Why Makaton should be included

Why Makaton should be included

Female teacher with boy and girl playing with some colourful bowlsBeing able to communicate is one of the most important skills we need in life. Almost everything we do involves communication; everyday tasks such as learning at school, asking for food and drink, sorting out problems, making friends and having fun.

These all rely on our ability to communicate with each other.

Makaton enables the development of fundamental communication skills in early years, as well as the development of broader communication, language and literacy skills in children and young adults.

Makaton can have positive outcomes for a wide range of needs, including children with:

  • Specific learning difficulties
  • Moderate learning difficulties
  • Severe learning difficulties
  • Profound and multiple difficulties
  • Physical difficulties
  • Behavioural emotional and social difficulties
  • Autistic spectrum disorders
  • Hearing impairment
  • Multi-sensory difficulties


In 2012 the Department for Education published the Better Communication Research Programme (BCRP), which focused on children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).

Graph: Use of Makaton with children | 0-2 year olds: 82% | | 2-3 year olds: 75% | 4-5 year olds: 56% | 5-7 year olds: 61%The BCRP shows that Makaton is the most widely used intervention with children 0-2yrs with 82% or Speech and Language Therapists using Makaton. It is also the second most widely used tool for 0-7yrs.

Makaton is the chosen tool by Speech and Language Therapists and implemented by educational teams and parents. It can be used on its own or with other interventions such as Derbyshire Language Scheme, TEACCH Autism Programme, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and many others.

Makaton is the only intervention which uses signs and symbols that is included in the What Works database; a resource created by The Communication Trust and endorsed by The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists that records evidenced interventions for Speech, Language and Communication Needs.

Using Makaton at specialist, targeted and universal levels

Using Makaton contributes to children and young people achieving at specialist, targeted and universal levels.

Makaton is used at a universal level to support all children in developing essential skills:

  • communication and language
  • personal, social and emotional development
  • literacy, including phonological awareness
  • numeracy
  • understanding of the world
  • expressive arts and design, including modern languages
  • physical development

At a targeted and specialist level Makaton ensures that provision can be matched to a child's identified Special Educational Need (SEN). This results in positive outcomes in:

  • communication and interaction
  • cognition and learning
  • social, emotional and mental health
  • sensory and/or physical needs

What are the outcomes of using Makaton for children and young people?

Using Makaton contributes to the development of communication and language skills which leads to positive outcomes for children and young people.

Skills developed

  • Social
  • Interaction
  • Pre-verbal
  • Expression
  • Attention and listening
  • Understanding
  • Vocabulary development

Leading to the following outcomes

  • Enjoyment of communication
  • Inclusion
  • Confidence
  • Independence
  • Improved behaviour
  • Improved relationships
  • Increased skills
Little Learners

Young girl signing red

Little Learners is a Makaton Friendly pre-school in Penzance. Their vision was to teach all their children a core level of signing which could enable both their own communication and with others they would meet...


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