School Culture

David Bush: ‘Crippled’ Ships

David was born in 1948 in Slough, Berkshire. After spending over two years in hospital and one year at home with a tutor, David was sent to a residential special school at the age of eight. He remained there until he was sixteen, when he attended a mainstream college.

Here David recalls a military culture within his school.

  • David Bush
  • David Bush


Chailey Heritage had a school song which actually was recorded, and it's a fairly hideous song, but the children at the school were regarded as, were likened to being ships, sailing through life, and the opening line of this school song was 'The ships in Chailey Dockyard lay crippled as they could be'. And then it goes on to say how these ships are repaired in the dock, basically repaired for a world outside when they leave. It's only now looking back and you can see how the world's changed, I mean the word 'cripple' just makes you cringe nowadays, yes, so, yeah.

I enjoyed my time there, it was fairly cruel in some ways, I mean when I went there to start with there was almost a strict, military regime amongst, it was a bit of hang-up from, well I think during the War years they actually had injured soldiers. I remember we used to have Inspection outside on the parade ground, it didn't matter whether it was raining or what, you had cloaks, we used to have the inspection and also in your dormitory you had to make your own bed, and clean your own shoes and, and you used to stand by your bed for that inspection there as well.

Explore more

Explore stories by theme or view the timeline of significant events in education for disabled people

A selection of other stories...