A RETIRED couple who turned their home into a school for bullied children are not letting age slow them down in their quest to provide a good education for victims of the growing problem among today’s youth.
Fred and Vivian Morgan, aged 94 and 72 respectively, bought Northleigh House in Hatton nine years ago and took over running it as a small hotel.
But after hearing increasingly common stories about children committing suicide due to bullying, the husband and wife team decided to transform their ten-bedroom home into a school for victims.
Vivian, who is chair of trustees at the school, said: “We were looking for something to use our house for and I saw a few things on the news about children who had killed themselves after being bullied. I thought how terrible it was and knew we had to help.
“We started raising funds and approached local authorities about setting up the school, then met a super lady called Jill who is now our headteacher.
“Nearly half of the children who come or have been to Northleigh have tried to commit suicide due to bullying. It’s really different here because we put such an emphasis on social and emotional care and have more staff to help work around the specialist needs of the children.”
Fred and Vivian – who spend the rest of their free time with their daughter and five-year-old grandson – still live at Northleigh, but on weekdays share their home with 20 pupils aged 11 to 17 taught by headteacher Jill Cornfield who oversees 22 strong staff, who are not all full-time.
Since opening in 2012 they have transformed a number of the rooms into classrooms.
But much of the house is still as it was – with comfortable lounges, sofas, curtains and a log fire, which many of the pupils sit by at lunchtime.
And the amount of children needing to come to the school is growing – something Vivian blames on social media.
She said: “We are nearly at full capacity now, and as children leave there is a need for more to come here.
“Many children were unable to attend school and have even committed suicide due to the relentless pressure of bullies, who due to social media can follow their victims day and night.
“It is so lovely to see them gain confidence here and move on with the chance of a happy life. Every day here is very busy and enjoyable.”
Due to the needs of the pupils at Northleigh, much of the school funded by donations.
And now staff are looking for an extra boost to help convert Northleigh’s barn into a sports and drama centre, set to cost around £40,000.
Visit www.northleigh.co.uk to find out more about the school or visit www.gofundme.com/northleighhouse to donate.
Alex and teacher Phil on the sports field. 12.015.015.leam.jm6
Viv decided to turn the hotel into a school for bullied children three years ago. 12.015.015.leam.jm5
HeadteacherJill Cornfield helps ensure pupils forced out of mainstream school due to bullying get a good education in a safe environment. 12.015.015.leam.jm8