Talbot House Children's Charity, a chronology
The Northumberland coast is an area of outstanding natural beauty. There are many hidden coves and long golden sandy beaches. Of the many pretty coastal villages dotted along the craggy shoreline, the village of Alnmouth has been an important trading port in Northumberland's past, mainly involved in the export of grain, and smuggling, but it also has another little story to tell.
In 1970 a group of education and social work volunteers, supported by local business people, established a very successful and perpetuated annual ‘summer camp’ using the Alnmouth village hall as its base. Here, during the school holiday period, underprivileged and at risk young people, from the Tyneside conurbations could attend weeklong residential activities and mentoring courses.
The Alnmouth project became an important and much acclaimed crime reducing strategic intervention for the region. So much so there was considerable support for the project to become an all year round facility. In 1974 a permanent site was found. This was achieved with the help of funds from local businesses and importantly a very generous grant from TocH, which allowed the Alnmouth Camp Trustees to purchase a row of four derelict colliery cottages in Seghill, Northumberland. Accordingly and because of the TocH Trusts generosity, these buildings became Talbot House School. The school was duly registered as a charity and approved by the DfE as a Non-Maintained residential special school for 35 children age 11 to 16 years with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Children were able to come to school on Monday morning and and attend school lessons as well as live with the staff team until Friday night, building a bond which would help them to succeed in the classroom, and in life.
The school developed considerably over the years and in 1999 a new site for the school was sought to enable further expansion. The buildings in Seghill were sold and Talbot House transferred its school to larger premises in Walbottle, Newcastle upon Tyne. Here we enjoy an expansive seven-acre site, with buildings that accommodate 60 young people aged 5 to 18 years. We are six miles west from the city centre, on the line of Hadrian’s Wall and, on our doorstep, the beautifully undeveloped countryside of rolling moorland, and the Northumberland National Park. Northumberland is the most sparsely populated and most northerly county in England, and because of its Scottish borders history, it has more castles than any other county in England.
A change in government policy, in particular the introduction of the SEN Code of Practice 2002, meant that there was a stronger right for children with special educational needs to be educated in a mainstream school with the appropriate adjustments. This had a detrimental affect on admissions for a period of over 6 years. Talbot House became a school no longer offering overnight accommodation, and began admitting day placements only. There is no doubt that this was a difficult period of time for the school.
In 2010, the trustees and senior management team decided to develop part of the top floor into a children's home. Offering accommodation for up to 6 children who could not live within a family environment. The home, independent from the school operation, accepted children who required education in our school as well as those who would attend other schools in the region. After this development Talbot House School became Talbot House Trust in 2014. The trust has become an important regional resource with significantly positive outcomes to the work that we do with young people in this region. Our core activities are education and children's residential care. The importance of the individual within the environment and how bespoke programmes are geared to take into account the wide-ranging variety of needs young people bring to our setting are all-important.