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Should sign language be compulsory in schools?

Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,954

Scope community team

Jade Kilduff was on Good Morning Britain today, raising awareness for the campaign for basic sign language to be taught in schools across the UK.

Jade creates music videos with her four-year-old brother who has Cerebral Palsy and other diagnoses. She has been teaching him Makaton to help him communicate and they’ve been creating and sharing music videos on their YouTube channel Sign along with us.

Despite Makaton being a fantastic language programme that helps to support and promote the development of communication skills and BSL being a recognised official language in the UK since 2003, there are no plans to make any form of sign language or visual language programme compulsory on the curriculum.

With a second language being compulsory in mainstream education, do you think sign language should be an option, or even compulsory in all schools?

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Replies

  • dolfrogdolfrog Member Posts: 440 Pioneering
    Each individual can has their own sensory strengths and weaknesses, and somee may have more sensory processing limitations than others and to help work around their limitations they develop what are called alternative compensating skills and abilities based on their personal sensory processing strengths to help them work around their sensory processing limitations.
    Languages are the creation of members of society created to help communicate with others who may have the same interests, or the same social interactions, and the most basic form is body language.
    There are multiple variation of sign language Makaton, named after its creators, BSL, and even various for of American SL (ASL) all of which are used in various English speaking communities and have their differences. 
    May be using pictures, graphics, diagrams, charts etc would be a good option. It really depends on who you want to communicate with and understanding their communication strengths and weaknesses, and understanding how best to communicate with multiple individuals who can have multiple different types of communication strengths and communication weaknesses, there is no one size fits all 
  • ABCDEABCDE Member Posts: 5 Connected
    Yes it should be compulsory, without doubt. 
    ASL is native to America not here. BSL is the signed language used in Britain. 
    Makaton is a language support system, it Is not a language in its own right. 
    BSL is rich and so flexible and adaptable for all ages. When lessons are interpreted in to BSL the visual learners in the class look at the interpretation to support understanding. The impact of BSL in classrooms is profound and magical. Everyone should learn. Great for dexterity and coordination. It's also a great go-to when you lose your voice/ you're in a noisy environment or want to be discreet! 👍
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,954

    Scope community team

    Thanks @dolfrog, that's really interesting. Particularly:
    dolfrog said:
    Languages are the creation of members of society created to help communicate with others who may have the same interests, or the same social interactions, and the most basic form is body language.
    Senior Community Partner
    Scope

    Your feedback is really important to the development of the online community, so please remember to complete our online community annual survey
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,954

    Scope community team

    Thanks @ABCDE, I do agree it should be taught or at the very least offered as an option for GCSE or instead of the typical French/German/Spanish. 
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    Scope

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  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    edited September 2019
    For those who struggle to communicate, it should be considered as a option. There is no incorrect answer either. Each person who finds communication difficult must experiment and see what works for them. For some people with communication issues, this includes AAC devices, for others, a communication book may do the trick! It depends on the individual, what their issues are and their strengths and weaknesses as well. 
    I don't think it needs to be mandatory however. Just having it there as a option is sufficient. In mainstream schools, I doubt sign language would be needed, but for special needs schools across the UK, it could be a practical alternative. This is a interesting topic. I'm interested to read other perspectives and opinions on this subject too. I do think it should be offered as a club or after school extracurricular club or activity though. 
  • Ami2301Ami2301 Community Co-Production Group Posts: 7,472 Disability Gamechanger
    I think it should definitely be on the curriculum. Sign language is a lot more useful than having to learn French/German/Spanish - having hearing difficulties now, I would have appreciated to have had the option of studying Sign Language. 
    Disability Gamechanger - 2019
  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    Ami2301 said:
    I think it should definitely be on the curriculum. Sign language is a lot more useful than having to learn French/German/Spanish - having hearing difficulties now, I would have appreciated to have had the option of studying Sign Language. 
    There is nothing bad about learning a foreign language like French/German etc. I agree with you to some extent but I also strongly believe our schools should also offer challenging subjects for pupils without learning disabilities. 
  • Ami2301Ami2301 Community Co-Production Group Posts: 7,472 Disability Gamechanger
    I have nothing against learning a foreign language, I enjoyed learning French during my school years. But learning BSL would have been much more useful than learning a foreign language I doubt I will ever use again.
    Disability Gamechanger - 2019
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,954

    Scope community team

    I've been trying to learn BSL for a short while now. I'd definitely say it's a challenging subject! 

    There's nothing wrong with learning a language such as French and German. The argument is that perhaps British Sign Language should also be an option, and not just for pupils with learning disabilities. I know had it been offered when I was at school I would have picked it over the French and German I was made to learn.
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    Scope

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  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
  • Ami2301Ami2301 Community Co-Production Group Posts: 7,472 Disability Gamechanger
    I've learnt how to sign 'would you like to come to my wedding' but it's a bit late to add anyone to the guest list now @Adrian_Scope 😂

    In all seriousness though, I do think BSL should be compulsory. 
    Disability Gamechanger - 2019
  • dolfrogdolfrog Member Posts: 440 Pioneering
    edited September 2019
    The gene most associated with the evolution of language is FOXP2 which was identified during the research into Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia in the late 1990s. Other species have also developed this gene as part of their communication evolution.

  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    edited September 2019
    If it helps, I found this article on the benefits of sign language interesting to read
    https://www.theschoolrun.com/sign-language-and-makaton-in-schools
  • AilsAils Member Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    I definitely think that BSL should be made compulsory in schools.  It would help so many people.  
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    I also believe that colleges should offer sign language classes as well. If anyone is interested in a qualification https://www.signature.org.uk/where-can-i-learn
  • MisscleoMisscleo Member Posts: 646 Pioneering
    YES is the answer id love to learn it.
    Everyone should. 
    How can.we help a deft person if we can't communicate with them
  • ABCDEABCDE Member Posts: 5 Connected
    edited September 2019
    Just imagine....
    BSL taught in primary and KS3 and optional ks4 upwards. 
    It would have a positive influence on the attitudes and perceptions of the general public towards those with communication needs. 
    BSL is a beautiful language, and like any language is easier to learn when immersed in the language; unlike with French and German, the deaf community is active everywhere. 
    Body language and facial expressions are part of BSL, and even if children choose not to opt for it in KS4, their learning up to that point will have embedded a positive inclusive attitude and communication strategies to use day to day, as well as  greater awareness and insight into deaf culture. 
    The impact on the social model of disability would be huge.
    Deaf and hard of hearing people would have much better access and inclusion in society. 
    Staff working in the care sector would enter the profession with that knowledge and experience. 
    And support staff would actually sign to their service users...... FINALLY! 

    I know the profound impact this could have.
    But it's a bit like winning the lottery- you need to buy a ticket to win it. 
    We need to put bsl into schools. 

    *Taught by the deaf, with bsl as their first language... That bit's also quite important!
  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    I think that for the care industry, sign language courses should be available just in case. Care workers could sign to any deaf service users which would reduce frustration instead of relying on traditional methods of communication. I also want people working at special need schools to learn sign language as it would make such a difference too! 
    We should start a campaign or petition to make sign language part of the curriculum for special needs schools across the UK. That would be a start and also a step in the right direction. Only then will deaf people be happy and feel a part of society as well. Who's with me? 
  • pollyanna1052pollyanna1052 Member Posts: 2,004 Disability Gamechanger
    It wouldnt hurt
  • ABCDEABCDE Member Posts: 5 Connected
    I think that for the care industry, sign language courses should be available just in case. Care workers could sign to any deaf service users which would reduce frustration instead of relying on traditional methods of communication. I also want people working at special need schools to learn sign language as it would make such a difference too! 
    We should start a campaign or petition to make sign language part of the curriculum for special needs schools across the UK. That would be a start and also a step in the right direction. Only then will deaf people be happy and feel a part of society as well. Who's with me? 
    Some good points here. 
    It's important to bear in mind: 
    *Deaf people aren't the only users of sign language. 
    *Children and adults who can hear but do not have the ability (including temporarily) to speak need to be able to communicate..this is where sign language is so desperately needed. 
    *All of the above attend mainstream schools as well as special schools. 
    *Not all deaf people use sign language...but most do. 
    *A significant percentage of those that go through school lip reading, learn sign language as an adult and regret not having learnt as a child as it 'makes life so much easier'. (Some local authories won't/ will do absolutely everything possible to avoid providing a support worker that can sign). 
    *Special schools (in my experience) are very flexible and adaptable to the communication needs of their pupils. They usually use makaton. It would be better if they had communication champions who had (minimum) BSL level 3 and experience in the deaf community. 
    *The government produced a policy made clear the requirements of care providers to communicate using their client's preferred method of communication.
    *(Therefore) all care providers should have staff that are not just trained to sign but can ACTUALLY sign, as the majority of adults with special needs are non verbal....
    *In reality these adults are completely and utterly 'locked in' because of no communication.
    *Staff are only trained to understand that their client's
    may use different forms of communication. 
    *Training does not even
     include recognising behaviour as a form of communication, and could  indicate a
    safeguarding issue. 
    *Signing training is NOT mandatory (to any degree) in the educational/ care sector.
    *Managers absolutely, categorically do not expect/ encourage their staff to sign with their clients. 
    *The reason staff give for not signing is 'they feel silly'.
    *The reasons given by managers are; cost and intelligence of their staff. 

    All true and experienced personally and professionally. 
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