Pioneering Enfield school teaches sign language to all

By Clare Casey in Local People

WALK into Zebra class at Brimsdown primary and you won’t hear a pin drop.

The 30-strong class of 10 and 11 year-olds are learning sign language with their deaf teacher Lisa Smith.

Lisa doesn’t use her voice, but her expressive signing and engaging lesson – about flags and food from all over the world - has every pupil in the class transfixed.

“It’s fun and it’s nice to be quiet sometimes,” said Ilayda Elbudak, 10, who is hearing, like most of the Enfield 3-form entry school, but has been learning British Sign Language for three years.

Her peer, Hamza Kizilboga, said: “I like the way it helps us communicate with deaf people and it’s fun.”

The school in Green Street, Enfield is leading the way with deaf teaching.

They have had ’Hirbie’ (Hearing impairment resource base in Enfield) for ten years where young hearing impaired and deaf children were taught.

But for the last few years there has been a big move – literally – to get these kids into the classes of their hearing peers.

They have a huge number of teachers taking their BSL exams and also about 9 parents of deaf children learning sign language at the school.

Dani Lang, Associate Headteacher, said:

“Children are placed in the school because of the Hirbie centre and then they do a lot of work on phonics and signing with the younger end.

“But every child in the school learns British Sign Language for 25 or 30 minutes at some point during the week.

“It helps them communicate with their deaf friends and also they are very good at it and they enjoy it because it’s fun and physical.

“There is a centre at Highlands School, so when our pupils move on to secondary – where ever they end up - they will know sign language and that’s wonderful, for them and for other deaf children they meet.”

Mandy Lawrence is a communications support worker – a teaching assistant with BSL qualifications - who helps Javayria Baig, aged 10.

Javayria is doing maths, like all her hearing peers, but the teacher’s words are translated by Mandy, who is on hand to offer help and support.

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