AN ANDOVER school has become the first in Hampshire to receive a Makaton Friendly award.
Norman Gate School, a particular school for children with moderate learning needs, was recognised. 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, symbols – pictures, people can tell someone what they want, make choices and join in.
Makaton enables meaningful communication, encourages an environment that can optimise communication skills and pre-empts communication breakdown.
Norman Gate uses 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 as 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 worldwide 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 to communicate throughout their lives, no matter where they are or who they are communicating with.
Following the recognition, the school is supporting local companies and schools in their journeys to be recognised as Makaton Friendly and is encouraging others to join the scheme.