Jul 06, 2017
With their eyes only, pupils picture more school outings

The power of art is fuelling a special school's bid to put a minibus on the road.

Work created using eye-tracking technology by severely physically disabled pupils at Hull's Frederick Holmes School is on display at Williamsons Solicitors' offices in the Old Town.

As part of its community programme, Williamsons has made a £1,250 donation to the minibus fund for the pictures and is continuing to help the school move towards its funding target.

The law firm's relationship with Frederick Holmes also includes visiting its Inglemire Lane premises to give legal advice to parents.

Nick Gray, head of the firm’s clinical negligence department, said the children's work was inspirational and stood on its own merits.

"They have severe physical disabilities and the technology enables them to produce vibrant and striking pictures.

"We want more people to see the amazing results they can achieve and be inspired to help the school."

The Eyegaze system in use at Frederick Holmes allows pupils to work with computers using their eyes only.

The Lord's Taverners charity has pledged £52,250 towards the cost of the minibus, which will be specially adapted for wheelchairs. The school has so far raised £20,000 and is seeking at least £1,500 a year towards maintenance and running costs.

"Our target is to have the minibus on the road by the end of the summer," said head teacher Barbara Ribey.

"It will be our first minibus and a great addition. Travel requires a lot of planning, as we need a one-to-one staff/pupil ratio, or close to it, when we go out, and having the bus will make it more practicable to provide new and uplifting experiences for our pupils. We truly appreciate Williamsons' interest in the work of our school."

Williamsons' staff will have opportunities to add to the fundraising effort over the next few months.

Helen Maddison, assistant head teacher at the school, said support from local businesses was crucial to providing new experiences for pupils and helping them to reach their potential.

Frederick Holmes School is a community special school for pupils aged from two to 19 with severe physical disabilities and those with profound and multiple needs. It has 80 pupils on its roll.