We hope that this information will help to answer some of the questions you may have about our Centre for Deaf Children. It is intended as an outline of our approach to learning for deaf children including our philosophy of learning and our approach to mixing specialist teaching with learning in mainstream classes.
A Total Communication Approach
The Centre for Deaf Children uses a Total Communication approach to teaching and learning. Total communication uses signs alongside speech. We strongly believe that the use of sign and speech is the most successful and positive way to facilitate language development and provide the fullest access to the curriculum.
Through high quality language models children are given the opportunity to experience a Language rich environment; this helps to develop their confidence and skills helping them to express themselves in a range of situations.
Historically the view was that if you signed with your child then their speech development could be delayed, however current research shows that sign has a positive impact on language development and children who use sign from an earlier age often have better speech and language outcomes and show less frustration in their daily lives.
Our whole school has a strong commitment to the use of sign language. For deaf children the world can be a very small place where only a few people can sign. To promote the positive use of sign across the whole school EVERY child receives a lesson in British Sign Language each week. Throughout their time at James Wolfe children across the school build up a strong base in sign language this enables friendships to be forged between deaf and hearing children. As an example of our commitment to signing - at the end of Year 6 all our children are assessed against the BSL Standards for Level One.
Many of our staff across the whole school hold a sign language qualification and staff (and many of our parents) are equally keen to learn to foster our ongoing culture by learning to sign. We hold two free signing classes per week - one session for parents and one for staff.
Every year our Deaf support team run a variety of deaf awareness events including: NDCS spellathon, Sign2Sign and BSL recognition week.
The Centre has designated classrooms across both campuses that are sound treated and provide a quiet bespoke working environment. We understand that each child is an individual who may have different needs at different points of their educational journey. The Centre team is constantly observing and monitoring behaviour and attainment to ensure that the best possible learning package is available to each child.
We provide teaching within the Centre for core subjects such as maths, English and Science. Withdrawal is based on the needs of the child and is based on their needs - more withdrawal is needed for some pupils and others require less. Withdrawal is provided to ensure that full understanding of topics and concepts covered is facilitated in order to achieve high quality outcomes.
As children move forward in their learning journey the best place for them to be educated may be within their mainstream classroom. When this is the case, sign interpreters are provided in class to give access to the lessons. The teacher of the deaf will support and assess the child with the mainstream teacher and ongoing monitoring allows us to quickly identify if a child/children need more withdrawal support.
All students at some point may need additional support in their learning, we are able to use our skill base to provide reverse inclusion solutions, where mainstream children may learn alongside the deaf children in the Centre classrooms. This support may be needed long term or short term to ensure full understanding of a concept before returning to the mainstream classrooms for the remainder of the topic.
All the deaf children are allocated to a mainstream classroom, the teacher of the deaf and mainstream teacher meet and discuss the needs of the children and plan forward thinking about ways to support the child best; the teacher of the deaf may support with providing visual resources, or help with planning for individual needs. There will also be discussions about how best to support behavior and the Centre team and mainstream staff will share ideas about the promotion of positive behavior and reward schemes. It is important that language targets and expectations are shared with all team members so that each person can facilitate the ongoing development of language and communication. Teachers will meet to discuss assessment of the curriculum and share assessment data, analyse gaps in knowledge and develop ongoing intervention planning.
There are a number of school based assessment tools that are used alongside specialised assessments to monitor progress.
Mainstream assessment tools:
Specialised Assessment Tools:
Language assessments may be administered by teachers of the Deaf, Speech and Language Therapists and the Deaf Instructor.
Many of our children begin life at James Wolfe with limited language skills; this makes it difficult for children to talk about what they have done at school or what they participated in during the weekend or in the holidays. This is also difficult if your child uses home school transport, in order to make communication as smooth as possible we chose to use dictaphones to leave short audio messages for families instead of home school books. If families are deaf the use of email and video chat to allow for information to be shared in sign language are used to share information about your child's day.
The dictaphone is an excellent way for teachers and support staff to talk about the child's day so that families can talk about the events of the day with their child and we can support children as they tell us about the events of their holidays or weekends. Most days a message is recorded for families to listen to. The dictaphones are listened to everyday to see if a message has been left. For deaf families we use email and Video chat to ensure that messages get home regularly.
It is also a place to ask questions, get updates about how your child is doing and raise any concerns. In addition all letters are published on our website and weekly emails about the life of the school are sent out, this is the Weekly Wolfe.
We pride ourselves in a passion for the ongoing development of our children's friendship groups within the deaf community and we have strong links with other deaf provision and school across London. There are key events yearly - some that we run and others that we attend – that give our children the opportunity to come together and see old friends as well as make new ones.
· BSL recognition day at Frank Barnes
· Warren School Deaf day
Enriching the curriculum is a key part of our learning process, being able to experience and explore a concept is a core element of working with deaf children, we endeavor to begin new topics with an experience to facilitate real world opportunities for learning and understanding.
We often take part in research projects to help understand more about how deaf children learn. Before we start any projects that parents will be asked provided with an outline and asked for their consent.
Each year we conduct an annual review, we complete the first review after the first year a child has been with us. An invite is extended to all professionals working with the child - this may include speech and language therapists, a representative from the SEND team at the child's borough and any other professionals linked to the child's ongoing development. The aim of the review is to look over the last year and discuss the child and their needs thinking about additional provision that may be needed, if the placement still meets their needs and any concerns or changes that need to be made to the current provision. It is also a chance to review the child's long term targets are consider if they are still relevant and if the child's short term targets have been achieved. New targets will be set as needed.
Prior to the meeting
We have two formal parents evenings each year on in the Autumn term and one in the Spring term, there is an online booking system for this and it is important that parents take time to make an appointment. The meetings will be with the teacher of the deaf and the mainstream teacher to discuss the child's progress. Once the meeting with the mainstream teacher is finished, teachers of the deaf will be available for an extended meeting to discuss any issues or concerns that parents may have. Parents will also be able to look at their child's work books and see how they have progressed through the year. In the Summer term there is an informal meeting where parents can come and informally talk with the teacher of the deaf and mainstream teacher and look over the child's end of year work.
The Welcome Pack with information for parents about our Centre for Deaf Children can be found at the link below. The second link is our admission criteria and protocol so families are clear about the process of applying for a placement withing the Centre.
Any inquiries for the Centre should be addressed to the Lead for the Centre Miss Abbygail Field or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org