Who is Cora Barclay?
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) with the goal of teaching children who were hearing impaired to speak and communicate using oral methods of instruction. At the time there were significant numbers of children whose hearing had been affected by the Rubella epidemic in the early 1940’s.
Critical to its beginnings, which remains true today, was and is, the appointment of quality specialist teaching staff.
In 1952, Mrs Cora Barclay, a trained school teacher, 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. She left 2 young children with her husband, in Adelaide, to undertake this training. This 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, 37 years as Principal.
Cora was totally dedicated to the Auditory-Verbal Therapy (AVT) approach to the education of deaf and hearing impaired children. She was steadfast in her advocacy for this approach in the jungle of professional debate around therapy and teaching methods- which still continues today. However, the difference today is that there now exists a body of evidence that supports learning through listening as the most effective way of developing spoken language, cognition and literacy skills.
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 as well as being made a Life Member of the Australian Association for Teachers of the Deaf in 1986
In February 1990, to honour Mrs Barclay’s work, the school was renamed the Cora Barclay Centre for Children with Hearing Impairment Inc., now known today as the Cora Barclay Centre.