialist education and care facilities

Our modern, purpose-built facilities were officially opened by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal in September 2012. Their design aims to develop and encourage independence, cater for children's individual needs and minimise the impact of their disabilities. All areas are accessible for wheelchair users or people who have restricted mobility.

Amenities include:

  • Bungalows: five single-storey homes, each with six bedrooms, three bathrooms and a lounge, dining room, kitchen and gardens; outdoor play areas and pedestrianised zones.
  • School: versatile classrooms, each with space for teaching, physiotherapy and mobility equipment; multi-sensory environments, music room, movement and therapy rooms.
  • Meeting and conferencing facilities:

Our new buildings are being equipped with some of the best technology, equipment and aids. This is transforming the environment and improving specialist support for children and young people who live, learn and grow at RNIB Pears Centre for Specialist Learning.

Why develop specialist provision for children with complex needs?

We know that there is significant association between sight problems and complex needs. RNIB estimates that between 9,000 and 12,000 of the 25,000 children in the UK who are blind or partially sighted may also have additional disabilities, including some or all of the following conditions:

  • severe or profound learning difficulties
  • other sensory impairments
  • autistic spectrum disorders
  • physical disabilities
  • complex medical needs.

A child with such complex needs requires high levels of care and support, which mainstream schools are not able to provide. Many of these young people aren't in specialist schools so they're not getting the educational opportunities they deserve.

There is also growing demand from some parents for year-round care provision. The need for this type of specialist provision is set to increase and this is why the redevelopment of RNIB Pears Centre is so important.

Aims and outcomes

The aims of our redevelopment are to:

  • Offer increased provision of high quality education, care, health support and therapies to children and young people with multiple disabilities and complex health needs who are blind or partially sighted.
  • Reduce stress and isolation for families, enabling more families to gain the support they need.
  • Improve mobility and wellbeing of children and young people
  • Be a pleasurable place to live and learn, enabling children and young people to reach their full potential.
  • Create job and volunteering opportunities to local people and greatly enhance the community.
  • Become a model of care and education for children and young people who are blind or partially sighted with multiple disabilities and complex health needs, which can be emulated across the UK.

Thank you to all of our supporters

At £30m, our redevelopment is the largest capital investment ever made by RNIB. We are very grateful to everyone who has contributed to the redevelopment project to modernise and extend our facilities. We would particularly like to acknowledge Pears Foundation who have shown enormous support by investing over £1million in the development of our new site.

Brief history of RNIB Pears Centre

We have more than 50 years' experience of offering specialist education and care to children and young people with multiple disabilities and complex needs who are blind and partially sighted. Here is an overview of our journey from 1957.

1957: RNIB Rushton Hall School is established at Rushton Hall, Northamptonshire.

2002: We move to a shared site with Exhall Grange School in Coventry, North Warwickshire and become RNIB Rushton School and Children’s Home.

2005: Plans are produced to redevelop the entire Rushton site.

2007: RNIB purchases our land from Warwickshire County Council.

2008: Builders arrive on site and our redevelopment and transformation begins.

2010: We become the only non-maintained special school in England to be awarded specialist status in Special Educational Needs (SEN) cognition and learning by the Department for Education (DfE).

2011: Our name changes to RNIB Pears Centre for Specialist Learning and we launch our individual logo. Ofsted grades our children’s home as “outstanding”. Our school is awarded a prestigious Research Charter Mark.

2012: Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal officially opens our new purpose-built facilities. An adapted version of RNIB’s silver gilt winning Chelsea Flower Show garden from 2011 is installed on site.

2013: Ofsted rates our school as “outstanding”. Our newly-established care service for children with additional medical needs achieves full Care Quality Commission (CQC) compliance. Our school achieves the gold standard Inclusion Quality Mark. We are presented with an award for Excellence in Environmental Improvement.