To mark Deaf Awareness Week, Fareham Academy held BSL Factor on Tuesday. As well as performances in BSL, there was an insight into Deaf history, and members of the Deaf community on the judging panel.
The concert featured 12 students aged between 13 and 15, who have been learning British Sign Language as part of the skills portion of their Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Fareham Academy has a specialist provision for students who have a hearing loss, allowing students access to a mainstream curriculum.
Lily Jones from the school, who with communication support worker Corrine Hewitt – who taught students the sign language – organised the concert, said: ‘At Fareham Academy we actively promote and encourage a total communication approach, where we use a combination of; British Sign Language, finger spelling, nature gesture, lip-reading, speaking and listening and visual support to aid effective communication with students who have a hearing loss.
‘These 12 students chose to learn BSL to enable themselves to communicate fully with others and become more inclusive in and out of school. One in five people have hearing loss, so learning the skills to be more inclusive is more important than ever.’
During the concert, the students performed songs like We Will Rock You, where the audience were taught the signs and joined in, We Don't Talk About Bruno from Disney film Encanto, and This Is Me from The Greatest Showman (which created a standing ovation at the end of the night!).
Ms Jones said: ‘It is safe to say there was not a dry eye in the house after the final performance.
‘Throughout the night, our three judges from the Deaf community (Kirsty, Shane and Suzanne), along with headteacher Chris Prankerd judged the performances, and often they asked for a score card higher than 10! Kirsty, Shane and Suzanne were extremely impressed with the quality of the sign language shown by the students and could not believe that some of them had been signing for such a short time. The students were also able to have conversations in BSL with the judges because of the skills they have learnt over the past six months.’