Services for pupil Deaf / hearing impairments

Northern Counties School has a long history of providing deaf education services to meet the changing needs of the deaf population. We endeavour to embrace new practices and technologies in order to enhance learning opportunities of our pupils.

This provision has been specifically developed to meet the needs of those children who have a hearing loss and require a Total Communication approach and additional support for learning from Teachers of the Deaf, learning support workers and specialist therapists. Typically, provision will be suitable at our school for children who have British Sign Language (BSL) as their first language or have additional learning difficulties that mean they do not reach their academic potential in a mainstream setting. These children especially benefit from a signing environment in which speech and listening skills are promoted but where a visual language model is given a significant emphasis. Our children especially enjoy having friends who sign and provide a social communication group.

Rationale for the curriculum for Deaf / hearing impaired pupils

Deaf / hearing impaired pupils at Northern Counties School may reach a point in their learning journey where acquiring new knowledge or skills interferes with, or degrades, their prior learning and attainment. By teaching for understanding and the ability to generalise knowledge and skills, we deepen pupil’ learning and this leads to functional understanding. Approaching learning in this way ensures that pupils can apply what they know across many contexts.

The HI curriculum is designed to meet the learning needs of our pupils. It differs by Key Stage and iASEND stages of attainment, and the method of delivery varies according the age and ability of each pupil. The curriculum is based on the National Curriculum but also reflects and supports three key areas – Communication, Wellbeing and Functionality and Independence.

In key stages one and two, pupils access a curriculum based on a topic based, vocabulary led approach. The National Curriculum is the basis for the learning of new knowledge and skills but is modified specifically to needs the needs of each individual child. The significant difficulties our hearing impaired pupils experience with acquiring, understanding and communicating language spontaneously, mean that it is essential that the curriculum that we offer places a strong emphasis on the pupils being involved in meaningful, functional, everyday experiences resulting in the specific teaching of targeted vocabulary/signs and concepts, in a range of contexts in order to aid contextual learning and generalisation through a Total Communication approach. Pupils follow a two-year topic cycle that is closely linked to the detailed teacher/therapist assessments. At Key Stage three the curriculum becomes more subject specific and this leads to accreditation into key Stage four and Post 16.

Hearing impaired pupils at Northern Counties School present with a range of communication difficulties. In order to meet their very specific needs we have an integrated approach to teaching and therapy. Speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and teachers work together with skilled support staff, using a range of recognised strategies in order to address pupils’ highly specific and individual needs. The majority of teachers who work within the hearing impaired cohort are additionally qualified as Teachers of the Deaf. All staff are expected to hold a minimum of a Level 2 signing qualification.

Therapists may work with pupils individually, in pairs or small groups or lead whole class sessions supported by teaching staff. Therapy objectives and targets are seen as an integral part of curriculum delivery and are embedded within the daily programme for each pupil. This joint responsibility and collaborative way of working allows for each pupil to receive an individualised approach to their learning whichcan be immediately responsive to their changing needs.

Approaches include:

  • Structured work on understanding and using language including vocabulary development through a Total Communication approach that focuses on and values both English and British Sign Language
  • Use of other means of communication e.g. symbols, photographs as appropriate
  • Structured and visual programmes to build the skills of reading, grammar and spelling e.g. shape coding, colourful semantics
  • Social stories and social communication strategies to develop friendship and relationship skills
  • Sensory integration programmes
  • Fine motor/gross motor programmes to support curriculum access and develop independence
  • Programmes to develop phonological recognition and speech production
  • Work in the community to promote communication, independence and personal safety
  • Enabling pupils to achieve accreditation
  • An approach in which we develop language and communication skills with hearing impaired and deaf children, young people and their families.
  • A commitment to academic achievement, which enables young people to access the world of work or further education and to be fully functioning members of society.
  • BSL signing classes for young people, families and staff
  • Deaf role models with a number of deaf staff who are learning support workers and teachers.
  • Deaf awareness training for young people, families, staff and other stakeholders (such as social workers).
  • An open-door policy for our families to enable us to work in partnership and to share specific approaches and strategies to enable children achieve their full potential.
  • Work experience placements both within school and with other stakeholders
  • Education within a Total Communication approach – this means that appropriate combinations of speaking, listening, signing, including British Sign Language, Signed Supported English, reading, writing, finger spelling and alternative and augmentative communication aids will all be used to assist the development of language, speech and lip reading skills with the assistance of properly aided residual hearing where appropriate. English and British Sign Language are recognised as distinct languages. Both have equally important roles in the cognitive and linguistic development of our deaf children.
  • Teaching in small groups with high levels of individual support from specialist staff experienced in working with hearing impaired children
  • We have a team of highly experienced and well-qualified team of teachers of the deaf, learning support workers, and specialist therapists to ensure that each child’s individual needs are fully met at all times.
  • Access to a challenging curriculum, modified to meet the individual needs of the children. We make sure that our children and young people have full access to an inclusive curriculum that provides a skills led functional approach to learning for many young people and includes a wide range of accreditation including Entry Level Certificates, ASDAN and AQA unit awards as well as Ascentis Entry Level and Level 1 qualifications in English and mathematics. We also deliver the Duke of Edinburgh Award to our Post 16 students.