Portesbery School

Clare P
23rd March 2012

A teacher helps a boy pupil with his PECS symbols


There is nothing more pleasurable than being able to communicate with a child and for them to be able to communicate back…

We promote many forms of communication within our school in order to give the pupils the best chance to “be heard” and for them to understand and be understood. Makaton is widely used on its own and alongside other forms of communication such as PECs, the use of symbols and electronic communicators. The staff are encouraged every morning with a ‘sign of the day’ and every pupil experiences Makaton in some form throughout their day. Its use is also promoted with students that already have speech in order that they can communicate with their peers.

Makaton is used with our pupils even if they are unable to sign back as it enables them to have visual concrete clues as to what is being asked or requested of them. We find that using Makaton helps us (as adults) to give clearer instructions to pupils and slow our speech down and so we give much clearer concise information rather than using too many words. Throughout the school we use symbols to support learning through symbolled books, visual timetables, shopping list, and many other ways. For us, as a school, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the look on a child’s face when they have mastered a sign for the first time and realise that they have been understood!

Pupils are encouraged to use Makaton across a variety of settings whether it’s shopping in town, visiting the local church café, or going into other educational establishments. It has been embraced in our inclusion schools with mainstream pupils eager to learn signs in order to interact with their new friends.

We encourage parents to attend our courses and one parent commented that her daughters face lit up to realise that Mum was speaking her language and she was then able to show her Mum some signs!

Makaton doesn’t have to be scary or daunting; everyone can learn a few signs which can really make a difference in the lives of our very special children!

At school

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