The High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear visits Northern Counties School

The High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear, David W Bavaird, paid a visit to children at Northern Counties School to teach us all about the history and role of a High Sheriff.

There have been High Sheriffs for at least 1,000 years. The appointment is actually the oldest in our country. The original ‘Shire Reeves’ were Royal Officials appointed to enforce the King’s interests in a County, in particular the collection of revenues and the enforcement of law and order.

Many of the early Sherriff’s of Northumberland came from well know Northumbrian families, Armstrong, Delaval, Percy, Grey, Bewick, and Collingwood.

The children were even able to teach the High Sheriff that our very own Armstrong Department is originally named after the Armstrong family, who made a financial donation to what was Northern Counties School for the Deaf, back in the 1800s. Lord Armstrong of Cragside was a high sheriff in 1899.

The High Sheriff was also able to enjoy a brilliant performance from our Signing Choir!

Local Business Leaders Learn BSL at Northern Counties School

As part of Deaf Awareness Week and our students’ study programme, Northern Counties School hosted a Networking and Signing Session where CEO’s from local businesses attended to learn lots of British Sign Language basics from our students.

Our students not only got to raise awareness for BSL, in light of the recent BSL Act 2022 campaign from the British Deaf Association to give legal recognition to British Sign Language but they gained important experience as part of their ASDAN qualification.

We were delighted to see so many local business leaders come to support our students. They learned useful signs ranging from the alphabet and numbers, to daily phrases like family member terms and colours. Everyone learned a performance which they delivered in groups to the song “I Can Sign A Rainbow” which was given very enthusiastically!

To finish the session, the Northern Counties Signing Choir gave an emotional performance of The Greatest Showmans “This Is Me” and “A Million Dreams” which guests agreed was empowering to see. The choir haven’t been able to do an in person performance for over 2 years due to the pandemic, and students were ecstatic to be able to perform for an audience again.

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The session was a hit, and we’re looking forward to be able to host more events like this. A huge thank you to all of those that attended!

John Knight – CEO, Percy Hedley Foundation
Hugh Welch – Senior Partner, Muckle LLP
Mark Bryce – Director, Agilico
Paul Szomoru – Director of Business Events, Newcastle Gateshead Initiative
Marc Cranston –  Director, Inspired Group
Olivia Macgill – Commercial Director, Hilton Newcastle Gateshead
Karen Emerson – Leadership Trust Executive Coach
Susan Jopling – Trustee, Percy Hedley Foundation
Louise Horsefield – Communications and Business Development, Percy Hedley Foundation
Kate Hellens – Managing Director, Hellens Group
Rachel Conroy – CEO, HLF Group
Annabelle Jones and Erin Bryce – 6th Form Students, Newcastle High School for Girls                                                                 

Here is a roundup of the day

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You can see a full gallery of the day below

National Careers Week 2022

Last week we did our (slightly delayed) Careers Week which is about linking students with the world of work.  Students from our schools and college have been meeting with a wide range of employers and learning about lots of different careers. 

We kicked off Careers Week on Monday with TeenyWeenyVR who gave a demonstration with VR headsets and how they help children and young people with SEND.

On Tuesday, students also had a talk from Newcastle United Foundation, about their workplace, including a virtual tour of St James’ Part and a video about Club Manager Eddie Howe and player Matt Targett. There was also a presentation from Atomhawk, an art and design studio that provides animation and interactive design in the gaming industry; They spoke about roles within the industry. 

On Wednesday, Students and Members had an interactive visit from Newcastle Castle, where they dressed in Medieval clothing and made gingerbread with a 1400s recipe.

On Thursday, Impact Workwear visited to discuss Health and Safety in the workplace, with former student, James Piet, who discussed what he does for work there. 

On Friday morning, some students visited Eldon Square to help with an accessibility review of the centre with their Community & Events Coordinator, which helped them learn more about accessibility in the workplace. 

Students have had a very enriching week learning from a range of different employers, discussing careers and opening up their future opportunities.

Get in touch with the form below if you would like to be involved with any future employability programme events:

Please see our full gallery below of the full week.

Fundraising for Ukraine at Northern Counties School

On Friday 18th March, as part of Red Nose Day activities, everyone at Northern Counties School decided to do everything they could to raise important funds for Save The Children in aid of refugee children fleeing Ukraine.

Children throughout Northern Counties came together to create different arts and crafts to sell, and all money raised was donated. They made painted candle holders, friendship bracelets, tote bags, and painted hanging decorations. Everyone also enjoyed Ukraine flag tattoos, a delicious bake sale, and a raffle.

Teachers went all out to make it as fun as possible with fantastic activities like a sensory corner and a tumble splatter station with water balloons. You can tell just how much children enjoyed it by how covered they were in mess from the fun!

Please see our full gallery below of everything we got up to!

Rainbow Day – LGBTQ+ History Month

As part of LGBTQ+ History Month, parts of the Foundation took part in Rainbow Day as a way to celebrate and learn.

Northern Counties School took part in rainbow related crafts throughout the day. Students created their own rainbow flags and rainbow tie-dye t-shirts to wear for their fantastic pride march in the afternoon. At the pride march there was music, parachute games and lots of dancing!

Chipchase House got stuck in painting pride flags as well as having an educational presentation in the lounge. Later residents and staff enjoyed a karaoke session honouring some of the great LGBTQ stars!

Take a look at a video roundup of the day at Northern Counties:

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Take a look at the Northern Counties Gallery:

Take a look at the Chipchase Gallery:

Kieran is a member of our Northern Counties Post-14 class in the Hillcrest Centre, and has recently been awarded his Duke of Edinburgh, bronze award.

He has worked exceptionally hard to achieve this award, and was even lucky enough to have it presented to him by wilderness expert, Ray Mears!

 For his Physical, Section Kieran developed his rock climbing, and he can now climb routes containing overhangs. For his Skills Section, he worked on his cooking skills, helping to make the family meal as well as cakes and desserts. For the volunteering section (along with the support of his class) he worked in the orchard at the neighbouring graveyard.


Earlier this month Kieran even trekked from Keswick to near Penrith with a full backpack over a two day period. He cooked his meals and helped put up his tent, and slept in a tent for the very first time.


We’re all so very proud of his achievement, well done Keiran!

Northern Counties School – Remembrance Day

Pupils at Northern Counties School have been learning about Remembrance Day this week and thinking of ways they can remember the fallen. The Deaf Department got together Thursday morning and have been making a poppy wreath to show their respects.

Hillcrest pupils have also been busy this week. Jen’s class created some beautiful poppy prints, using hands and poppies. They also used their Forest School lesson to learn how to make poppies inspired by nature.

Annmarie’s class have made their own poppy window display.

Northern Counties School 2021 NASS Outstanding Impact Award – Nomination

The Percy Hedley Foundation are delighted to announce that Northern Counties School has been shortlisted for the prestigious National Association of Independent Schools & Non-Maintained Special Schools (NASS) Awards.

The school has been shortlisted for the 2021 NASS Award for Outstanding Impact in recognition of the work that Northern Counties are doing around Positive Behaviour Support, which leads to improved quality of life outcomes for our young people. 

Northern Counties School, based in Jesmond, is a school that sets out to make a difference to the learning, wellbeing and future life chances of over 100 children and young people with significant additional needs. 

Teachers, therapists and special support assistants work together in trans-disciplinary teams to meet the individual needs of every pupil and help them succeed. 

This Outstanding Impact award focuses on the work that has profoundly impacted the outcomes for children and young people. It recognises a continued excellence over an extended period of time, while delivering innovation, imagination, and outstanding good practice. 

Jo Allen, Head Teacher of Northern Counties School commented: 

“I must say I am absolutely thrilled that we, at Northern Counties School, have been shortlisted for the 2021 NASS Outstanding Impact Award. I am so proud of the whole staff team here, they are deeply committed to all the children and young people, always going above and beyond to ensure all our pupils achieve the best possible outcomes. This award nominate really is a fantastic recognition of everyone single member of staff’s hard work and dedication.” 

D’Arcy Myers, The Percy Hedley Foundation Interim CEO added: 

“The nomination for this award is just another example of our schools being recognised for the brilliant work the staff do every day, in what has been an extremely challenging period within education. Best of luck at the awards and hopefully they can bring back the trophy to the North East.”  

The winners will be announced at the 2021 NASS Annual Conference being held on the 12 & 13 October at The Principal Hotel, York.  

Northern Counties School retains Healthy School Status

We are delighted to announce that Northern Counties School has continued to meet the requirements of Newcastle Healthy School Status, and has successfully retained Newcastle Healthy School Status for a further 2 years. Congratulations!


Newcastle Council said “Northern Counties School continues to meet the requirements of Newcastle Healthy School Status and is maintaining and improving practice in relation to supporting pupil wellbeing. Some excellent and outstanding health promoting practice is evident, with some key areas for development identified to support continuous improvement.”

Huge congratulations to everybody involved!