A WOMAN who has dedicated her working life to teaching deaf children in York has retired after 29 years.

Lesley Hutchinson has worked in and around York as a teaching assistant, supporting primary school-aged deaf pupils one-to-one with signing, communication and sometimes providing learning support throughout her career.

A special tea party decked out with bunting was laid on by colleagues to mark Lesley’s retirement this week at Hempland primary academy in the Caddell Centre, York’s centre specialising in teaching primary school-aged deaf children.

Among those invited were pupils with whom she worked years ago and who brought their own children, who are now in turn being taught in the city.

Among those who joined the party with the multi-generational deaf families was Jon Stonehouse, corporate director of children, education and communities and other colleagues who know and have worked with Lesley over the years.

Besides generations of deaf pupils, Lesley has also supported the deaf community signing at services at St Deny’s church and teaching sign language at York College.

Cllr Stuart Rawlings, executive member for education, children and young people, said: “The high quality of teaching for deaf pupils in York is down to the commitment and professionalism of our staff who work tirelessly to uphold it.

“The early years of a deaf child’s education sets important building blocks for later achievement and a positive academic experience, and Lesley excelled in giving our younger deaf pupils that foundation.”

Mr Stonehouse said: “I wish Lesley a very happy retirement, and want to acknowledge the very high standard of teaching she has helped set and which we will strive to continue.

“We will all miss her.”

The Caddell Centre was opened in 2015 and children are taught the mainstream curriculum, where appropriate, with support from specialist teachers and teaching assistants.