School’s makaton shows a sign of things to come

Bedenham Primary School pupils (from left) Sofia Nash (11), Kimberley Thomson (11), Jessica Sutton (11), Sophie Boothby (11), and Tiffany Taylor (10)'''Picture Ian Hargreaves  (180498-1)
Bedenham Primary School pupils (from left) Sofia Nash (11), Kimberley Thomson (11), Jessica Sutton (11), Sophie Boothby (11), and Tiffany Taylor (10)'''Picture Ian Hargreaves (180498-1)

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TEACHING children sign language means they can chat to anyone in their community, according to a primary school.

Pupils from Bedenham Primary School in Bridgemary Avenue, Gosport, have been learning makaton, a form of sign language, with the help of teachers who set up the project this year.

Students have since performed for parents and the rest of the school, showing not only a jump in their own confidence but also how far their sign language has come in just a few months.

Head of school Caroline Wood says that she couldn’t be prouder of her students’ enthusiasm for learning makaton.

She said: ‘The parents were absolutely blown away by what the children have learned. It was an incredibly emotional performance and the children have worked so hard to learn all the songs and signs.

‘A lot of credit has to go to Chris Plow and Marie Smith, who organised and supported the choir. The choir has been meeting once a week at lunchtimes and this was the culmination of their hard work and dedication.

‘They’ve only been working on this for the past couple of terms and they have done extremely well.’

Having shown off their new talent to their parents, the choir will soon be reaching out further into the community, with the goal of making makaton a more widely-known form of communication.

Mrs Wood said: ‘We’re hoping to now go out into the community and engage with as many people as we can.

‘We want to do things at shopping centres, local care homes and things like that. Learning makaton has had a big impact on these youngsters and we want to spread that interest and engagement into the community.

‘It’s amazing to know that these children can go out into the community and talk to people who can only communicate through sign language; some have friends or siblings who use makaton and it’s so special to us that they can now properly communicate with one another.

‘At the moment we have around 30 children in the makaton choir but it seems like everyone in the school wants to be part of it now!

‘The staff here are now also learning makaton too – it seems to be growing very quickly and we’ll definitely been carrying this on for many years to come.’