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Norman Gate School first in county to gain Makaton Friendly award

AN ANDOVER school has become the first in Hampshire to receive a Makaton Friendly award.

Norman Gate School, a special school for children with moderate learning needs, was recognised as it strives to make the school community accessible to people who use Makaton to aid their communication.

Makaton develops speech, language and communication skills. Using Signs – gestures, and symbols – pictures, people can tell someone what they want, make choices and join in.

Makaton enables meaningful communication, encourages an environment which can optimise communication skills and pre-empts communication breakdown.

Norman Gate use Makaton throughout the school whether working with children, parents or other adults, to support the education of its pupils.

Stephanie Rowson, one of Norman Gate’s speech and language therapy team and a Makaton tutor, said: “I feel proud to have supported Norman Gate School in achieving their Makaton Friendly status. Makaton is used every day by the staff and children which creates a welcoming and inclusive school environment. It is very well deserved and I hope the school can now share their knowledge and enthusiasm for Makaton with the wider community.”

And headteacher Kelly Wilkie added: “I am incredibly proud of the efforts of the staff team here at Norman Gate School and to be recognised in this way further supports our drive and commitment to our children, their families and our community.”

The Makaton Friendly Scheme aims to recognise organisations or businesses that currently use Makaton in a simple and informal way to make Makaton users feel welcome and enable them to access services within their community.

Makaton users include people with learning disabilities, autistic spectrum disorders, physical and sensory disabilities.

It is used extensively in many different settings both in the UK and in many countries across the world to allow children and adults with learning or communication difficulty to access the same services and facilities.

By encouraging the children in Norman Gate to learn and use Makaton it is hoped to give them tools they can use to communicate throughout their lives, no matter where they are or who they are communicating with.

Following the recognition, the school is offering its support to local companies and schools in their journeys to be recognised as Makaton Friendly and is encouraging others to join the scheme.

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