Oldham-based Lyndhurst Primary School has introduced weekly British Sign Language lessons across every year group to help better connect their pupils with hopes that British Sign Language will become 'second-nature' to them and the local community.
The initiative was set up to help support and improve the lives of five-year-old deaf pupil Mohammed Daud who needs BSL and sign supported English (SSE) to access education, and two other children with hearing impairments at the school.
At the start of the month the school celebrated International Deaf Week by signing songs in assembly and now continues to help implement this knowledge throughout the community by keeping pupil's parents updated through the school's website to help encourage them to get involved.
Although there are 11 million people with hearing loss in the UK – with 50,000 of those being children – the national school curriculum does not dictate that lessons in British Sign Language should be included on pupils’ timetables making the work at Lyndhurst Primary School unique.
As part of Lyndhurst’s commitment, Amy Scoltock, a dedicated Education Communicator with over 10 years’ experience of working with hearing impaired children, is now a member of staff at the school and has been helping run the sessions alongside Deputy Head Rob Hollingsworth.
Amy commented: "As a school we feel very strongly about equality, and as we have three pupils who are hard of hearing children, we felt this was an important part of our day-to-day curriculum.
"We are teaching the children in school about effective communication and how to overcome barriers and become more successful communicators to one another, and sign language is an important part of that.”
Lyndhurst Primary School operates as part of Focus Trust, a charitable multi-academy trust which is based in the North West of England, with the vision of providing an engaging and challenging learning environment where the children are happy.
Acting Headteacher Rob added: “At Lyndhurst we want to make learning and education accessible to all, so to be able to roll out BSL lessons across the school is a great step forward in achieving this goal.
“We hope this will help give our three pupils with hearing impairments the same opportunities as the other pupils at the school.”
The school's Headteacher, Liz Egan-Walsh also began her teaching career at Royal Schools for the Deaf in Cheadle – now formally known as the Seashell Trust – and has since become a qualified teacher of the visually impaired.
As the Special Educational Needs Coordinator for the school she made clear that this initiative forms part of the school's wider ethos of inclusivity for all children.