The Cora Barclay Centre started its life as the South Australian Oral Pre-School Group on 8th October 1945 (in 1950 it became a School) by Elizabeth Forwood with the goal of teaching children who were hearing impaired to speak and communicate using oral methods of instruction. Elizabeth, driven by her own daughter’s deafness, as a result of contracting Rubella during pregnancy, established the school. At the time there were significant numbers of children whose hearing had been affected by the Rubella epidemic in the early 1940’s. Elizabeth, along with mothers similarly affected by the epidemic, formed a provisional committee on the 8th October 1945 to raise money and put their educational plans for their children into effect.
Elizabeth, like the other mothers, had a very clear vision- they wanted their children to speak. Her single minded focus led her to find out as much as she could about deafness and the educational possibilities available within the state, interstate and overseas.
In honour of Elizabeth’s founding work, the front part of the Centre, which is an original turn of the century villa, is named Elizabeth Forwood House.
Critical to its beginnings, which remains true today, was and is the appointment of quality specialist teaching staff.
In 1952, Mrs Cora Barclay commenced as Principal of the School. She had been involved with the school as a parent since 1946 and undertook significant overseas training to undertake this role. At the time, this was considered a very progressive move by a mother to train overseas. (no-one had the expertise in Australia to train her). She left 2 young children with her husband in Adelaide to do this, which was a testament to her dedication and commitment to the School and its purpose. She was a pioneer of her time and remained at the Centre for 40 years as Principal.
The School weathered many changes, however the guiding philosophies of excellence in delivering the best outcomes for children who were deaf, remained, driven by the untiring efforts of Mrs Cora Barclay. She laid the foundation of principles which are still relevant today. Her efforts were rewarded with an OBE in 1969.
In 1990, the School was renamed the Cora Barclay Centre for Children with Hearing Impairment Inc. in honour of Cora’s outstanding achievements with children who are deaf or hearing impaired.
Today the organisation is simply known as the Cora Barclay Centre.
To read current and past Annual Reports please click here.