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17th Jan 2024

Primary school children taught sign language as part of curriculum

Charlie Herbert

Primary school children taught sign language as part of curriculum

Sign language was added to the curriculum to help accommodate a hearing-impaired pupil

A primary school in Cumbria has started teaching its pupils British Sign Language (BSL) as part of the curriculum.

In October, Dane Ghyll Community Primary School swapped BSL in for French, making it one of the first schools in the country to teach sign language.

They made the decision to accommodate Phoenix, a student at the school who is hearing-impaired.

Headteacher Peter Mills told the BBC Cumbria: “We looked at his classroom at first and how we can make that more suitable for him.

“Then we started looking at it more in a curriculum way, so although it’s teaching them lots, they’re learning about inclusion and it’s developed the school and the school community.”

Janice Lippett, right, is helping teach the pupils (BBC Cumbria)

Janice Lippet is deaf and works alongside teachers to deliver the lessons.

She said: “It’s so important. It’s fantastic that they’ve got this opportunity and it’s great for them for the future if they meet any deaf person, wherever they might be.”

Along with teaching BSL as part of the curriculum, the school also a BSL pupil choir who put on performances.

The school even has a sign language choir (BBC Cumbria)

In December, the government announced that BSL would be taught as a GCSE in England from September 2025.

The qualification will see pupils learn some 1,000 signs, with Education Secretary Gillian Keegan saying the subject will “open so many doors for young people”.

In 2022, BSL was officially recognised as a language in the UK.

Related links:

Margot Robbie praised after unexpectedly switching to sign language to greet deaf fan