BSL now part of children’s curriculum

Thursday 4 July
BSL now part of children's curriculum

July 04 at 00:00

Thousands of babies and children in the UK are now exposed to sign supported English, in nurseries and schools, thanks to a mother of two profoundly deaf daughters.

Kathy Robinson hoped that one day all children would be exposed to sign language at an early age and that the use of sign language as a multi-sensory memory clue to children’s early language and literacy learning would be accepted as an integral part of the national curriculum. After 15 years of research and development and with the help of leading awarding organisation NOCN, Kathy’s vision has finally become a reality.

For the first time, ‘Using/Promoting Signing to Advance Speech, Language and Communication’ are Level 2 and 3 optional units in the Children and Young People’s Diploma.

Kathy is the founder of award-winning ‘Signs for Success’, an organisation that trains parents, early years’ practitioners, childminders, teachers, classroom assistants, adult tutors, speech therapists, health visitors and degree students. 

‘Signs for Success’ is one of NOCN’s registered centres and delivers the ‘Using/Promoting Signing to Advance Speech, Language and Communication’ qualification as stand-alone Continuous Professional Development (CPD) with the support of the company’s pioneering Early Years Foundation Stage distance learning course.

Kathy said: “I knew that sign language had to be part of the curriculum and not be seen as an ‘add on’. It needed to contribute and add value to the curriculum or it would never be accepted.”

“When my daughters Sarah and Joanne were struggling to lip read teachers in their mainstream school, I wondered what it would it be like if their teachers signed key signs as they spoke. I had become aware that the deaf people I knew with BSL (British Sign Language) as their first language, all had hearing children whose spoken language and literacy development was far in advance of their peers. I was intrigued to know why. Had the visual and physical nature of signing helped in the very early developmental years to clarify the spoken and written word?”

Kathy’s Signing to Advance Speech, Language and Communication course contains  hundreds of sign supported English activities to plan, carry out and evaluate, providing  practitioners with a specialism and expertise to progress not only their careers but to transform the lives of children.

The course uses key British Sign Language (BSL) signs in spoken English sentences. This has a powerful impact on the brain because children SEE, FEEL, HEAR and DO Words. Add the use of fingerspelling, and you have a fast track to phonics.

Through evaluation, case studies and research, the innovative methodology has been tried and tested and proven phenomenally successful.

Over a six month period, results show that babies and children’s communication skills have increased by 68%, concentration and motivation by 74%, confidence and self-esteem 76% and behaviour by 70%.   

NOCN believes in creating opportunities for all. To help teachers and lecturers to cope and get the best out of their learners, NOCN has built a package of Special Educational Needs (SEN) qualifications; as well as the Signing to Advance Speech, Language and Communication, qualifications include ADHD and Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities and Supporting Individuals with Learning Disabilities to Access Health Care. 

Kathy’s daughters, Sarah and Joanne, are now also teachers of the deaf and parents of hearing babies, Martha and Megan, both of whom learned to speak with the support of signing. Her granddaughters epitomise all that Kathy has tried to achieve.

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