Marine Academy Primary has become the first free school in the UK to be awarded Makaton Friendly status by The Makaton Charity.
The Makaton Friendly scheme recognises organisations that strive to make their services accessible to children and adults who use Makaton. Marine Academy Primary (MAP2) in St Budeaux is not only the first free school, but also the first mainstream primary school south of London to be given the prestigious status. MAP2 introduced this form of sign language as a way to help children with speech and language difficulties and improve all youngsters’ communication abilities.
Staff at MAP2 have all received professional training to use the technique, so that all classes can be taught how to use it and benefit from greater communication skills. Learning signs for objects and instructions can aid their understanding of language and help children to learn words later on, as the signs and symbols give visual reinforcement of the words being spoken. For example children can learn to ask for a drink, whereas staff can use it to signal “break-time” or ask children to wash their hands.
“It’s been a huge success story here at MAP2,” Siobhan continues, “It’s been wonderful to see the confidence grow in those children who need it the most. If their speech has been slow to develop, Makaton has given them a voice to be able to communicate with other children and adults.”
“We’re delighted that even those who don’t have communication difficulties are embracing it. The children are consistently using signs for simple gestures like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. They even managed to sign the words to the carols at the Christmas concert! Overall, it’s a fantastic addition to anyone’s language skills.”
The Makaton Charity’s Baukje Gregory-Schroder described MAP2 as “an organisation that highly values all forms of communication; including signs and symbols. They understand how a multi model approach helps students in their education as well as encouraging positive relationships.”